How long does a democratic transition take? Many exhausted activists throughout the world whisper such questions. They sometimes doubted if they were making a valid question. In the case of Myanmar, the international community, scholars, and activists were curious about how democratisation will work. It was just until a military coup in early February 2021.
In post-coup Myanmar, local or international actors rewrite their questions. They have seen there are many more unknown factors in Myanmar’s case. They have heard almost enough voices from Myanmar’s civil society about democratic values or institutions, good governance, transparency and accountability, human rights, inclusiveness, and federalism in the previous decade. Many local civil society organisations welcomed active citizens’ participation for such voices in making democracy in Myanmar.
In restoring democracy for Myanmar, the actors need to continue their works while making the right questions.
The coup has changed the game. All tenderly nurtured democratic values and institutions has been broken. The population tries to survive the accumulating threats for lives, freedoms and security under the challenging context of pandemic and economic collapse. Local organisations opt for adaptability and survival to sustain their role in such an environment of undermining freedom of assembly, association, and expression. But HOW? It is the question the international community would ask. Is the civic space in Myanmar closing or shrinking?
Pandita Development Institute (Pandita) has disseminated a research report on that title. It is simply sure that the question will not be answered in such a brief report. In the report launch, many international actors poured down more and more questions on the trends of local civil society, operation and security concerns, and changing legitimacy environments.
Pandita may not provide enough answers for each crucial question; however, they just flashed some realities on the ground. In restoring democracy for Myanmar, the actors need to continue their works while making the right questions. At least, the questions will shed some light not to harm restoring a democracy.