15 February 2022
It is over a year since the Myanmar military staged a coup and seized control of the country, imprisoning elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the National League for Democracy. At a time of intensifying geostrategic rivalries – and with so many countries tested to breaking point by COVID-19 – the coup-makers bet on exhaustion and distraction among the western democracies. It is unsurprising that the sharp deterioration of Myanmar’s security, economic and humanitarian situation throughout 2021 failed to generate a rapid or effective international response.
In this presentation, Professor Nicholas Farrelly will look ahead by exploring four scenarios for Myanmar’s future drawing on his years of research in Naypyitaw and across the country’s vast borderlands. He considers Myanmar’s stark decline since the coup alongside a broader set of reflections on the challenges facing democratic institutions and the ongoing success of authoritarian political models in Asia and elsewhere. Professor Farrelly will consider the options for foreign policymakers and outside advocates seeking to help shape a more positive future for the people of Myanmar after so much violence and trauma.
Professor Nicholas Farrelly is Head of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania, where he leads a large multi-disciplinary team responding to important local, national and global issues. After graduating from the Australian National University, he completed his M.Philand D.Phil at the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 2006, Nicholas founded New Mandala, a website which has gone on to become the preeminent public forum in Southeast Asian Studies. He previously held key academic positions in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, including as Deputy Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and as Director of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre, an institution he helped establish in 2015. From 2017-2019 Nicholas was an Associate Dean in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. In 2020 he was appointed to the Board of the Australia-ASEAN Council.