Top Ten Essay from Purrfect Essay Competition
by Eaindray Bo Bo
It is November once again, I realised in surprise, as I drove along the flyover in northern Yangon this morning to my workplace. Time did fly swiftly and stealthily- half a decade almost felt like a couple of months. Five years ago, after their second historic landslide victory, the government was welcome to their second-term in office with a political volcano steaming to erupt with loads of heated problems. In fact, time has passed unnoticed for us, not because it has been all peace and quiet since 2020, but because we have been constantly surfing the ups and downs of the country through our journey to recovery.
Even to the most oblivious of us, changes are evident. Electricity coverage has substantially grown since alternative sources of energy have come into play. Plus, people now commute across several important areas of Yangon in subways, and everyday I drive to my workplace crossing two of the new flyovers that adorn Yangon's skyline. Traffic congestion is not extinct, but it has been mitigated by improved public transport such as trains, buses and even water buses. Road traffic accidents have been reduced by installing more pedestrian signal lights and providing bicycle lanes for dashing delivery cyclists, an indicator of flourishing e-commerce.
Electronic commerce is a seed sowed during the storms of the pandemic, and now its blooming potential has gained more recognition. Although it is not the ultimate solution for Myanmar’s financial predicaments, it did undeniably cushion the impacts of pandemic-associated economic regressions. Then, in the aftermath of the pandemic, the government worked proactively to secure international trade agreements and to improve connectivity through more efficient transportation and increased accessibility of information technology, which used to be a major hurdle against digital economy. With local businesses becoming increasingly capable of accessing diversified markets, Myanmar is starting to actualise its potential as an important economic frontier of Asia.
Foreign investments have been encouraged by such advances, but another noteworthy factor is the dedication of the government to recovering the image of Myanmar as a humane democratic society on the global stage. In addressing human rights issues , the government has shown more sensitivity and transparency. Closer governmental cooperation with local and international organizations has been observed in relieving the humanitarian crises of refugees. Regarding the cessation of civil wars, progress towards peace is finally gaining momentum as more of the ethnic armed organizations are negotiating effectively with the government. In addition, the government has recently been giving more attention to addressing human rights violations in the community, such as domestic violence and labour rights, and other unlawful activities such as corruption. Again, digital platforms have been increasingly employed to facilitate awareness-raising and reporting these issues.
Nonetheless, digital campaigns can only achieve so much without taking into the equation the efficiency of operating mechanisms in government departments. Bureaucracy has not been abolished, and as we all have known, for the past decade, certain political complexities have been woven into the fabrics of the administrative and legislative systems all throughout the country. Lubricating these rusty mechanisms and renewing trust of the people will take more than a decade. Only then will the reliance of civilians be achieved, and we will be able to create safe and effective routes for everyone to express themselves without compromising their safety or future.
Interestingly, youth have taken more active roles in politics, and we have seen more practical implementations from the government to foster the inclusion of youth in peacebuilding dialogues and even in administrative positions. In fact, the government has proceeded with nurturing human resources through educational reforms and policy revisions even amidst the economic burdens caused by the pandemic. As promised, school years for basic education have been extended and curricula revised to prepare learners for challenges of the dynamic world. There is more emphasis on physical education and science whereas children formerly had to spend all of their learning hours for rote memorisation and exam-centred teaching in class. Ethnic children now get to explore their languages and cultural heritages in customised textbooks. Vocational training schools have also proliferated across the country, befitting the needs of local youth and providing them better alternatives to dropping out. Similar improvements can be observed in the higher education sector where many colleges and universities have transformed into autonomous institutions.
Likewise, education and working conditions for healthcare professionals have been upgraded in order to improve the quality of healthcare. However, achieving the aim of universal health coverage has been hindered by the pandemic. Speaking of the pandemic, the majority of the population have been vaccinated against the virus just within a year after the approval of vaccines. But, with uncertainties in the efficacy and long-term immunity of the vaccine, disease control measures and personal protective practices are still in place which, by now, have become habitual for most of us as if they were a part of our evolutionary processes. Owing to these, COVID-19 is now a tamed monster which occasionally manifests itself with sporadic new cases.
In hindsight, even though 2020 was a nightmare, the five years that followed have not been so unpleasant. Our country is still a messy canvas to fix: infrastructure developments and a few changes in policy will not suffice. As the essence of development lies in sustainability and inclusivity, it remains to be ensured that everyone, including ethnic minorities and discriminated social groups, benefit proportionately from these advances and that our futures are protected with resilient social security programs. Many sensitive socio-political controversies such as legal protection of commercial sex workers are yet to be addressed. And albeit in progress, peace and replacement of refugees are still in need of definite solutions. In such terms, we certainly have a long way to go. But most importantly, our voyage has been directed forward even against the backward pull of the pandemic, and our goal of democratic federalism, though far-off, has finally come into sight. And this very sight is the most promising sign for us to keep faith.
Eaindray Bo Bo is a Fourth Year (Final Part-1) student from University of Medicine-1, Yangon. Besides medical subjects, she has a keen interest in literature and languages. In 2018, she won the second prize for Impromptu Speech at National Level English Proficiency Competition. She has actively participated in several extracurricular activities as a volunteer, and most recently, she has served as a member of Public Relations Committee in UM-1 Students’ Union. She is aspiring to be a good essayist, a content creator and a storyteller. Currently, she is volunteering as a content writer for a youth-led public health advocacy project.