A banknote as a symbol of change


Burmese banknote
(source BBC)


A simple Burmese banknote worth 5.000 Kyats (3.60€, 4$, 2.60£) has agitated the whole south-east Asian country. But this simple piece of paper is most likely to tell us more about future of the country than anything else. It has been signed by former dictator Than Shwe, his successor Thein Sein and the opposition’s leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and gives hints about the countries future leader.

From 1988 to 2010, Myanmar suffered from a military dictatorship. The country was internationally isolated and all opposition was repressed. Aung San Suu Kyi, the face of the resistance, was robbed of her freedom for 25 years and put under arrest at home. It is important to notice that, although there was still a parliament, its representatives where from parties supporting the regime and working with the army. In 1990 the country held elections but, because the government wasn’t happy with its outcome, it remained in place and went on with their dictatorship. In 2010, Ms. Suu Kyi regained her freedom due to international pressure (which is not always as useless as it seems). And in 2011, the dictator General Than Shwe left power and gave it to General Thein Sein, but still continued to take the main decisions.

In 2015 they finally held, relatively free, elections which resulted in Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), getting 364 out of 664 seats in the parliaments. It therefore won the elections with 54, 8%. But, unfortunately, the Burmese constitution says that the president cannot be affiliated to foreigners. With Ms. Suu Kyi’s two son’s being British, she cannot legally become president. Of course, the constitution could be changed, but the military, who’s still strong, can set a veto to prevent this. There have already been a few meetings between Ms. Suu Kyi and the former leaders of the country and even if they have not taken tangible decisions yet, the talks went well. Some even think it’s possible that the military will give green lights to a change of the constitution.

During the evening of Saturday the 5th December, former dictator Than Shwen’s grandson, Nay Shwe Thway Aung, posted a picture of the 5.000 kyat banknote. Previously he had already set up a meeting between his Grandfather and Ms. Suu Kyi, which took place in a rather tense less climate. The opposition leader said that she does not aspire vengeance but only wants to “build a successful Myanmar”. It shows that the talks are serious and will probably end in some real decisions. Some see the signatures on the banknote as a symbol of a succession line, with Ms.Suu Kyi being the last link in a chain leading Myanmar towards freedom and democracy. Some other still find it hard to believe that the military will step back from power. But this banknote shows that there is serious hope for Myanmar.


Suu Kyi and thein sein
Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein (source: BBC)



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