For the still military-dominated regime in Myanmar, national reconciliation seems to translate as a return to national harmony.
In a new review at the JCA website, Susanne Prager-Nyein looks at the recent edited book by Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Prisms on the Golden Pagoda. Perspectives on National Reconciliation in Myanmar (DOI:10.1080/00472336.2015.1015236). Her review is of the 2014 version published by NUS Press.
Kyaw Yin Hlaing compiled the book from workshop papers in 2009, before he became an adviser to current
president Thein Sein. In this sense, Prager-Nyein wonders why the book took so long to appear – originally in 2012 – as some of the chapters “are dated, not on topic, or have been already published elsewhere…”. In some respects, Myanmar is quite a different place now.
The reviewer notes that the updating is in “an epilogue that paints a flattering picture of the Thein Sein government up until early 2012, how it was shedding its international pariah status and inviting all former adversaries, including Aung San Suu Kyi, exiled activists and ethnic civil war groups, to join the reform process.”
The crucial question remains unanswered: how can “national reconciliation” be talked about and achieved without even addressing the entrenched power of the military? The current civilianised government is operating within the same paradox as it tries to make the political and economic order created by the military more palatable to both ethnic groups and the democratic opposition.