5 nov. 2013

DOCUMENTARY: "Road to Democracy - Myanmar's election struggle"

As Myanmar (Burma) keeps its surprisingly steady step into democracy and freedom, it is extremely interesting to see what is going up there. Such a peek is possible in this documentary, by SBS Dateline (Australia), via Journeyman Pictures.

This is the official summary of the report: "After half a century of brutal military rule, Myanmar is undergoing an impressive transition to democracy. But with ongoing political arrests and ethnic tensions, the country is anxious not to veer off course.

"We dared not speak up in the past. Now we dare to because we have been given the right", says a protester campaigning against land grabs in south-east Yangon. Relaxed censorship has translated into a boom in newspaper readership, comedians free to criticise the government and even a saucy girl band fighting gender stereotypes".

"But while hundreds of political prisoners have been released, protesters who fail to secure a protest permit face years in prisons. With Aung San Suu Kyi still constitutionally barred from becoming president, many laws need to be rewritten. The President's spokesman openly admits the government's shortcomings. Activist Ko Moe Thwa vigilance is paramount: "the country has changed but we need to watch carefully where this change is leading".

Aside from politics, one very telling picture of how fast the opening up and modernization of the country has taken place, is the car scene. On the background of the street scenes, you see many used Japanese cars, mainly Toyota Caldina, Nissan AD and Toyota Probox (like the taxis driven by former political prisioners).

Gone seem to be the ancient Mazda trucks (link) and the typical scenes lacking modern private cars. For excelent photo reports of the current car situation in Myanmar, here (latest, Oct 2013) and here (from May).
A month ago, Ford was celebrating the opening of its first dealership in Myamnar.
Picture: Ford's Instagram

I also wanted to post a video by the Me N Ma Girls (link to their Youtube channel), that are interviewed and appear as representation of the way Myanmar's youth joins the same fashions and interests as the rest of Asia. That is precisely part of the lyrics of "Mingalar Par", that says something like "We are like any other girl in the world" (and yes, their music is just as generic as that would imply...).

Finally, if you were curious, this is their latest video, "Girl Strong". How knows, maybe one they can be as popular worldwide as K-Pop bands have become.

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