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Liberalism and Democracy in Myanmar

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It is with great pleasure that we, at the Centre of Governance and Human Rights, invite you to a talk on Liberalism and Democracy in Myanmar given by Ian Holliday, Vice-President at the University of Hong Kong. All are welcome to attend this talk (Room 119, ARB ) and to join for coffee and tea after the talk.

Abstract: In Myanmar, historic elections in 2015 and the installation of a National League for Democracy government effectively led by Aung San Suu Kyi in 2016 contrast with ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in 2017. One critical question that now confronts the 50 million people of this Southeast Asian nation is whether the push for greater democracy is strong enough to prevail over a powerful military machine and spreading undercurrents of intolerance. What are the prospects for liberal democracy? The talk addresses this question by examining historical conditions, constitutionalism, democracy, major political actors, ethnic conflict, and transitional justice. It draws on a rich array of evidence focused on 88 in-depth interviews and three waves of surveys and survey experiments conducted in 2014-18. It presents the concept of limited liberalism, reflecting a blend of liberal and illiberal attitudes, and concludes by casting doubt on the prospects for liberal democracy in Myanmar.

Bio: Ian Holliday is Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) at the University of Hong Kong. Previously he was Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at City University of Hong Kong. He was educated at New College, Oxford and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. His recent books are Liberalism and Democracy in Myanmar (Oxford University Press, 2018), co-authored with Roman David, Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Myanmar (Routledge, 2018), co-edited with Adam Simpson and Nicholas Farrelly, and Burma Redux: Global Justice and the Quest for Political Reform in Myanmar (Columbia University Press, 2011). His collection of contemporary Myanmar paintings can be viewed at

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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