Building Country Ownership in Burma
covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Opinion
CONTRIBUTOR

Building Country Ownership in Burma


By MYAT HTOO RAZAK Friday, February 17, 2012


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However, all capacity-building and implementation programs should include plans to transfer leadership from international staff to diverse local and national experts within three years, to encourage local leadership for sustainability and country ownership.

Third, help the emerging leadership of Burma to effectively navigate their relationship with the current government as well as international partners to create the best possible foundation for the nation-building process. Continue engagement by sending confidence-building teams led by senior lawmakers and government officials to Burma. Daw Suu and President U Thein Sein need to keep working together effectively to avoid giving hardliners in the military leadership an excuse to stage a coup or slow the progress. Engagement of senior US officials and the international community should aim to bring much-needed jobs and social and health services for people in different regions and states and along the borders. International donors should develop a strategic action plan to assist Burma in her nation-building process, in collaboration with other international and Asian regional partners, to reduce overlaps and increase complementary impacts. The US government should take a comprehensive approach to improve collaboration and consultation with business, development and social organizations to encourage ethical and human rights principles (e.g., the need for responsible operation of gas pipeline projects in ethnic and environmentally sensitive areas).

The people of Burma are hardworking, smart, proud and freedom-loving. Despite the atrocities committed on them by successive military regimes, they have maintained their dignity, sense of humor and love for their country. They have expressed that they need jobs, education, health, protection from abuse and exploitation (domestic or foreign) and opportunities to actively participate in guiding the country’s future.

Having served on the staff of national and international health organizations, I have witnessed in numerous settings that national leaders and experts rightly feel that they should be in a position to make major decisions on donor-funded programs. International agencies require that their plans be implemented with transparency and accountability. Although all parties want to help the country effectively, tensions often exist, especially when programs are high profile and/or large amounts of money are involved.

The international community can bring good will and a wealth of expertise. Many international agencies and organizations are trying to go in and help Burma with funds from Western governments and foundations in anticipation of the lifting of sanctions. For Burma to fully own its development process and avoid future generations dependent on foreign aid, its leaders and citizens will need to strike a delicate balance with international partners and those offering assistance. Decision-makers will need to listen to the people of Burma, with the active involvement of a diverse civil society, in planning and implementing business, social and development programs.

Burma is one of the few counties that have bipartisan support from the executive and legislative branches of the US government, starting with President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton and including Senators McConnell, Kerry and McCain. Burma will also need support and collaboration from business, technical and social leaders in the United States as crucial partners in its outreach to the global community. For international support to continue, in return the government in Naypyidaw must demonstrate commitment to the current positive progress.

Daw Suu has mentioned that Burma needs help from everyone in the nation-building process for it to be successful. Burma is more likely to succeed if the global community, including the United States, provides much-needed support through a strategic and collaborative approach. Otherwise, the people of Burma and the global community will likely see future decades similar to those of the past, with the hopes and dreams of the people continuing to be crushed by the dictatorship. Let’s do everything we can to assist the people of Burma as they strive to create a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country ready to make its own contributions to the global community.

Dr Myat Htoo Razak is a Burmese physician who has worked with international health organizations on HIV/AIDS research, intervention and capacity building of health workers in Asia and Africa. He now lives in the United States and works on strengthening global health and health systems.



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COMMENTS (4)
 
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Khin Wrote:
22/02/2012
Dr Razak should first make sure that it is indeed a democratic process underway, otherwise he is wasting time. Watch first!

kerry Wrote:
21/02/2012
A beautiful, intelligent voice. Well said and well written. May you be well heard.

Your love of the country and the people shines.

KML Wrote:
20/02/2012
Very good, comprehensive and well researched piece of advice for the people of Burma, irrespective of law makers, oppositions and ordinary citizens. All stakeholders are optimistically struggling to reach some form of democracy in Burma, particularly in the last 12 months.
There are three priority areas for nation building explained by the writer:
1. shared vision for the direction of the country
2. invest in community and institution building in Burma
3. the emerging leadership of Burma to effectively navigate their relationship
However, we are still in the dark about the “future direction of the country” even if we have a government with a reasonable saturation of democracy. There are some models such as:
1. From three primary industries (rubber, palm oil and tin) to newly emerging industrial nation likes Malaysia.
2. “Democracy” with constant conflicts likes Israel.
3. “Democracy” with military state like Iran / N Korea
4. Mixture of ALL ?

Oo Maung Gyi Wrote:
19/02/2012
Dr. Myat Htoo Razak is belong to a natioanlist blood of Sayagyi Razak, the martyr assassinated along with General Aung San on July 19, 1947. This article is showing how much he loves on the country. As a professional youg blood should come back to his motherland Burma to contribute his talent and knowledge for the sake of nation building. Welcome and congratulate for your valuable advices which you written in your article for future Burma in the process of building the democratic state.

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