The Rape of Burma
SYDNEY – Burma, once the richest country in Southeast Asia, today is mired in deep poverty. Its economy ruined by nearly 50 years of economic mismanagement under military rule, the only international rankings that it tops are those for most corrupt nation, world’s worst health system, and lowest spending on education – “accolades” that are sadly indicative of its people’s suffering.
And yet, over the last few years Burma has also emerged as a significant producer of energy in Southeast Asia. Thanks to large fields of recoverable natural gas located offshore, Burma now earns substantial foreign exchange revenues.
At present, most of these revenues ($1-1.5 billion per year, depending on price fluctuations) come from Thailand. Gas from Burma, piped onshore from the Gulf of Martaban, generates around 20% of Bangkok’s electricity supply.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one to read two commentaries for free? Log in