Western powers need to support Myanmar and the path of democracy under Aung San Suu Kyi

Western powers need to support Myanmar and the path of democracy under Aung San Suu Kyi

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The State Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, is determined to maintain the path of democracy in this country and to solve countless protracted ethnic issues that blight the nation. At the same time, Aung San Suu Kyi wants to modernize Myanmar and lay the foundation for genuine economic growth. Hence, business initiatives, inviting foreign capital, developing the infrastructure, focusing on education, the infrastructure, and other important areas are all part of her objectives. Therefore, rather than lambasting Myanmar over a single issue, it is imperative that major Western nations open-up to this nation rather than allowing China to make the running.

Sadly, the international media is focused on a singular narrative in relation to the Bengali Muslim question. After all, Western and Islamic media sources don’t even acknowledge the Bengali Muslim question that blights the region. This notably applies to Assam in India, the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, Rakhine in Myanmar, and other areas where the indigenous feel threatened by mass Bengali Muslim migration. Indeed, in Rakhine, Bengali Muslims also slaughtered Bengali Hindus and this sums up the Islamist mindset that exists.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was stated, “…for Myanmar, powerful international media outlets in the West and Sunni Islamic world are overtly manipulating one issue to suit a simplistic agenda aimed at playing the ‘Muslim victim card.’ This applies to the “Muslim question” in Rakhine State and the citizenship rights of Bengali Muslims who are not indigenous to this nation. Yet, little is reported about the treatment of Buddhists in parts of Rakhine, nor the cleansing and Muslim internal migration policy of Bangladesh in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. After all, for decades you have had vast crimes against the indigenous Buddhists and other tribal minorities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Rakhine. Similarly, in Southern Thailand, many Buddhists have fled after Islamists beheaded Buddhist priests and intimidated Buddhist villagers. Not surprisingly, a biased Western and Sunni Islamic press campaign disillusioned some Buddhist priests in Myanmar – and the same applies to regional events that are underreported when Buddhists (and others) are the main victims.”

Myanmar is now on the path to democracy and this should be welcomed by all Western democratic nations. After all, the power of one-party-states actually dictates the geopolitics of Myanmar to a large degree. For example, the one-party-state of political control is firmly entrenched in Cambodia, China, Laos, and Vietnam. Similarly, the military intervention in Thailand and political intrigues in Bangladesh are threatening democratic forces in both nations. Therefore, events outside of military issues in Rakhine and other parts of the nation that are protracted despite the government reaching out to various ethnic militia groups, should not hide all the positive steps being taken in Myanmar under Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ironically, the negative narrative being used against Myanmar seems to be creating greater awareness to enhance relations with regional nations; two Permanent Members of the United Nations (China and the Russian Federation); and nations further afield in Northeast Asia including Japan and South Korea. The outcome being that Myanmar is improving relations with China, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and others. At the same time, business investments from other nations including Singapore and Taiwan highlight the fact that this nation can’t be isolated based on foreign intrigues.

In the realm of geopolitics the nations of the European Union – and individual democratic nations including America and Australia – should not force Myanmar to over-rely on China. Instead, these democratic nations should seek to foster stronger ties with Myanmar based on the democratic and geopolitical angle. If so, then Myanmar can develop its economy to a greater degree and this, in turn, will help to solve many protracted ethnic issues that blight the county. At the same time, the strengthening of democracy and a stable Myanmar equates to being a bridge between powerful Asian powers (China, India, and Japan) and a natural economic bridge that encompasses the entire Mekong Delta.

Overall, Myanmar needs supporting because of the strategic significance of this nation and based on being a nation that is moving in the right way when it comes to democracy. Indeed, if leading Western democratic nations are genuinely concerned about the crisis in Rakhine – an issue that is extremely complex – then fostering stronger ties will help to get across these differences. Also, if Western nations reach out to Myanmar, then not only can issues like Rakhine and other ethnic issues become reduced but economic investments will spur modernization and create jobs.

This will strengthen democracy and prevent any one nation from seeking to dictate to Myanmar based on a weakened position. Hence, leading Western nations need to take a fresh approach – in line with regional nations and other countries like Japan that support Myanmar – because it is in the interest of all vested parties. If this fresh approach is taken, then the highly respected Aung San Suu Kyi can entrench democracy and development in Myanmar – rather than having her hands tied by negative internal and external forces.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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