There have been numerous criticisms upon the activities of US, EU, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The criticisms are if they are misinformed or doing for their own good. Their actions start to go away from the public.
Firstly, if they are misinformed, it is their embassies that send the wrong information. The misinformation leads to mistakes when taking decisions. Secondly, NGOs running with government seem funding to take surveys.
In April, a report that tried to hide the flaws of the government and applied ‘make-ups’ was published. The report was a far cry from the truth.
International Republican Institute (IRI) conducted the report with the support of the US government. Myanmar Survey Research worked under IRI to contribute to the report. USAID provided funding for the project.
However, criticisms were unleashed when the report was published. Critics said the report was misleading saying it was different from the real situation.
The reported stated Myanmar government has a good image among the public, the people admire President Thein Sein over Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the people want central government and appreciate the anti-corruption measures by the government.
The IRI report delighted Myanmar government but was a mockery among the public.
Just recently, another report similar to the IRI report was published. This time, it was conducted by The Asia Foundation (TAF) and published on December 11.
The Asia Foundation is based in San Francisco and has local offices in 18 Asian countries and Washington. Australian government’s international affairs and trade department provided funding for the report “Myanmar 2014: Civic Knowledge and Values in a Changing Society”.
The survey was conducted in May and June. Just like IRI survey, 3,000 people from all States and Regions were questioned. The irony was the foundation tasked Myanmar Survey Research that worked on the IRI report. The preface of the recent report says (they) thank the Ministry of Information.
The TAF report was more detailed report than IRI and contained 126 pages while IRI report was only 31 pages.
IRI report contained four sectors including Current Development, Role of Political Parties and Role of Media.
TAF report has six sectors: Knowledge of Government, Political Participation and Understanding of Democracy, Identity, Values and Trust, Peace Process, Public Outlook on State of the Union, and Sources of Information.
61 percent of the survey takers were females and 39 percent were males. Only 7 percent of them were graduates while 46 percent had primary education, 20 percent middle school education and 8 percent high school graduates. 11 percent were uneducated.
Most of the survey takers work as farmers and made up 35 percent. 17 percent were self-employed and 15 percent were housewives. 11 percent basic workers and other occupations made up 10 percent.
The participants had limited or no knowledge upon the government. 82 percent of them did not know the names of the ministries.
Only very few of them are interested in politics. 5 percent of the participants were very interested in politics while the number of people who discuss the politics among friends was between 3 to 9 percent.
The percentage of people who were not interested in politics was 62.
When they said Eleven Media Group, it was not clear whether it refers to all four publications (one daily newspaper, one weekly journal and two weekly sport journals). It was not clear and the Bi Weekly Eleven they had listed has not been published for two years. Compared to 7 Days, EMG’s sale tax amount more than tripled. That means we has higher costumer rate.
TAF report suggested many people view the 2015 general election positively. 77 percent of participants believed the upcoming election will improve the future. 10 percent thought it will change nothing.
Moreover, 68 percent believed it will be a fair election. To take a closer view, 72 percent of participants from Regions believed so while 44 percent from States did not.
66 percent stated they can now freely express political ideas while 23 disagreed.
The questions were political themed. Basically, the answers depend largely on the political interest of the participants. To compare the questions to the political interest rate of the participants, the ratio is illogical. For example, only 10 percent interested in politics but 62 percent answered 2015 election will be a positive action.
Additionally, most of the participants did not know the structure of the government, parliament and appointments.
TAF claimed Myanmar is on the right track. 62 percent participants said so while 28 was unsure.
The question was included in IRI survey and 88 percent said yes. 6 percent said no and another 6 percent said unsure in the IRI survey.
The time between these two reports was five months. In the five months, the number of people who thought the country is on the right track reduced significantly.
The question why do they the country is on the right track was answered mostly as building roads and bridges. The answer was the same in both IRI and TAF reports. Second most answer was economic development in IRI while TAF had building schools.
In TAF report, there were people who answered the country is not on the right track and the most common answer was because of sectarian violence. The second most common answer was no economic development, bad governance and corruption.
The survey still remains questionable because one of the facts in the IRI survey said President Thein Sein is preferred to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. However, the fact was not concluded in the finalized statement. Plus, the IRI’s “How would you rate each of the following institution or organization: Very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or unfavorable?” The military received 84 percent very favorable and favorable and standing at the top place in that category.
The Asian Foundation’s survey didn’t include specific details based on people. But it included a question like “How has their interest in politic changed in the last three years?” 70 percent of most people responded their interest in politics has not changed in the last three years.
Under Election Participation title, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD were highlighted as “In 2015, Myanmar is planning to hold highly anticipated general elections across the country. These will be the first elections since the shift from military rule to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, and they are expected to have the participation of all political parties, including the main opposition party, the National League of Democracy (NLD), headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, which boycotted the 2010 elections and only participated in the by-elections of 2012.”
As the report is saying that 70 of percent people said their interest in politics has not changed in the last three years. It is questionable that the by-elections 2012 and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD participation in that Election doesn’t mean any changes of people interest in politics.
The TAF’s survey upon sources of information seems incredibly wrong. The IRI’s seems incorrect as well. The IRI’s survey used the term as Media Usage for sources of information. Under that category, “Where are you most likely to get your news and information?” 35 percent is saying that from Radio, followed by 26 percent from friends and family, 23 percent from TV, 8 percent from newspaper, 2 percent from journal, 2 percent village head, 1 percent each from internet and magazines.
The data in TAF’ report is different from the IRI’s which conducted after five months later the IRI’s. Main Sources of Information in TAF says 37 percent from Television, 35 percent from Friends, Family and Neighbors, 35 percent from Radio, 13 percent from Newspaper, 11 percents from Journals, 3 percent from village leader, 3 percent from Internet/Computer and 14 percent saying Don’t Know. It even specify with details for getting information category. 60 percent rated that MRTV is the most watch TV station, following by Myawaddy with 42 percent, MRTV-4 with 33 percent, Channel 7 with eight percent, DVB with four percent and Myanmar International with three percent. The popular Skynet station was nowhere to be found in the report.
For the “Most Frequently Used Print Media” category, the question is how the survey measured and described the Print Media because the New Light of Myanmar means English edition newspaper or the Myanma Alin Newspaper [Myanmar Language]. It does not matter whether it is English edition or Myanmar edition, their circulation wouldn’t be more than the Kyemon(The Mirror). The Ministry of Information officially declared that the sales of the Keymon are more than the Myanma Alin Newspapers.
It is not also clear that when it says Eleven/Bi-weekly Eleven Journal, which Eleven it is trying to describe because Eleven Media Group has two weekly sports journals, one weekly news journal and one daily newspaper. Does it mean all four published by EMG? It is uncertain because Bi Weekly Eleven has been stopped publishing for almost two years. Comparing with 7days, the EMG is paying three to four more times than 7days publisher in commercial tax. The sales between these two newspapers [the Daily Eleven Newspaper and the 7days daily newspaper] are largely differentiated.
When reviewing these facts, were the survey takers trying to get the result they wanted by giving hints on their questions? It is questionable because they don’t seem to have experience at business they were questioning.
“Most Frequently Used Radio Station” seems wrong as well. The TAF’s report says that 59% radio audience is Myanmar National Radio, 26 percent is Shwe FM, 13 percent is BBC, 12 percent is Mandalay FM, 10 percent is Cherry FM and nine percent is VOA. It is very clear which has more audience when comparing Shwe FM and Mandalay FM.
The TAF’s report is likely to be same as IRI’ report because it would become the government’s favorite. The TAF’s survey was conducted five month later the IRI’s survey. Myanmar Survey Research was the only one that provided ground information for both IRI and TAF while conducting the survey.
International’s perspective upon Myanmar could change due to IRI’s report. It could be anxious that wrong study made by the US’s government and its embassy on Myanmar. Critics are saying that the IRI’s report might especially help create the dirty voting for Election 2015.
Both reports seem to have same intention. The main point of the reports seems to be pre-created result which is pretty much veering from the absolute condition of Myanmar people.
There will be no change although dressing up the current condition in Myanmar with sugarcoated facts. That is for sure not presenting the Myanmar people.