What’s next for Myanmar?

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Senior General Min Aung Hliang, Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has now assumed full control of his country after seizing powers; and detaining top officials of the ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD) including its leader and State Counsellor Ang San Suu Kyi on Monday morning.

The new Myanmar military junta is emerging to face a world which is very different to the one which they relinquished to the civilian-led government under Aung San Suu Kyi more than four years ago. And there are already hints of what they may do in the coming weeks and months in a world facing shrinking democratic space despite widespread condemnations of the coup.

Not least all nations around the world are still preoccupied with the Covid-19; and the United States – the principal driver of democracy – is itself in a fully- blown pandemic crisis under a new White House team. Moreover, not everyone may have gotten tired of Myanmar, but many had given up on Ang San Suu Kyi after her Rohingya charade and indifferences.

But it is much closer to home which Senior General Min Aung Hliang will be prodding, precisely to his left – Thailand. It’s the Thai hybrid military rule which appears to resonate the Myanmar junta’s raison de’etre both in form and essence, according to people close to the Tatmadaw (Myanmar word for military).

The first hint can be found on a press release issued by the so-called Tatmadaw Information Team on the night of Jan 1, 2021 as well as a war of words prior condemning the Union Election Commission and NLD-led government for an alleged fraud on national election results last November. The specific figure mentioned was 10.5 million cases of potential frauds – among others counting of ‘ghost voters’.

But it was the NLD’s confrontational defense of this election results which Myanmar political pundits said was the last straw in what could have been an unavoidable coup. Then President Win Myint (now under arrest) refused to organize a National Security Council meeting and Union Parliament meeting at the suggestion of the military to look into alleged irregularities in the Nov 2020 voters list.

NLD politicians’ stance was seen by the men in green uniforms as an attempt to eliminate the military from politics.

The new Myanmar military junta rests its legitimacy on its repeats to defend the 2008 Constitution at all costs. The Tatmadaw’s Information Team’s press release referred to the acceptance by former military-appointed President Thein Sein of the national election results back in 2015 which gave NLD a landslide victory to form a civil government.

The Myanmar 2008 Constitution appears to have come full cycle – having first unleashed an example to the Thai military junta which drafted an alike Constitution now in use to limit the power of the civilian government and along with the military-backed party allowed it to take control of the country.

Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, himself former army commander-in-chief, has demonstrated over his four-year plus tenure that the ‘hybrid’ Constitution can keep politicians at bay and keep stability and international standing at a reasonable pace. Myanmar sources suggested the Thai political formula tops the list of goals to be achieved under Senior General Min Aung Hliang era within a year.

As if it’s self-congratulation on both sides – Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, former army general and Prayuth’s political quartermaster, responding to questions on the Myanmar military coup by reporters yesterday: “It’s their internal affairs”! – Asian News Network.

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