Rediscovering the Golden Beauty of Myanmar
November 15, 2012
The Shwedagon Pagoda is believed to be the world’s oldest pagoda and the holiest Buddhist shrine in Myanmar. Coated with gold and decorated with more than 4,500 diamonds, the temple is believed to be 2,500 years old, but has been rebuilt many times due to earthquakes. It is said that Myanmar’s people and its monarchs have donated gold to maintain it. Queen Shinsawbu started this custom in the 15th century when she gave her weight in the precious metal.
Now Americans can see this striking structure firsthand, as travel and investment bans to Myanmar have recently been lifted. The country located between India and China has been isolated for nearly a half of a century after a dictatorial military government took control.
The country has also been called “probably the best investment opportunity in the world right now,” by legendary international investor Jim Rogers. In an interview with The Myanmar Times, he compared the country formerly known as Burma to China in the 1970s, when it started opening up to the world. “In 1962, Burma was the richest country in Asia. Then they closed and [now] it is the poorest.”
The road to democracy has been under construction for a long time. In 1988, after General Saw Maung took over and established a new ruling junta, opposition party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, created the National League for Democracy (NLD) to promote nonviolence and civil obedience. Shortly thereafter, she was placed under house arrest on and off for a total of 15 years.
The former political prisoner has become a “global symbol of progress,” according to the United Nations. Suu Kyi is the daughter of Burma’s independence hero, Aung San, who was assassinated when she was a toddler. She attended Oxford University, is multilingual, well-traveled and, as an op-ed in The New York Times described her, “seems born to lead, and listening to her makes you a little embarrassed for the level of our own current political discourse.”
For her valiant leadership, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, both of which she has only recently been able to accept in person because of her imprisonment.
In a historic moment this April, the junta ceded power and allowed Aung San Suu Kyi to run for parliament. Suu Kyi’s party was victorious, winning 43 parliamentary seats. Although the NLD is still a minority, this was a key step in the country’s shift toward democracy and freedom.
Now, with the lifting of the travel ban, photographers, tourists and investors are rediscovering the golden beauty of the country. In the most recent Shareholder Report, we feature the Shwedagon Pagoda on the cover to pique the curiosity of investors.
We believe our focus on covering the fascinating aspects of countries, global resources and precious metals has made the magazine one of the best educational resources in the mutual fund industry. For the sixth year in a row, the Shareholder Report was recognized by the Mutual Fund Education Alliance for outstanding investor communications.
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