From Military Rule to Democracy: The Changing Face of Myanmar?

Talk Tuesday 22 September 2015, 7:00 PM


On 8 November, the people of Myanmar will go to the polls in an election that is being seen as a step towards full democracy after nearly half a century of military rule.

Myanmar has seen reforms come into effect since 2010, when military rule was replaced by a military-backed civilian government, but how far have these reforms gone and what more needs to be done?

One of the largest and once one of the richest countries in Southeast Asia, what impact have successive military regimes had on Myanmar?

With a panel of experts we will explore what life is like in Myanmar, the political and ethical divisions, and what change the election will bring.

Chaired by Paul French, an author and widely published analyst and commentator on Asia, Asian politics and current affairs. He is author of North Korea: State of Paranoia and the international bestseller Midnight in Peking.

The panel:

Hkanhpa Sadan is general secretary of the Kachin National Council, Kachin National Organisation. He is one of the founding members of the exile Kachin political movement based in the UK with branches across Europe, the US and Asia.

Dr Richard Cockett is editor and correspondent at The Economist. He is the author of several books, including Sudan: Darfur and the Failure of an African state and Blood, Dreams and Gold: The Changing Face of Burma.

Robert Cooper worked for ten years for the European Union High Representative, Javier Solana and later Catherine Ashton. From 2012 he served a further year as a special adviser on Myanmar. He served as a diplomat from 1970 to 2002, his posts included Tokyo, Brussels, Bonn, head of the policy planning staff and Asia director.

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon is a campaigns officer at Burma Campaign UK. She is the daughter of Mya Aye, one of the leaders of the 88-generation Students Group. Born in Rangoon – because of her father’s activities she faced harassment and discrimination and left the country in 2006 to continue her studies.


Photo: Htoo Tay Zar. Aung San Suu Kyi greeting supporters from Bago State in 2011.