Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Volume 4 Issue 18: Intelligent Investing

Burma's Turn. When Is It Malaysia's Turn?

I kept this article from quite a while back but didn't manage to write anything meaningful about it. Nonetheless, it is a Stiglitz piece, and it would be a shame if I did not share it. Stiglitz talks about Burma (or now known as Myanmar) and its prospects after the leadership change which brought forth a string of rapid reform measures that makes Najib's reform measures look bad. Here is some extract:
Under the leadership of the new president, Thein Sein, the authorities have responded to calls for a political and economic opening. Progress has been made on peace agreements with ethnic-minority insurgents – conflicts rooted in the divide-and-rule strategy of colonialism, which the country’s post-independence rulers maintained for more than six decades. The Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was not only released from house arrest, but is now campaigning hard for a parliamentary seat in April’s by-elections. 
On the economic front, unprecedented transparency has been introduced into the budgetary process. Expenditures on health care and education have been doubled, albeit from a low base. Licensing restrictions in a number of key areas have been loosened. The government has even committed itself to moving towards unifying its complicated exchange-rate system. 
The spirit of hope in the country is palpable, though some older people, who saw earlier moments of apparent relaxation of authoritarian rule come and go, remain cautious. Perhaps that is why some in the international community are similarly hesitant about easing Myanmar’s isolation. But most Burmese sense that if changes are managed well, the country will have embarked on an irreversible course.
I think the question that is so mind-boggling is, if countries like Myanmar and Senegal can do it, what is stopping Malaysia from implementing meaningful reforms? Are we so short of ideas? You know it is worrying when your Prime Minister has to set up a website to seek ideas on how to improve the country.