Crisis? What Crisis?
As Cyclone Komen wreaked havoc and continues to cause countrywide inundation and devastation, the nominally civilian government is once again found wanting in coming immediately to the rescue with emergency services and vital assistance, even by their own admission. Into the breach stepped in local volunteers and civil society groups mustering resources – funds, personnel and material help of essential supplies and food.
The Hand of God may well be blamed for natural disasters but why is it that the authorities always get caught completely unprepared even to issue a timely warning for people to take necessary precautions or to evacuate? Sadly it is a matter of the lack of political will, in other words the wrong set of priorities. They have no strategy, no plans long term or short for immediate action, no infrastructure (not even one of their favourite showcase committees) in place, let alone resources allocated and ring fenced for national emergencies such as this beyond declaring parts of the country disaster areas. Worse, assistance coming from both the civic minded public and the international community is regarded as challenging or undermining their own authority. We have seen plenty of evidence in the past when seven years ago Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawaddy delta causing total devastation and tremendous loss of life and property. The official reluctance to allow international aid into the country provoked the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner to invoke R2P (Responsibility to Protect) at the United Nations. The governance of Burma in fact has been a disaster area since the military coup of 1962.
The ruling military regime’s overweening concern and top priority at the time proved to be not the welfare of the public but pushing through the referendum for a new custom made constitution meticulously tailored over a decade to entrench their grip on power. Whilst paying lip service like most ruling elites and politicians do the world over, their agenda has always been looking out for number one at the expense of an entire nation of a diverse, tolerant and long suffering populace under military misrule which continues to this day.
An infamous example was set long ago by Ne Win when Rangoon General Hospital acquired its first kidney dialysis machine but not until his wife Khin May Than fell ill with kidney failure. More recently the same kind of action (inaction or neglect rather when they had signally failed to establish a good healthcare system with hospitals of international standard inside the country over their long reign) was taken by the family of Aung Thaung, a cabinet member and former general well known for his loyal services and strong arm tactics, in particular the infamous attempt on Aung San Suu Kyi’s life during the Depayin Massacre, when he was urgently flown to Singapore in a desperate attempt alas in vain at reviving him from a massive stroke. Another general and prime minister Soe Win before him died after medical treatment in Singapore in 2007. A two tier system of healthcare within our own borders would not seem adequate for their ilk.
Healthcare is but one public sector which remains woefully inadequate for a population of over 50 million. Education, transportation, telecommunications, not least basic essential utilities such as clean water and sanitation, electricity in the midst of plenty being generated for export, all adds up to a recipe for disaster not natural but from man’s inaction.
In their rush to globalisation and join the New World Order what has been of less than secondary importance notwithstanding all the politically correct jargon, sound bites and buzz words being uttered daily by the government ministers is simply the welfare of the majority. Thinking beyond their own further enrichment and staying power has not been their forte, never mind national emergencies such as the devastating floods continuing to destroy life, land and property. On the other hand one can bet they will always have not just plan B but all the way to Zee when it comes to managing their own impending disaster from popular protest and another potential popular uprising.