Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s leading statesman commented on his efforts to advice Burmese military leaders by noting they were, for the most part, not the brightest people in the world. “These are rather dumb generals when it comes to the economy. How can they mismanage the economy and each this stage when the country has so many natural resources?” He expressed concern that if Myanmar’s present military leaders were suddenly swept from the scene there would be chaos because the army so permeates the entire economy of the nation. Yew said he had been trying for years to offer advice to Burma’s military junta and thought former prime minister and head of the intelligence, Khin Nyunt, was listening and willing to make changes until swept from office and placed under arrest. “I do not believe,” said Yew, “they can survive indefinitely.”
There is little doubt the basic essence of Yew’s comments are correct about the inept performance of the military junta when it comes to managing Burma’s economy, but at the same time they have been proficient in the imposition of a cruel dictatorship upon the country. An unknown factor is whether or not there are lower level officers who are aware of the need for change in their country. The hope for Burma is that such elements exist and will some day assume positions of leadership to institute change. In the meantime, nations like China and India are the only hope for exerting pressure on the military junta.