I went back to Burma with my friend Pone Pone and World Education, an NGO that assists people in border regions with their educational needs. The temple/children's home we went to had just finished a celebration and one of the little floats had the insignia of one of the rebel groups which is disliked in the area due to some atrocities they have committed. It turns out they are big supporters of the temple. Of course, the people do not like the government because of the atrocities that they commit. he Head Monk (who we met with) is well regarded in the community so the government listens to him.
The fact that he is respected by everyone means that he is probably more powerful than any politician in the area.