A Guide to Understanding Burma and Myanmar: by a Yale Scholar of Political Science
In China, gradual market reforms began in the late s, whilst in Vietnam , doi moi reforms, or renovation, were initiated in the mids. Liberalisation of food production in Vietnam, introduction of certain market rules and rural reforms based on de-collectivisation Lamb , unlike in China, were parallel to some liberalisation in state-owned enterprises. In China, urban reforms began in , five years after rural transformation.
Both in China and Vietnam, post-socialist transformation has taken the form of systemic economic reforms rather than political changes. They were rather rationalising activities in adjusting the system to changes in the socio-economic system see Shirk , Hayton In the case of Laos, a similar model was used, although socialist experiments with the economy lasted shorter. In —, the government tried to collectivise villages.
Nevertheless, the communist party withdrew from the project, rightly recognising that collectivisation might have a very negative impact on the efficiency of the domestic agricultural economy Evans The gradual economic transformation began in the mids. Proponents of the reforms argued that the 10 years of socialist experiments did not allow for the introduction of actual socialism.
Stuart-Fox argued that Laos initially reformed the socialist economy more quickly than Vietnam, although it was undoubtedly not a shock therapy, as evidenced by its interim results. Mongolia, amongst the post-socialist countries of the Asian continent, is often perceived as an exception and an example of the European way of post-socialist transformation. Indeed, in —, a full democratisation took place there and a rapid creation of a liberal market economy began, even though Mongolia did not have a democratic or a capitalist tradition, and the communist regime lasted there the longest after the USSR.
In the context of systemic transformation, Myanmar, both in the period — and in the acceleration of —, used elements of the concept of the PSDS. The political transformation was significantly slower than the economic transformation. During the acceleration of reforms —, the authorities maintained the authoritarian system despite gradual political liberalisation.
The parliament, which was responsible for adopting laws accelerating economic liberalisation and market institutionalisation, had been chosen in November in undemocratic elections. Despite the fact that the parliamentary elections held in November were considered free and democratic — although votes in parts of the regions subject to armed conflicts, for example, in the state of Kachin, did not take place — it should be emphasised that Myanmar remains an undemocratic country. The current arrangement means that the part of the parliament chosen undemocratically i. Despite the general perception that in — Myanmar was close to adopting the transformation model similar to that in Central European countries and characterised by a shock therapy and extensive political liberalisation, and the frequent views that there was a slowdown in economic liberalisation in —, the analysis of laws and regulations implemented in the above period clearly indicates that the dynamics of economic transformation in the whole period of acceleration was more or less evenly distributed, as indicated by the frequency of legal regulations crucial for macroeconomic liberalisation and market institutionalisation.
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In the case of Myanmar, the transformation process began in and is still in the initial rather than advanced phase. The financial sector, including the banking sector, whose institutionalisation for political reasons has been delayed, is an illustrative example. Banks can only offer a limited range of services. Access to the domestic market by foreign entities is heavily regulated.
Until , only 14 foreign banks received a license to operate in Myanmar. License restrictions apply to services and customer groups banks can service. Foerch et al. In addition, procedures to introduce key legal regulations for the functioning of a market economy take years. As of mid, the state was unable to pass an important law such as the one concerning operation of enterprises the company law and did not manage to amend the crucial investment law.
As in the case of historical examples of developmental states, planning remains an important element of economic policy. This is evidenced, amongst others, by the proliferation of various social and economic development plans and by the fact that the administrative system still features a central planning agency laying out development directions. The fact that Myanmar is a post-socialist country means that the central agency also facilitates the process of system transformation.
In the neighbouring post-socialist Laos, this role is played by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, although in both cases, that of China and that of Laos, one cannot omit the decision-making bodies located in the structures of the respective communist parties and duplicating the functions of the government.
Nevertheless, during the reign of President Thein Sein — , the role of MNPED was not dominant; the economic reform coordination centre was in the office of the president and rested in the hands of one of his trusted office ministers. In the cases of China and Myanmar, it also meant the rapprochement with the historical Korean model, in which the state leader stood at the helm of the Economic Planning Board.
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The subsequent merger of the MNPED and the Ministry of Finance in April returning to the institutional arrangements of — again creates opportunities for building a strong planning agency responsible for reforms and development. The government, therefore, plans to maintain its role as the main planner. During the acceleration of economic reforms — , the authorities quickly liberalised import regulations. Myanmar, after years of isolation and systemic experiments, had a limited production base, so growing consumer needs had to be met by imports. Similar liberalisation of international trade also took place in the early stages of transformation in Vietnam and Laos.
During the globalisation period, characterised, amongst others, by the acceleration of knowledge diffusion, transformation can be faster. Developing countries entering the global economy, in particular in such a dynamic region as East Asia, can take the advantage of the so-called quick wins. First of all, they can benefit from the knowledge, competences and technologies of others and adapt them to their own internal conditions and needs. They can study historical successes and development failures.
This also applies to systemic transformation from the socialist to the capitalist model. Industrialisation based on the development of an export production base is a key element of the historical concept of the developmental state. With limited resources of qualified workforce and poorly developed infrastructure, the government supports a wide range of sectors with low technological needs e.
Three of them — Thilawa, Dawei and Kyaukphyu — and 18 industrial parks were established. The government plans to create two additional zones — in Pathein and Myawaddy — and another 10 parks. A similar policy is currently being pursued by Laos, which has opened special economic zones to support economic interaction with China and Thailand and to attract foreign investors.
In —, ten such special zones and industrial parks were created Noonan In comparison, in China, already at the beginning of transformation in , a decision was made to create special economic zones SEZ. A year later, four SEZ were opened, whereas the fifth one was opened in The next stage of expanding the export production base was the opening of 14 port cities for foreign investors and the creation of open economic areas , a part of the open coastal belt — the Yangtze delta Changjiang , the Pearl delta river Zhujiang , the triangle of southern Fujian, the Liaodong Peninsula, Shandong Peninsula, the Hebei and Guangxi provinces.
Fifty-four economic and technological development zones as well as 60 export zones were established.
In , the Shanghai Free Trade Zone was created, and in , similar structures were established in Tianjin and the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. As a result of economic liberalisation and market reforms, the volume of foreign direct investments in Myanmar increased. About In , concessions were auctioned for 30 oil sea blocks, and then for another 20, which resulted in a significant inflow of financial resources. Manufacturing was in the third place 9. It is worth comparing these data with investments of domestic investors who invested in manufacturing In the fiscal year —, projects worth USD 9.
This, however, does not prevent the authorities from implementing elements of the East Asian development model as far as market access by foreign entities is concerned.
This does not apply only to measures from the first phase of economic reforms — , when 12 industry sectors were reserved for state-owned enterprises Rieffel , but also to the state policy during the reform acceleration period — MIC is known for its lengthy procedures and arbitrary decisions, 23 as well as issuing directives that limit the ability of foreign companies to operate on the Myanmar market.
Restrictions concern international trade. A decade later he moved to Budapest to serve from until as the first Rector and President of the Central European University. When Stepan left Oxford, it was for the Wallace S. He began as a Latin Americanist, with a particular focus on Brazil and Peru, and he retained his strong interest in the area.
The range of his intellectual curiosity and restless comparison became, however, quite exceptionally wide. The outgoing editor of that journal, Jeffrey C. Al Stepan wrote on many countries, but never in a desk-bound way. He was a frequent visitor to the countries whose politics he studied. When there, he would ask probing questions of politicians and scholars who, before long, were asking Al for guidance, having become eager to draw on his own knowledge of how particular institutional arrangements had worked elsewhere.
Al Stepan was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in and at the earliest possible moment after he became eligible as a result of his move to Oxford a Fellow of the British Academy in This is given out only once every three years for exceptionally distinguished work in Comparative Politics.
Stepan was following in the footsteps of scholars of similar eminence who received the Deutsch award - Juan Linz in , Charles Tilly in and Giovanni Sartori For his many friends, not least in this College, his death is a great loss. A longer obituary by Professor Brown can also be found on the British Academy website here , where it is available for download.
Professor of Law and Gerald J. Al Stepan was a force of nature. To be in his company, even for a short time, was an exhilarating experience.
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When his attention focused on you, the feeling was of being at the center of things with a trusted guide. I was one of the many, many graduate students around the world who experienced his whirlwind of thoughts, arguments, and telling anecdotes. My first exposure was in or , when he came to St. He practically bounced down the steps of the hall with a jaunt and a smile powered by an almost irrepressible eagerness to share his findings.
He shared stories from fieldwork and argued about theory and practice with the same energy and enthusiasm. Agree or not, no one was thinking about the sherry. The Stepan whirlwind was not just experienced in large groups. Hall Cornell University Press , Ithaca , , pp. One study accused of reifying the state is Taylor , R. See also R. Vani, eds. The collapse of the feared Military Intelligence Service in , due to a power struggle within the armed forces, probably contributed to a slightly freer atmosphere in Burma for a period, but since then the regime has introduced a number of additional control measures.
Also relevant is Taylor , R. There are also some smaller groups, like the Shan Herald Agency for News.
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Also relevant to this theme is Leon T. Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection. This data will be updated every 24 hours. Login Alert. Log in. Aa Aa. Cited by 10 Cited by. Crossref Citations. This article has been cited by the following publications.
This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef. Saha, Jonathan History Compass, Vol. Cheesman, Nick Crichlow, Michaeline A. The Burmese traffic-jam explored: Changing dynamics and ambiguous reforms.