Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Eclectic crime fiction and informed, irreverent non-fiction from Asia and beyond

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Burma’s election fever grips Yangon and its foreign observers


I feel incredibly humbled to have witnessed the first semi fair and almost free election in Burma in decades.

I was at the NLD’s headquarters tonight where an exuberant and chaotic party atmosphere prevailed throughout.

But as one Burmese told me, ‘the military are like chess players and they are planning their next move.’

That coupled with ASSK’s and the NLD’s unforgivable  stance towards the country’s Muslims, the continuing war along Burma’s borders, the common use of child and slave labor, the majority’s nationalist chauvinism, the early scars of globalization, the kleptocratic tendencies of the military and business elite, and the slow burning genocide of the Rohingya certainly makes me wonder about the western media’s persistent blanket gushing (with some rare exceptions) over what is but a step on a long hard and uncertain road for this beautiful and tragic country.

Many Burmese will rightfully remember today as a wonderful moment. And no doubt, the incumbent government will be a vast improvement on the horrors of the past.

Many foreign observers, establishment journalists, pandering historians and celebrated experts might want to take a long hard look at their simple-minded Disneyland narrative that is pretty divorced from realities on the ground but that plays so well with readers back home who are gagging for happy endings in a scary and confusing world.

But of course I am exaggerating.




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