Author Bertil Lintner: ‘In Myanmar they are putting the cart before the horse’

Prominent Myanmar-watcher, journalist and author (“Outrage”, “Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Struggle for Democracy”) Bertil Lintner was in Yangon for a weeklong journalism workshop. The formerly blacklisted writer was interviewed by Mizzima’s Tin Zar Aung about recent political developments and the year ahead.

The government has previously stated it is following a 7 step roadmap. Where are we now?

I think we are at the end of the roadmap. I haven’t seen any more steps.

Are Myanmar’s political and economic reforms real?

Not really. A friend of mine summed it up by saying, everything is different now but nothing has changed. There is more press freedom than before, political parties can be active but the basic power structure in society has not changed.

It is not only the 25 percent of the seats reserved for the military in parliament that gives them effective veto rights against any constitutional change. The military also has the final say in the appointment of the defence minister, home minister and the minister of border affairs, the three ministries that are overseeing security. The ministry of home affairs is a very important ministry. And more importantly, the armed forces answer to the commander in chief, not to the elected government or parliament.