Moral Government and Repression in Myanmar

I recently received from Khun Kasit Piromya, a Thai colleague of ours and a former Foreign Minister of Thailand, a copy of a letter recently sent to the leaders of the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations insisting on a more determined engagement with the military junta in Myanmar. You may read the letter here.

A moment’s consideration will lead to the conclusion that the military commanders who have forcefully taken control of public authority in Myanmar are not following the ethics of moral government, as set forth in the Caux Round Table (CRT) Principles for Government.

The generals do not see themselves as trustees of a trust to serve all the people of Myanmar. They do not accept personal responsibility to serve the public as a worthy community, but rather would impose their own priorities on the people as subjects of a regime and not as citizens possessing rights.

However, in the history of humanity, getting those with power to live up to good ideals has not often been achieved. Conflict between rulers and the ruled has been too much the norm.

Roughly speaking, it has only been with the rise of middle classes and mass education that has permitted the emergence of more responsible governments, respecting the people and accepting constitutional norms. That social reality, which facilitated the rise of more fair and responsible governments in the modern era, was made possible by capitalism and its generation of the industrial and post-industrial economies.

Though reforming bad government is never easy, I believe we must always speak decency to power and set standards for those who hold political power. This is the course taken by the CRT to foster conditions in which moral capitalism may more fully be achieved within just political orders.