Libmonster ID: UK-1435
Author(s) of the publication: N. A. LISTOPADOV

The well-known Burmese economist A. L. Simonia published a very relevant study on the development of Myanmar over the past quarter of a century- " Myanmar: Transition to a Market economy (1988-2011) "(Moscow, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2012, 224 p). The book analyzes not only economic processes, but also gives a broad picture of changes in the politics, ideology, social life, and foreign policy of one of the most important countries in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar occupies a key geopolitical position between China and India at the junction of the regions of South and Southeast Asia. Through Myanmar, China has the shortest access to the Indian Ocean, and India has access to the markets of the ASEAN member states. In addition, the country has recently become one of the largest suppliers of energy resources in the region, primarily natural gas, which is increasingly needed by its rapidly developing neighbors. It is not for nothing that a real battle is now unfolding between China, India, the United States and other states for influence on Myanmar.

The value of the peer-reviewed work is unquestionable, if we take into account the fact that it is devoted to a turning point in Myanmar's history in many ways. Naturally, the study begins in 1988, when the spontaneous mass movement for democratic transformation that broke out in Myanmar was suppressed by the army, and the government of the Burmese Socialist Program Party was replaced by a military regime.

The author examines in some detail the background and causes of the acute domestic political crisis of 1988 and the subsequent military coup. Among them, the country's long-term self-isolation, autarky, inefficiency of military and bureaucratic methods of managing the economy, lack of democratic freedoms and human rights violations are quite rightly mentioned. As a result, Myanmar is included in the list of least developed countries in the world.

Several chapters of the work are devoted to the analysis of radical market reforms undertaken by the new military government, the transition from the" socialist " economy of the previous period to the capitalist one. It is clear that these definitions are rather arbitrary, especially in relation to the Myanmar reality. The emphasis is placed on identifying the specifics of the development of a market economy in Myanmar, due to the huge role of the armed forces in it. Large national businesses work closely with generals, both active and retired. It is interesting to compare the large-scale sale of state property in Myanmar with the privatization at bargain prices carried out in Russia in the post-Soviet 90s (p. 118).

The author gives a positive assessment to the "open door" policy proclaimed by the military administration. Despite the sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western countries because of the generals ' violations of democracy and human rights, openness has significantly increased the volume of foreign trade and accelerated economic development and growth.

An interesting chapter of the paper examines the processes of transformation of the military regime into a civilian form of government, the important stages of which were the referendum on the new constitution (May 2008), the holding of a referendum on the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

page 75

general parliamentary elections (November 2010), the transfer of power to a civilian government (March 2011). An important stage of transformation can be considered the election of the leader of the opposition movement, Nobel Peace Prize winner, famous Do Aung San Suu Kyi in the April 2012 parliamentary by-election.

These changes have led to a sharp warming in relations between Myanmar and Western countries. A vivid example is the trip to the country of US President B. Putin. President Barack Obama's visit to Myanmar in November 2012 was the first in the history of Myanmar-US relations between the head of the US administration to visit Myanmar. Washington considers the beginning of Myanmar's transition to democracy to be one of its most important foreign policy achievements. Long-standing sanctions imposed on the military regime are being lifted, which opens up opportunities for large investments in the Myanmar economy.

Summing up the results of Myanmar's development over the past two decades, A. A. Simonia notes both achievements and alarming trends. The first ones include liberalizing the economy, opening up to the outside world, making peace with almost all the rebel organizations of national minorities, and, of course, moving from a military to a civilian form of government, allowing the opposition to enter parliament and granting some freedom to the media (pp. 205-206).

However, the author is sure that one should not turn a blind eye to the merging of the army and business circles, which leads to the formation of a military-bureaucratic, military-oligarchic way of economy, characterized by inefficiency and corruption. It is difficult to disagree with the researcher that Myanmar is in danger of eating up revenues from the export of gas and other natural resources (p.192).

The monograph is not without its drawbacks. You can, for example, note the author's excessive categoricality in assessing certain phenomena. Thus, it is doubtful that "political instability in Burma/Myanmar has always been attributed to economic reasons" (p. 159). Without denying the importance of economic factors, one cannot discount the importance of the national issue, which is painful for the country, as well as ideological and other contradictions*. The influence of superstition on political decision-making in Myanmar appears to be somewhat exaggerated. The author writes: "Fortune tellers are known to play a key role in Burmese life, and all important decisions, including state ones, are made on the advice of astrologers" (p.198). Most likely, predictors in many cases simply provide the appropriate base for already planned solutions. There are also factual inaccuracies in the work.

However, all these shortcomings do not detract from the value of the study, which will undoubtedly be in demand both in academic circles and among practitioners associated with Myanmar.

N. A. LISTOPADOV, Doctor of Historical Sciences


From the editorial board. The problems of interethnic discord in Myanmar A. A. Simoniya revealed in the article: Myanmar-2012: Ethno-confessional conflict in the south-west of the country / / Asia and Africa Today. 2013, N 2.


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