15 APRIL 2023

Myanmar is now a “failed state with an economy in shambles”, said our Saturday seminar speaker Christopher Lamb. According to him Myanmar (Burma) was once the wealthiest country in southeast Asia. People travelled from Bangkok to Rangoon to shop. Christopher pointed out that Myanmar is probably a more accurate name for the country than Burma which was used at the time of independence from Britain but related only to the central part of the country.

Christopher Lamb as the Australian diplomat to Myanmar had firsthand experience of developments in the country. He has maintained knowledge of Myanmar and is currently president of the Australia Myanmar Institute. He drew on this experience and expertise to give a detailed and fascinating account of the country’s recent history. Burma was a British colony, administered in part by the British East India Company. Following independence from Britain in 1948, the ruling military Government adopted the Westminster system of government which according to Christopher Lamb was unworkable in a country with 135 nationalities.

He traced the successive and mostly disastrous military coups that dominated the history of Burma (Myanmar from 1988) post-independence culminating in the most brutal military coup of 2020. He described the various political and military leaders and the history of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (daughter of the hero of the independence movement who was assassinated in 1947) and her emergence in 1988 as the popular leader of the democratic movement. Despite her electoral success the military ultimately took power in a brutal fashion. Christopher acknowledged the dire state of Myanmar currently, but he is hopeful that the military will ultimately lose power. He is still working on the basis that democracy can be achieved in a complicated country.

The seminar facilitator was Rhonda Boyle.

See the VIDEO of the seminar.

Here are Christopher Lamb’s SLIDES.

Pam Caven, Saturday Seminars

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