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Southeast Asia

Military coup scuppers Myanmar’s future

Myanmar is once again an investment pariah as the country’s businesses and financial sector reel from the impact of the coup.

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Senior bankers go missing in Myanmar, bank branches shut down, and customers queue for hours at ATMs to withdraw their savings. The over-riding fear is, will bank runs or even nationalization follow next in this fragile economy?

Myanmar’s democratic awakening after decades of military rule had made it one of southeast Asia’s most exciting frontier markets. No more. The military ousted a democratically elected government and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1; they allege there was voter fraud in the November election which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide. The electoral commission says there was no evidence of such fraud.

Pro-democracy supporters have staged a massive civil disobedience campaign in protest at the military coup, paralysing the economy and banking system. Hundreds of people have been arrested, and more than 500 people have been killed by soldiers – a number that was steadily rising as Asiamoney went to press.

In late March, the World Bank slashed its forecast for Myanmar’s economy to a 10% contraction in 2021, a sharp drop from the 5.9%