The significance of opinion leaders and influentials seeing how life is in other countries is under-appreciated.
Around 2000, because of my expertise, I started representing Myanmar at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on technological matters. As I traveled, I saw that neighboring countries were surpassing us. Once, in Cambodia, when I spotted a taxi driver with a cell phone, I thought, “A taxi driver isn’t supposed to have that!” I was also one of the first people in Myanmar to get the internet, and I realized that with just a few clicks, a kid from here could have the same access as one in Silicon Valley. In 2012 I joined the president’s advisory council. He had just begun accepting reforms, so in one meeting I nervously suggested: “Mr. President, we should consider telecom reform, because that could have a high impact on society.” I was shocked when he appointed me deputy communications minister.
The story was told in greater detail when U Thaung Tin spoke at CPRsouth 2017.