than Democracy Junta Chief Than Shwe and the SPDC have been replaced by President Thein Sein and a new Parliament, but has there been any meaningful change in Burma? By HTET AUNG and STEPHEN BLOOM
he new civilian government structure enshrined in Burma’s 2008 Constitution is now in place—the Parliament has held its first session and, at least on the surface, the country’s two-decade-long military rule has ended. But despite the facade, the Burmese people’s desire to live in a free democratic nation is still far from being realized, as evidenced by what has taken place since the election last November.
In January, before the MPs ever arrived at their shiny new Parliament building in Naypyidaw, SnrGen Than Shwe and the other top generals that made up the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) took several steps to undermine the power and authority of the elected officials. First, Than Shwe signed a “special fund law” that gave the commander-in-chief of the armed forces unlimited and unrestricted access to funds for the vaguely defined purposes of national defense and