Top Ten Essay from Purrfect Essay Competition
by Saw Min Nyo
This is 2025. Myanmar is now perceived to be largely a democratic country. Parties such as the National League for Democracy(NLD), Union Solidarity and Development Party(USDP) and Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) equally hold a large share of seats in the Hluttaws (parliaments). Local business groups such as Yoma Holdings, Kanbawza and Shwe Taung are performing in each of their domains, employing a large number of people. There is a strong base of civil societies fighting for key issues such as women’s rights and drug abuse. However, underneath all these clear signs of development are hidden threats. Economic development has taken a backseat to political reforms of rewriting the constitution. Instead of competing fairly through open innovation, consolidated businesses groups have used their power and size to exploit customers. Realising the dangers of a strong civil society, which has enabled them to rise to power initially, the new government formed a coalition to crush competition and even distort public discourse.
Despite all these, not all hope is lost. This new political arrangement brings opportunities that were not possible before. The new government now has been forced to shift from a blanket policy approach that aims to implement the same policy across the country, towards a needs-based approach. Initially, the NLD government could implement policies as they pleased since there was insufficient opposition to keep them in check. With the decrease in seats across the regions and states, they have been forced to form coalitions with smaller parties such as SNLD to make policies that address specific needs of the different localities. NLD’s failure to realize the needs of its voter bases across the country has left them feeling neglected and they turned towards alternatives. There is hope that a targeted approach towards policy making will help provide development opportunities in an equitable manner for people outside of the main urban areas.
Economically, the steady and consistent economic liberalization by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has instilled investor confidence and continues to attract investment into the country. Since the early reforms in the early 2010s, reforms have led to the rapid development of business sectors through foreign direct investment. The prime example is the internet penetration level which rose from virtually non-existent levels in 2011 to about 30% by 2017. Such developments were only possible through opening the country to foreign investments. Additionally, the ease of business has improved significantly through further liberalisation in the private sector. This has enabled small and medium enterprises to thrive in the market. Lastly, having a strong market position has not guaranteed long-run success for big local business groups. Incumbents such as the Kanbawza Bank have had their market share eroded in recent years by much bigger multinational corporations who could offer more innovative offerings for customers. This was only possible through the largest liberalization drive by the MIC in 2023 -giving full banking license to foreign banks. MIC’s commitment to open markets has proved to us that economic opportunities are open to contest in Myanmar in 2025.
In the societal sphere, Myanmar’s civil society has been resilient against the onslaught by politicians. Years of work by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as USAID and UKAID and JICA have built up a strong sense of civic consciousness -not just in the common civic duties such as voting but also in active citizenship. Such influence has also exposed Myanmar citizens to the tremendous challenges faced by societies locally and globally, allowing them to see things from a universal perspective instead of through the lens of traditional Burmese society. Given this strong build-up in civil society, the government’s attempts at stifling these voices has only been met with even stronger civic mindedness as people realize the importance of checks on authority.
Given these developments in the year 2025, as a youth in Myanmar, I see a consultative approach to policy formulation as the way forward. I see open markets and innovation as the recipe for prosperity. And last but not least, I see strong civic awareness as the driver for change. All in all, I see prosperity not through one person, one company nor a macro factor like the government -but through a concerted effort by every stakeholder.
Saw Min Nyo is a native of Taunggyi currently finishing my undergraduate in Singapore. His parents would always stream news channels before bedtime and the young Saw would be intrigued by all the wide array of things happening around the world. He am particularly interested in the areas relating to political science and philosophy. The essay, “A snapshot from 2025”, was not solely crafted as a response to the competition question -but was a cumulation of thoughts that he has contemplated through the years.