Myanmar is a country close to my heart. It’s not because I have relatives there or that I’ve lived there before. In fact, it’s because I have failed in my attempts over the years to enter the country as a journalist.
The most recent failure was in early 2012. But this year, I finally made it into the country successfully. And I’m convinced that it is due to how the country’s military junta government has slowly started to open up to the world, allowing foreign journalists in and freeing up the media (relatively).
In fact, it isn’t just the foreign media that has been entering the country, an increase in foreign investments such as GLCs and SMEs have been on the rise due to the lifting of trade sanctions, with countries like South Korea, Japan and Malaysia leading the pack.
And with my trip into the country, it is clear that this has directly affected the economics of Myanmar in a positive way. The number of jobs is increasing and Yangon, although with buildings and people who look like they are from a time two decades ago, is bustling with activity.
Progress is progress and we have to acknowledge it no matter how slow or late it comes. But problems are problems and it will still exist, especially for a country that is now forced to have to adapt to a new world order fast if they want to survive.
The local workforce is still obscenely underpaid with normal blue collar workers earning an average of between 10,000 and 25,000 Kyat a month (RM36.40 to RM91.00), while local journalists are still very sceptical about the government’s approach to the media.
Aung San Su Kyi, who has been the symbol of human rights and democracy in Myanmar, has been freed from house arrest and is even now a member of parliament. But, in recent months, has kept quiet on issues that she would have made a fuss about back then.
During my trip, I meet lots of everyday Burmese (or Myanma) from journalists to factory workers, and even taxi drivers and cobblers, and they tell me about life in the country from their perspective.
So tune in to the last episode this season of In Focus this Tuesday, 24th September 2013, at 8:30pm on Astro AWANI.