Webinar on “The February 1 Coup Aftermath in Myanmar: Impact, Issues, Implications”

In this webinar, Ms Moe Thuzar and Mr Romain Caillaud discussed the desperate situation in which Myanmar finds itself in the context of the mounting need for mediation and a coordinated international response to Myanmar’s crisis.


Friday, 19 March 2021 – The ISEAS Myanmar Studies Programme convened the first of its webinar series assessing the aftermath of the 1 February 2021 military coup in Myanmar. The webinar attracted the interest of 224 attendees.

Ms Moe Thuzar and Mr Romain Caillaud
Ms Moe Thuzar and Mr Romain Caillaud discussed the desperate situation in which Myanmar finds itself after the recent military coup. Dr Oh Su-Ann moderated the panel. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

ISEAS Myanmar Studies Programme researchers Moe Thuzar and Romain Caillaud provided a broad overview of the developments and the political, economic, and social implications of the coup in the forty-five days since Myanmar’s military seized power, deposing National League for Democracy (NLD) government which had just been returned to a second term in the November 2020 general election. Their observations including the following:

  • The February 1 coup had triggered nationwide protests in Myanmar, including a Civil Disobedience Movement that affected effective functioning of the bureaucracy as well as transport, logistics and services in key economic sectors.
  • Resistance to and protests against the coup continued, in the face of violence and brutality by security forces against the unarmed civilians.
  • There was fading hope for mediation breakthroughs, as the political crisis had further catalysed social and humanitarian crises, and looming economic collapse.
  • The situation seemed to be one where both sides are digging in for a war of attrition, with the heaviest cost borne by the people of Myanmar. Myanmar one month after the coup stood on the brink of sliding back into a dark past of a broken malfunctioning socialist economy, and very limited access to the outside world.
  • Even as the State Administration Council had tried to position itself as business-friendly, there was no chance that a scenario similar to the economic opening during the Thein Sein administration of 2011-15 would emerge again. The backsliding in terms of political stability and rule of law after February 1 was such that progress or even normalization for investors would not be possible mid- to long-term in Myanmar.
  • Existing investors were caught between the diametrically opposed attitudes of the SAC/military and the anti-coup movement, activists and Western governments on what businesses should or should not do in response to the coup. Many businesses were facing the challenge of balancing the SAC’s requirement that businesses remain in the country (and be accepted) against expectations by the anti-coup movement and supporters that businesses in Myanmar act “responsibly”.
  • The unfolding crisis in Myanmar urgently required coordinated intervention by international actors to prevent the crisis from worsening further; the more protracted the crisis, the more difficult resolution would be, and the higher the pain to the economy and population. While there was still some hope for mediation, this must be treated (and implemented) a process; not an instant gratification moment.
  • Rather than treating Myanmar as a backsliding democracy and viewing the military junta as an entity amenable to reason, regional and international actors would need to approach the Myanmar crisis through a conflict resolution lens, particularly in coordinating international assistance for the Myanmar people.