It is hard to describe Yangon, especially with the majority of the men still going about their daily routines in longyi (or sarong), a lady remarked, with no malice at all. The sarongs look the same, or almost the same, to the outsider but some sarongs are made of silk and their wearers are chauffeur-driven in Lincolns and Lexus (which shocked some of us who thought Myanmar was the quintessential Socialist country) while the huge majority slog on for a measly few thousand kyats a day that the average citizen earns. This city of six million bustles with energy all day and all night. For us from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Yangon may seem or feel 30 years behind, but this city - and this country - are in a hurry to catch up. And like Ambassador to Malaysia said yesterday ahead of PM Najib Razak's visit, time and "Myanmar wait for no men".
We met groups of Malaysian businessmen who flew in to Yangon en route Naypyitaw four hours away by road, where the red carpet was rolled out for Najib. At a dinner with the sarong-wearing middle-aged businessmen at Park Royal last night, the conversations were on business opportunities instead of politics, even though the by-elections that would involve Aung San Suu Kyi are just days away. The Myanmar Times, the only English-language daily, highlights discrepancies in the election roll and of dead people allegedly remaining as voters (sound familiar?) but ask around and about everyone will tell you Suu Kyi will win in her polls hands down. The local businessmen know that Suu Kyi's victory will be good because it will bring in the foreign money (investments) ....
(Reuters) - Western countries desperately want Myanmar's by-elections on Sunday to go smoothly - and give opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi a seat in parliament - so they can start to lift sanctions and let their companies invest in the once-isolated state .. [West waits on Myanmar vote to start sanctions scale-back]
They also know that what this really means is that these Western countries can't wait to come back into Myanmar and partake in the country's rich resources, especially its oil. "Burmese aren't stupid," a local businessman said to me.