Finding Freedom Podcast: Are we really equal?
Europe has seen many improvements in GENDER EQUALITY in recent years. Topic is not a taboo even in some less developed democracies. However, lack of equality between women and men in politic...
No free and fair elections have been held since 1990. At that time, Aung San Suu Kyiâ€˜s National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 of 485 parliamentary seats. But the ruling military junta refused to acknowledge the result of the election and stayed in power. Numerous members of the NLD were sent to prison and the army tightened its grip on power. Myanmarâ€˜s dictator, General Than Shwe, announced that elections were to be held in November 2010. But how free and fair these elections will be remains to be seen. Thereâ€˜s only little space for political participation and pluralism. Most social movements and organisations are either under (indirect) influence of the army or at least under supervision. Criticism of the regime leads to imprisonment. In 2007, the
largest anti-government protests in 20 years broke out. The regime responded by cracking down on the peaceful protesters (which also included a considerable number of Buddhist monks), and at least 31 people were killed.
There are no veto players in the political system of Myanmar â€“ the army strictly monitors all political activities and is in complete and unchallenged control. Myanmar achieves a score of 0.00 in this section. At first thought, this may be misleading as a low score actually implies a strong presence of unconstitutional veto players. However, since Myanmar is far from being a democratic country, a high score would in turn lead to a wrong overall result.
There is no such thing as press freedom, or more broadly, freedom of opinion and expression in Myanmar. The military regime owns or controls all the press and broadcasting media in the country. All private publications are censored as well. Access to the internet is heavily restricted and internet cafÃ©s are monitored. Bloggers that express any criticism towards the regime risk long prison sentences. Moreover, the military junta impedes the import of foreign news sources.
No data available.
Corruption is part of day-to-day business in Myanmar: Officeholders often abuse their positions for private benefits. Especially the judicial branch and the bureaucracy are affected. The government makes no serious efforts to fight corruption and officials do not have to fear prosecution. There are however no reliable facts on the true extent of corruption due to the repressive nature of the regime. Transparency International ranks Myanmar number 178 out of 180 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index 2009 which emphasises the severity of this problem.
The situation of human rights in Myanmar is abysmal: According to a 2009 Human Rights Watch report, about 2,100 persons are imprisoned for political reasons. Any individual can be jailed for being (allegedly) disloyal to the regime. Forced labour, child labour (children are often forcibly recruited as soldiers) and the displacement of whole villages happen on a frequent basis, especially in areas populated by ethnic minorities. The army is accused of torture, murder, rape and arbitrary detentions. The freedom of religion is not respected either: Even though provided for in the 2008 constitution, the military junta often discriminates against Christians and other religious minorities.
Real estate property and intellectual property are not protected. As a consequence, there is almost no competition between economic actors. The industry is dominated by state-owned enterprises. Other businesses are more or less controlled by businessmen with ties to the army. The military junta by and large controls the economy and is able to alter property laws for its own benefits. Investors who are in conflict with local governments or whose businesses have been illegally expropriated have little chance to get compensated.
Government expenditures (including consumption and transfer payments) are low, equalling roughly 7.2 percent of the GDP. However, this is not due to restraint by the government but rather because of a general lack of capacity. The government relies on international donors to rebuild its infrastructure which was severely damaged by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. With top income and corporate tax rates of 30 percent, Myanmar has moderately high tax rates. The overall tax revenue equals three percent of the GDP.
Loans are predominantly directed to government projects, access to credit for private entrepreneurs is constrained. The government controls banking through five state-owned institutions. Although there are several private and some foreign banks, opaque regulations create a hostile financial climate. The labour market is subject to heavy state intervention. Regulations regarding wage rates and working hours are not always observed. The army resorts to forced labour for the construction of military facilities. Unclear laws and regulations restrict private businesses. Inconsistent law enforcement further impedes the development of the private sector.
Myanmarâ€˜s foreign trade is more or less limited to the export of natural gas and agricultural products. Gas exports are managed by the army (through the Myanmar Gas and Oil Enterprise), the export of agricultural products is subject to frequent state intervention. The freedom for private entrepreneurs to engage in international trade is restricted by import/export bans and restrictions; high taxes and fees; complicated permit and licensing requirements; frequent policy changes; and corruption.