The fervor surrounding top-down developments seems to be quelling in global news coverage even with the April by-elections coming up. I would like to highlight a couple articles that clarify the real impact of the reforms that the administration has put forth into the international spotlight.
1.Bloomberg: Myanmar Nearing Decision on Currency Float in Biggest Shift Since Opening
By Daniel Ten Kate
Another effort to become more appealing to potential trade partners in the West.
The managed float of the currency "would end a 35-year official peg to the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights, under which a dollar fetches 6.4 kyat, about 125 times stronger than the informal market rate[of 800 kyat/dollar]." The article also discusses economic sanctions and average wages for civilians.
2. Voice of America: Burmese Democracy Leader Warns of Potential Vote Fraud
This article features Aung San Suu Kyi's reservations about the election process. Canadian Foreign Minister Baird said "Western governments will closely monior the polls and their aftermath, as Western leaders decide whether to lift sanctions"
3. Huffington Post: Burma's Big Moment
By Jenny Scatena
Different take from a tourist's standpoint on the developments in Burma. To travel or not to travel? Business in Burma is the question.
4. AlertNet: New Law on Demonstrations Falls Short
Source: Content partner // Human Rights Watch // Thomson Reuters Foundation
Well-informed piece on "reforms" of public assembly (political meetings, protests, etc.) that disputes the extent of these "new civil rights".
"Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 'There is a lot of excitement about changes in Burma these days, but the government shouldn't be given credit for allowing some freedom just because none existed before. Instead, it should be pressed to make sure its laws meet international standards.' "
5. Associated Press for the Washington Post: Myanmar’s Suu Kyi forced to cut criticism of army rule in party speech on state-run TV, radio
More on media censorship, this one specifically on its impact on the current campaign process. Free and fair elections require competition; how does this fit into the Press Scrutiny and Registration Board (PSRB)'s agenda? Citizen journalists and other undercover reporters will remain wary for a long time to come.
Update 3/18/12: After discussing these with a representative of the US Campaign for Burma and a colleague in the Thai-Burma border area, they've shown much skepticism as to how much the NLD will be able to do even if it win seats in Parliament. The promise of drafting a new constitution is doubtful as well; top-down developments are known to suffer from a tedious trick-down effect. Furthermore, ethnic conflicts (i.e. Karen state, etc.) have been occurring despite the ceasefire agreements as my contacts have said. It seems that signing documents only goes so far, enforcement is what directly impacts the people.