Asian Insider

Myanmar's influencers: How key stakeholders inside and outside the country could shape its future


Protests and violent crackdowns have claimed dozens of lives and brought Myanmar to a standstill one month after a military coup.

The Straits Times examines how key stakeholders inside and outside the country could influence its future.

Asean compelled to act by Myanmar's increasingly violent crackdowns but forced to wait

A protester holds a sign with an image of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, on March 5, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan called Asean's informal foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday "an opportunity for nine of us to listen to the representative of the military authorities from Myanmar".

That nuanced position that withheld recognition for the regime was lost on the masses within Myanmar, who fumed at the perception that a representative of the military which seized power from the civilian government on Feb 1 was accorded an equal position with regional foreign ministers on a videoconference screen.

Ms Mya Nandar Thin, executive director of the New Myanmar Foundation, a group that promotes voter education, told The Straits Times: "No matter what they say, having Asean meet a representative of the military coup is insulting to our people."


Some ethnic groups rule out talks with Myanmar military as powerful ones stay silent

Members of various ethnic groups take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, on Feb 24, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Almost three weeks ago, residents of Kawkareik town near Myanmar's border with Thailand marched on the streets to protest against the Feb 1 military coup.

Unlike elsewhere in the country, they did not encounter resistance from the military and police.

This was because they were accompanied by fighters from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), one of more than 20 armed groups active in Myanmar's borderlands.


China caught between a rock and a hard place as anti-China sentiment runs high in Myanmar

Myanmar police place barricades in front of the Chinese Embassy in Yangon as protesters march past, on Feb 12, 2021. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Anti-China sentiment is running high in Myanmar, what with many people in the country believing that Beijing supported the military in its Feb 1 coup.

Protesters have demonstrated in front of the Chinese embassy in Yangon, shouting "Shame on you, China" and carrying placards accusing Beijing of complicity. One of them read: "Myanmar's military dictatorship is made in China".

One of the possible reasons for this belief is that China has not come out to criticise the coup.


Protesters in Myanmar pressure Singapore firms to leave

Protesters carrying placards near the Singapore embassy in Yangon. PHOTO: EI PHYU

Singapore-linked firms have come under pressure from pro-democracy groups as the military crackdown on anti-coup protests in Myanmar grows in violence and bloodshed by the day.

Protests have spilled over from the streets to online, as activists name foreign firms operating in Myanmar that they say may be channelling funds to the military.

The Myanmar army seized power from the elected government on Feb 1, citing alleged voter fraud in the November 2020 election to justify the coup.


Foreign military intervention in Myanmar looks unlikely, despite protesters' pleas

Protesters prepare to face off against security forces during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, on March 5, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

Facing a brutal crackdown, pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar are pleading for foreign intervention - even military - to force the regime that seized power on Feb 1 to back down.

Some cite the UN's Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

But diplomats say anything like a military intervention is out of the question.


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