In 1990, German rock band Scorpions recorded a song, “Wind of Change,” which became an instant hit worldwide. It sold more than 14 million copies when it was released the following year.

It was the most popular song at a time when the political landscape was changing in Eastern Europe and in what was then known as the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR), now the Russian Federation.

A generation later, the powerful ballad remains popular in protest movements but probably not in most Southeast Asian states, where elections will be held.

More than 2.5 million Singaporeans are expected to re-elect on Friday, July 10, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his People’s Action Party, which has been in power since 1965 when it broke away from Malaysia and became a free state.

Lee, the son of Singapore’s independent first leader, will be on his fifth and probably last term in office since 2004. Lee’s PAP holds a clear majority in the 110-seat parliament.

Change is not expected to happen in Southeast Asia’s most prosperous and stable economy despite reports the leader’s younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, has joined the opposition party.

In neighboring Malaysia, the expected change two years ago when the opposition coalition won in general elections was cut short after Kuala Lumpur was plunged into a political crisis that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad early this year.

There will be no general elections in Malaysia until 2023 but the Barisan Nasional, a coalition which has dominated the country’s politics since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, could claw back to power, dashing the hopes of Anwar Ibrahim’s rise to the top.

What the world really awaits is the real change in Myanmar when it holds its third general elections in six decades in November.

The democratic transition in Myanmar has been excruciatingly slow even after the civilian-led opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, assumed power after a landslide election victory in 2015.

The Tatmadaw, or the country’s military, has considerable influence in politics as it controls a guaranteed 25 percent of the seats in both houses of parliament.

The NLD, which faced significant risks in carrying out reforms, has been forced to work closely with the military which had ruled the country for about five decades after it won its independence from the British in 1948.

Suu Kyi and the NLD have failed to live up to expectations, as her government’s relations with ethnic groups have worsened over the years, drowning some reforms it had started.

Internationally, the Rohingya crisis has strained Suu Kyi’s relations with the West, particularly with the United States and Western Europe, tarnishing her image among human rights advocates.

The same challenges that Myanmar faced before Suu Kyi and the NLD took power in 2015 have remained, providing little excitement in the November’s polls.

The military could regain power as the disappointment on Suu Kyi’s government continued to grow and support from some ethnic groups have been waning.

Suu Kyi and the NLD are still expected to dominate the polls but will not probably win as big as in November 2015 due to serious challenges the government faces, worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The elections in November will probably bring little or no change at all in Myanmar. The same ethnic conflicts and competing influence between the ruling party NLD and the military will continue to challenge the fragile democracy in the country.

Suu Kyi’s strained relations with the West could push her government closer to China but a much bigger problem could emerge as there would be uncertainty after Suu Kyi is gone.

In the interest of regional security and stability, Southeast Asian countries must help Myanmar transition to democracy at its own pace.

In 2002, the late senator and former foreign affairs secretary Blas Ople made a passionate appeal at an Asean ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh to the ruling military junta in Myanmar to free Suu Kyi, pushing the generals to undertake democratic reforms and respect human rights.

It was only eight years later when the military junta realized it had to open up a bit and gave a small opening that led to Suu Kyi’s rise to power in 2015.

The world, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), should leave Myanmar to resolve its own internal problems, respecting the regional bloc’s principle of non-interference.

The world should not rush change in Myanmar, taking into consideration the deeply divided ethnic groups and religions that could plunge the country further into deadly conflicts and fragmentation.

For instance, Asean should play a more active and direct role in resolving the problem with the Rohingyas by averting a bigger humanitarian crisis, which could threaten regional security.

The Philippine defense chief, retired general Delfin Lorenzana, has called on defense and military leaders in Myanmar for more kindness and compassion in dealing with the minority Muslims.

He said the Philippine leader had expressed his willingness to take some of the displaced Rohingyas and asked other Muslim states in the region, like Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, to help provide sanctuary and ease the burden in Bangladesh, where about 800,000 refugees had fled since 2018 when Myanmar began its crackdown.

Asean could use its moral persuasion on Myanmar to change the way it treats the minority. When Myanmar learns how to respect and tolerate ethnic minorities and non-Buddhists, that’s the time real dramatic changes will happen.

When that time comes, probably the dominant Bamar people will also learn to hum the Scorpions 1990 hit song.