INSIDE MYANMAR, MAY 22 -- We will have to wait and see what Ban ki-moon will be able to accomplish, particularly in opening up the cyclone-affected areas to foreign assistance. He is the highest-ranking foreign dignitary to come to post-cyclone Myanmar and he will be adding his voice to convince the SPDC (the State Peace and Development Council, the official name of the military regime) that more cooperation is necessary, especially if the Myanmar government expects to receive the amount of reconstruction assistance that it (and the UN) has asked for.
Frustration runs high since everyone knows that only a fraction of the aid needed is reaching the survivors, a consequence largely of the government's turning down the most effective modalities of assistance, namely the naval relief assets waiting offshore. The regime's obduracy and indifference in this life-and-death matter affecting thousands is utterly deplorable and will go down in history. But did people expect anything different? Observers who had asserted that the military rulers thrive on isolation have been proved right once again. But blaming the West or any foreign nation for this is merely a convenient means of sidestepping the real issue. The fault lies with the Myanmar
The UN-sponsored Pledging Conference scheduled for Sunday 25th May will be lucky to come up with half the $ 200 million asked for (itself not much to begin with). Perhaps what we might be witnessing is the nature of things taking its course. There will be penury, deprivation and predation, and a period of lawlessness cannot be ruled out. The hardships of rural life during the colonial era and the dislocation of WW II had fed the post-war Communist insurrection. Now, even in the absence of a leftist ideology, radical movements might emerge in the countryside. When people pick up their lives and find that there is not enough to eat, looting and violence become the only options.