Myanmar and the 2014 ASEAN
This year proved to be quite spectacular for Myanmar, as it made big strides in the international scene.
Earlier this year President Thein Sein visited Washington and met with US President Obama discussing political reforms and economic progress. The trip was the first time that a Myanmar president visits the United States after 50 years.
Two months after, President Thein Sein went to Britain for a historic visit – a first ever Myanmar head of state to meet with the Parliament since 1947 when Aung San visited London. Apart from talks that were of political nature, the British government strengthened its support to Myanmar with £30 million development assistance.
Another milestone was reached when Miss Universe Myanmar was announced after a 52-year long hiatus from the beauty pageant early part of October.
Now all eyes are fixed at Myanmar as it is tasked to chair the ASEAN Summit in 2014. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, conducts a bi-annual meeting of its leaders. The world’s political attention will closely scrutinize how the Myanmar government will carry out its chairmanship. Will the proceedings give a hint on how the presidential polls that will culminate in 2015 be conducted?
Myanmar and the ASEAN
The ASEAN chairmanship will bring Myanmar at the forefront. It is a great opportunity for the country to push itself up and re-establish its ties in the regional community. The chairmanship is momentous as it will be the first time that Myanmar will chair the summit since its membership in 1997.
It will also set aside criticisms on Myanmar’s isolation especially when it skipped its rotational turn to chair the 2006 ASEAN Summit.
The summit is not just a one-time event. Myanmar has to start attending 1,100 meetings as the summit will draw attention of journalists, representatives and delegates worldwide.
To say that Myanmar’s foot traffic busy would be considered a huge understatement.
Can Myanmar Pull It Off?
In an area where majority of its population lack access to basic water and electricity supply be able to handle the influx of foreign visitors? Will the hotels in Naypyidaw be able to handle the attendees for the summit? The newly declared capital city is several hours away from the airport. Some critics say that Yangon pose as a more reliable choice instead of Nyapyidaw where electricity and Internet connection is reported as unstable.
However, Nyapyidaw has been working really hard to speed up construction of hotels in the city. There will be 18 countries that will participate in the summit and everyone is bent on making the event successful. Last year’s ASEAN summit was held in Brunei where more than 1,000 journalists gathered to provide coverage of the Asian bloc leaders.
Will the development of its infrastructure make it in time for the summit? Perhaps Nyapyidaw will rise to the challenge as the prestige of being the capital city of Myanmar rests on its shoulders. It will not be perfect but it definitely it will not be a disaster either as Myanmar braces itself for the deluge of visitors.