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History and analysis

Individual Documents

Date of publication: June 2015
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Myanmar has captured the world’s attention with its transition away from authoritarian military rule towards democracy. Since 2011, a series of major reforms have seen the country move from a repressive political system to one that is more focused on people-centered development; from a statedominated to a market-oriented economy; from decades of ethnic conflict towards a nationwide ceasefire and political dialogue; and from regional isolation to re-engagement in global affairs. This process of political and economic transformation has been accompanied by calls for reform of the public sector in Myanmar from many quarters. Political parties have taken to the streets over constitutional reform; students have marched to demand changes to the National Education Law; farmers have protested for land rights; and urban residents have complained about frequent power outages. Public expectations of government are rising, and demands are more visible, given the greater space for public expression in recent years. Outspoken criticism of the public sector, however, has also come from some surprising sources. President U Thein Sein and his senior ministers have delivered a series of, at times, blistering speeches calling for a change in the ‘mindset’ of government officials.."
Author/creator: David Hook, Tin Maung Than and Kim N. B. Ninh
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asia Foundation
Format/size: pdf (761K-reduced version, 915K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/AF-2015-Public_Sector_Reform-en-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 11 September 2015

Title: Capacity dilemma in Myanmar
Date of publication: 05 September 2012
Description/subject: "Profound disagreements among careful observers and participants on the Myanmar scene are still prevalent on President Thein Sein’s current reforms, including over their significance, extent, and likely longevity. These include pro and anti-sanctions groups, insiders on both sides of the reform fence, and various interested governments of distinct and distant preferences. Yet on one issue there is virtually unanimous agreement: the institutions of Myanmar lack sufficient capacity and institutions are essential if reforms are to take deep root. Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, separately or together, are personally necessary for reforms to succeed. But their personalities alone are not sufficient. To implement reforms in any field and to build institutions, the need for training and the development of modern skills in traditional and emerging avenues are self evident. "Training" is the watchword of the day in Myanmar..."
Author/creator: David I Steinberg
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 12 September 2012

Title: Muddling through past legacies: Myanmar's civil bureaucracy and the need for reform
Date of publication: 2004
Description/subject: "Myanmar's governance problems originate from poor civil bureaucratic structures... Discussions of Myanmar tend to focus on its national politics, its ethnic schisms, or its state-society relations. What is often ignored is the state of the civil bureaucratic structure, which in Myanmar has steadily declined since the post-colonial governments took over the responsibility of political leadership. Bureaucracy is the arm of government that ultimately must deliver political promises and face the public in day-to-day matters. Yet concerns about the nature and role of Myanmar’s civil bureaucracy have been overshadowed by the salience of the seemingly more central political issues. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to redirect some attention to the country’s enduring bureaucracy and ways in which it could possibly be regenerated. The paper argues that as is usually the case in developing states under extended periods of either direct or indirect military rule, Myanmar’s civil bureaucracy has long been characterized by a high degree of centralization, a weak degree of administrative and managerial autonomy and an almost nonexistent consultative process. In addition, the paper also points out that unlike many developing countries, Myanmar has yet to undertake any comprehensive attempt at reforming its civil bureaucracy. This paper explores the two most common usages of the term ‘bureaucracy’ and applies it to this paper. A broad historical overview of Myanmar’s civil bureaucracy since independence in order to provide some context is also conducted. The paper also considers prospects of bureaucratic reform in present-day Myanmar. The paper finds that: * a reformed civil bureaucracy will play a large part in, while simultaneously being contingent upon, the country’s unfolding political process * comprehensive change as a facilitator of both state transformation and a modern bureaucracy will work against the perceived interest of those who have long benefited from manipulating and exploiting their positions in the public services * Myanmar’s bureaucrats must be given a new set of rules to replace the old ones, and be availed a set of ethics and values to govern their role, attitude, perception, and behaviour if this process of bureaucratic re-organisation is to be successful The paper concludes by noting that perhaps the central guiding tenet should be that the greatest possible extent that control of the civil bureaucracy should rest with the public and officials who are representative of that public. Whereas this may sound implausible today when the control mindset is still strong and national politics not quite sorted out, it is not inconceivable at some future point..."
Author/creator: A. M. Mutebi,
Language: English
Source/publisher: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, University of Singapore via Eldis
Format/size: pdf (182K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/wp62.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 August 2005