Burma's transformation in recent years from a fiercely-repressed, isolated, military dictatorship into what looks like a democracy has won plaudits around the world. But how much has actually changed? If this was a revolution, it is hard to spot losers-the army remains powerful, and nobody has been charged with war-crimes, though Burma has seen many. The army's cronies remain dominant in business and it retains a political grip through the 2008 constitution. Yet undeniably, Burma is a better place now than before the reforms that started in 2011. Myanmar shows how important the changes have been to ordinary Burmese, who have enjoyed freedoms unthinkable just a few years ago. But it also shows how the economic benefits of reform have yet to become obvious to the mass of ordinary people.
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Simon Long, who has been visiting Burma since 1983, is Banyan, The Economist's Asia columnist. He has also written extensively for The Guardian and many other outlets. He is the author of Taiwan: China's Last Frontier (1990).
Irene Slegt is an investigative journalist who has been writing on Asia since 1986. She is the author of three books on East Timor, and her work has been published in The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, The Telegraph, The Economist, and in newspapers in the Netherlands and Belgium.