Just back in Bangkok after two weeks in Burma. I find the modern city a bit deceiving. Over the border the air is less tense then usual, and bits of openings are clear. You can have a telephone card, although very limited; you can browse most of the Internet except sensible sites; you can use your GMail account (all the others are blocked, probably because checking a single one is easier). People are also much more relaxed and hopeful: next year elections are seen as a great opportunity, even if other occasions have failed in the past. But to a more attentive look you can't miss the obvious: the menacing grim on the soldier faces; the privileges that the few in the establishment have, preserve and show-off; the sense of fear that emerges when one's feel has gone "too far".
Once again I understand that the international community may push the military rulers to release some of the control, convince China that it's control would be not compromised by a bit of freedom, but in the end only the people could change things. That people have the government they deserves is a fact. Burmese are really lacking the urge to react, the will to change for good. It's true that the country separation in major ethnic groups plays in the hands of the dictators, but every group seems to be minding it's own interests only. And the Burmese, the ruling group, are not willing to give up their control, with or without the military in power.
What will happen in this wonderful land is not easy to guess, although probably change will be slow, to avoid an inter-ethnic bloodshed. And when change will come everybody is ready to jump in. The cultural and artistic treasures, really unique, will be surrounded by fast development like in the rest of Asia, and most of the soul will vaporize. "Freedom" will be costly, right but costly.
Enlightened Burmese know this danger, and demand evolution rather the revolution. But the outside pressure will be too big to hold. China is already building a major containers port on the Indian Ocean and the road to carry it's merchandise there. Thailand is pumping most of the country gas. India is using it's oil. While in here electricity is scarce, gasoline expensive, vehicles 20 years old.
There is this house on the lake in Yangon. Aung San Suu Kyi lives here, less guarded then the houses of her jailers. She represents the contradictions of this nation, but also the right to determine freely everybody's own destiny. As far as the world will let Burmese awake and grow.