Myanmar coup generals were met with disgust on the streets and coldness in the outside world. But after several military systems, it is almost impossible to distinguish the defense of society as a whole – the military companies are big at everything from mineral mining in the mine to supplying fruit in the market.
On the occasion of Army Day on March 27 this year, the Myanmar army, led by the leader of the junta, took the opportunity to show their muscles with a military parade in the capital, Naypyitaw.
Among backpackers and other visitors to Myanmar, the influence of the military, known as Tatmadu, has been an obvious topic of talks for decades. Even those who did not adhere to that much got to hear that once you buy a hotel night, plane ticket, or drink, it says “ka-tjing” in a Tatmadu company.
Since the junta seized the country’s government in February, and security forces have subsequently increasingly brutally suppressed all protests, among other things, the European Union and the United States declared in March that the blocs should be punished with sanctions.
But it is difficult to completely freeze it without affecting all possible activities in Myanmar.
The vast stretch of the Tatmadaw dates back to 1962, when the army first took power after the country’s independence 14 years ago.
Since then many systems have come and gone. The business community has partially reopened – but many still testify that the conglomerate’s grip remains.
It is described the same way a Sicilian businessman talks about the mafia, George MacLeod, head of risk management company Access Asia, tells the BBC.
– If you end up on the (military) radar, then deal with them. But you don’t want that.
In the wake of the February and March events, a power struggle has begun – partly in secret – over which path Myanmar should take. The Western world is trying, under cover, to push towards democracy. The eastern powers, Russia and China, appear ready to expand their cooperation – and influence – regardless of who controls Myanmar. The military council is showing no signs of interest in internal or external dissatisfaction.
These generals who now hold power are largely the same group that ruled under the State Council for Peace and Development (SPDC) regime (Military Government 1997-2011). “They have shown that they are completely happy to live in a secluded country,” Peter Kocic, who used to work in the field of sanctions at the US Treasury Department, told the BBC.
At the same time, many in Myanmar have gained a taste for more international contacts, during the period of sharp increase in tourism and business across the border when the country had a civil government from 2011-2021.
They want to trade with major Japanese companies, they want to trade with companies in the West, and they want an international role in the same way as Thailand, Kochek summarizes the opinions.
Myanmar (formerly Burma) is centrally located in South Asia, with Bangladesh and India to the west, China to the north, Laos and Thailand to the east. With an area of just over 675,000 square kilometers, it is about 50 percent larger than Sweden. The population is estimated at 54 million.
The country was colonized by Britain in the nineteenth century. During World War II, the country was occupied by Japan, before it became independent in 1948. The military seized power in 1962 and ruled autocratically until 2010, when some democratization began.
Former opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has played a leading role over the past decade. But her room for maneuver was restricted by the army, which decided, among other things, not to allow her to become president.
During the February coup, Aung San Suu Kyi and many other civilian leaders were arrested. They are still locked up.