S1E105: Myanmar’s parlous economy rooted in ruinous policies

  • 26 Jan 2024

Find out why Myanmar is in a state of economic collapse with only one per cent growth in fiscal year 2023/24.

Synopsis: Every fourth Friday of the month, The Straits Times' global contributor Nirmal Ghosh shines a light on Asian perspectives of global and Asian issues with expert guests.

Military-driven policies and conflict have shrunk Myanmar’s formal economy, but its illicit economy - long a feature of its borderlands in particular - has been thriving. 

Myanmar's military regime is not entirely to be blamed for this tradition of transnational crime syndicates as many of the areas concerned have been controlled for decades by ethnic armies, which essentially make a living from the informal or illicit economy.  

To unravel the complexities of Myanmar’s crisis, Nirmal Ghosh hosts two guests in this episode.

First is Professor Sean Turnell, former economic advisor to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the former State Councillor, now in jail, who held office from 2016 until the military coup of February 2021.

Second is Dr Michael Vatikiotis, a veteran journalist, author and broadcaster who has been based in Asia for 35 years.

Highlights (click/tap above):

1:33 Why is Myanmar's economy performing poorly?

3:38 Recently, there has been an unprecedented coalescing of ethnic armed organisations into effective alliances, different from historic fragmented resistance to the military in the past

7:00 Recent crackdowns by China’s proxies indicate the level of concern about Myanmar's transnational crime syndicates, as these prey especially on the Chinese

8:47 Can the military regime be completely blamed for this too? Many of the areas controlled by ethnic armies have essentially made a living from the informal or illicit economy

14:40 Tremendously deep, long lasting levels of mistrust between constituent elements; is the younger generation leading the revolution impressive?

Produced by: Nirmal Ghosh (nirmal@sph.com.sg) and Fa’izah Sani

Edited by: Fa’izah Sani

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