By Zin Linn
The Saturday editorial of state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper is in the style of switching over to a new tune of change. However, its way of thinking cannot get away from the influence of its proprietor.
It looks good that the editorial points calls for perfect management of natural resources in general. But it did not mention the environmental damages made by the military and its cronies. It says that the devastating disasters worldwide stem from over-exploitation of the environment. On the other hand, it fails to spotlight the lessons from the Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Moreover, there is a faction in the government of Burma which aims to exploit the Myit-sone dam project on the Irrawaddy River although the people have said no.
Another point the editorial mentioned is concerning the Human Development Index of the nation. It says: “Education index is one of the determining factors in Human Development Index of a nation. Our country at the moment is in critical need of human capital that can lead the nation towards its goal as it is undergoing a series of drastic reforms.”
But here also, the editorial does not mention unemployment problems in Burma. Just only in Thailand, numerous media news say that there are far and wide between 2 to 3 million Burmese migrants workers employed largely in various factories, fisheries, farming, construction and even as domestic workers.
The editorial confesses that the government cannot help employees of Burma to grasp all the opportunities to be presented at present and in the near future. It happens mainly because of the workers’ limited professional knowledge, it says.
“We have ever been proud of our rich, valuable natural resources but never have enough knowledge to make use of it. In consequence, we could do nothing but to surrender the lion’s share of our natural resources to foreign companies,” revealing the mismanagement of the successive regimes of Burma.
According to the editorial, the President, in his speeches on a number of occasions, heartily invited Burmese professionals to come back home to join hands with the government in the office for national development. It also highlights the nation as one of the least developed in the Asia-Pacific Region. To be frank, President Then Sein’s occasional invitations are deemed as an unofficial greeting among the Burmese exile communities in several countries. They feel it is a discriminatory approach since the Burmese embassies throughout the globe are treated dishonestly.
It also says that the government alone cannot tackle all the daunting challenges on the revolutionary path toward a democratic nation. That is why it calls for collaborative efforts of the government and the people in unison. The opinion of the editorial on this part is too different from the ground situation. The biggest unemployment problem of the country comes because of the government’s policy errors, such as illegal land confiscations. Even though the President has been requesting the Burmese professionals in various fields of works to return home, few may be eager to follow his advice since the exiled Burmese nationals know the regime’s incapability.
In conclusion, the editorial says: “It is human nature to look for pastures new when situations are hard or hopes are fading. But, we could finally see the light at the end of tunnel now as the country is moving toward a new inspiring chapter. Various challenges and threats big or small await all of us. If you still cherish your motherland and your families and friends, why don’t you come back and join with us? Please, come back!”
However, Burmese people in exile are not much impressed with the President’s call for homecoming. Firstly, his invitation is too vague to be trusted and weak because it is not a presidential decree supported by the parliament. Secondly, the President has not enough power to stop the ongoing civil war against Kachin rebels. Thirdly, although the president promised to establish a practice of good governance, law and order have not been seen so far. The worst is that the corruption of the government officials is out of control and worse than ever.
In brief, it is sweet to listen to the speech – “Please, come back!” However, political, economic and social environments are not well organized enough to receive the exiled Burmese professionals. As a result, only a few went home to collaborate with the government and hundreds of thousand still reluctant to go home.
Yet, the editorial itself should be welcome seeing that it openly says the real weakness of the current situation in the country.