Myanmar’s Political Transition and Lost Opportunities (2010–2016)
"Myanmar’s Political Transition is therefore a valuable addition to our understanding of a tumultuous period in Myanmar politics. While we may want to find fault with both the priorities of the players and the structures of their flawed political reform project, thanks to Ye Htut we have a new resource that can help explain what happened and why."
Cyril Pereira, South China Morning Post, 2020.
"Ye Htut provides rich detail on the interplay between the president's office, the military's Union Solidarity and Development (USDP) and the civilian National League for Democracy (NLD). His book profiles the main actors, their motivations and the frictions between the legislature and the president during the troubled passage to civilian power-sharing.
The book does not dwell on the painful mass uprisings of 1988, or why the junta allowed the transition in the first place. Nevertheless, writing a tell-all book is a brave errand when many powerful players remain alive and involved in politics."
Author's interview with The Standard Time Daily:
About the publication
This book is about the politics of Myanmar under the reformist president Thein Sein. After taking office in March 2011, Thein Sein initiated the bloodless Myanmar Spring. He was able to transform Myanmar into a more transparent and dynamic society, bring Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition activists into the political process, initiate a peace process with the ethnic armed organizations, reintegrate Myanmar into the international community after five decades of isolation, and, most importantly, for the first time since the country regained independence in 1948, he was able to enact the peaceful transfer of power from one elected government to another. But Thein Sein also lost opportunities to deliver what the people anticipated, and he failed to bring his USDP party to victory in the 2015 election.
This book is not about the successes of the Thein Sein administration. Rather, it examines the reasons behind the lost opportunities in the transition to democracy. It draws on the author’s experiences as a member of Thein Sein’s cabinet as well as on extensive interviews with other cabinet members and politicians involved in the crucial events that took place between 2010 and 2016. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in this critical period of change for Myanmar.
U Ye Htut provides an invaluable insider’s account of the workings of the Myanmar government at its highest levels—the personalities and ambitions of its senior figures, their intrigues, feuds, and alliances—during Myanmar's transition to democracy between 2011 and 2016. The account is marked by immense detail but above all by the author’s directness, open-mindedness, and careful judgement. This is essential reading for all those with an interest in Myanmar’s modern politics.
—Ian Brown, Emeritus Professor of the Economic History of South East Asia
Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies, London
For more than half a century, observers have struggled to overcome the opaqueness of Myanmar’s government and security forces. Here, at long last, is a rare account, in English, of a critical period in Myanmar’s modern history, based on an insider’s intimate knowledge of people and events. As such, it helps fill a major gap in the literature and makes a unique contribution to contemporary Myanmar studies.
—Andrew Selth, Adjunct Professor
Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University, Australia
Ye Htut has given us a rare peek into the black box of Myanmar’s democratic transition, which anyone interested in Myanmar politics should read.
—Ang Cheng Guan, Associate Dean and Head, Graduate Studies
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
This book by Ye Htut is a rare, first-hand account of one of the most critical eras in recent Myanmar history: the Thein Sein period, 2011–16. The author refers to it as a time of genuine transition but also missed opportunities. The book provides a unique and in-depth perspective by a well-placed participant of Myanmar’s transition to civilian rule. Once part of the military establishment, Ye Htut became the civilian minister of information during Thein Sein’s tenure. The book is balanced and fair with the kind of detail only someone in the position Ye Htut had could have provided. It is a “must read” for any serious observer of Myanmar's recent history, especially the inner dynamics of its politics, much of which—for better or for worse—remains personal and local, and in some cases, traditional.
—Michael Aung-Thwin, Professor of Asian Studies
University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
1. The National Convention
2. The Constitution
3. The Union Solidarity and Development Party
4. Myanmar Spring and Aung San Suu Kyi
5. The Union Government
6. The Government and the Parliament
7. Shwe Mann’s Checkmates
8. Turning Points
9. Media Reform
Appendix A: President Thein Sein’s Inaugural Address
Appendix B: President Thein Sein’s First Address to the Cabinet
List of Interviewees
About the Author
The Veil of Circumstance: Technology, Values, Dehumanization and the Future of Economics and Politics