Unravelling Myanmar's Transition: Progress, Retrenchment, and Ambiguity Amidst Liberalization.

AuthorKim, Felix Tan Thiam

Unravelling Myanmar's Transition: Progress, Retrenchment, and Ambiguity Amidst Liberalization. Edited by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Elliott Prasse-Freeman and Patrick Strefford. Singapore: NUS Press, 2020. Softcover: 307pp.

Unraveling Myanmar's Transition, edited by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Elliott Prasse-Freeman and Patrick Strefford, has the value of offering nuanced critical insights into Myanmar's democratic transition while charting potentially fruitful research directions for the future. The first three sections of the book--consisting of three chapters each--respectively cover Myanmar's political landscape, the challenges facing its political economy, and the country's social-cultural issues. The fourth and final section comprises two chapters addressing the Rohingya crisis.

In the first chapter of Section 1, Aung Tun examines the various opportunities and challenges that the National League for Democracy (NLD) administration faces in the coming years. Holding a parliamentary supermajority can be both a plus and minus for the NLD, especially in ensuring that democratic reforms continue unabated. In Chapter Two, Yoshihiro Nakanishi examines the often tenuous relationship between the NLD and the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) by focusing on the transition from the previous military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government (helmed by former General Thein Sein) to the NLD government. Nakanishi astutely observes that for Myanmar to move forward in its democratization process, the two political enemies will have to work hand in hand despite their long-standing mutual animosity. In Chapter Three, Moe Thuzar and Pavin Chachavalpongpun discuss the challenges facing Myanmar's foreign policy since 2015. This chapter provides an interesting overview of Myanmar's continued neutrality in the great power rivalry between the United States and China. On the one hand, Myanmar cannot discount America's economic influence on the country's development even if it is uncomfortable with America's emphasis on its human rights record and pace of democratization. On the other hand, Myanmar's relationship with China is fraught with geopolitical and geostrategic considerations, especially in its pursuit of peace with domestic ethnic armed groups, some of which benefit from China's tacit support.

In Section 2, Fumiharu Mieno argues in his chapter that much remains to be done to restructure Myanmar's corporate and financial system. To galvanize...

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