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Updated: April 4, 2012 02:40 IST

Top Myanmar official welcomes election results

Prashant Jha
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Myanmar's President Thein Sein in Phnom Penh ahead of the 20th ASEAN Summit on Monday. Hailing the win of Aung San Suu Kyi-led NLD in by-polls in the country, a key aide of Mr. Sein has welcomed “the emergence of a strong opposition” as good for democracy.
AP Myanmar's President Thein Sein in Phnom Penh ahead of the 20th ASEAN Summit on Monday. Hailing the win of Aung San Suu Kyi-led NLD in by-polls in the country, a key aide of Mr. Sein has welcomed “the emergence of a strong opposition” as good for democracy.

Declares reforms ‘irreversible’; asks for lifting of sanctions  

On a day when the Myanmar president Thein Sein termed Sunday’s by-elections “successful”, his key aide said the results reflected the people’s desire for “change”, and welcomed the emergence of a strong opposition as good for democracy. In one of the first reactions by a high-ranking official after the polls, the President’s chief political advisor, Ko Ko Hlaing, told The Hindu on Tuesday that the reforms process was “irreversible” and appealed to the international community to lift sanctions.

Explaining the landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, Mr. Hlaing said, “For many years, people have seen old faces. They wanted change, to taste a new cuisine. Politics, especially elections, is based on emotions of the people. And the emotional mood was for NLD.” He added that Ms. Suu Kyi’s personality was a major factor in the victory. “She is not just a politician. She is a celebrity and has star power, which helped the party’s candidates.”

Reforms

The overwhelming NLD victory — official count now says they have won 40 of the 45 seats — has led to speculation that it could embolden the military “hardliners” sceptical of the democratic reforms. Yangon political circles are abuzz with rumours that they could cite it as proof of waning political control and stall change. While conceding that there were internal differences, Mr. Hlaing sought to allay any such apprehensions.

He said, “It is quite usual to have differences about pace and speed of reforms. That is why it requires clever management. Sometimes, reforms have to be rapid. Sometimes, a more cautious approach is needed. It has to be negotiated between the government and legislature, within the government.”

But Mr. Hlaing emphasised that the results would help reforms and make the democracy more mature. “In any election, there will be winners and losers. One has to accept the results. This is a wake up call for parties which have lost. They should review the failure, take lessons, and get ready for the 2015 elections.” He added that a democracy required a ‘strong opposition’, and the by-poll results would now lead to ‘more open and active’ discussions in parliament where NLD could raise any issue.

Asked if a Constitutional amendment removing the reserved seats for the military in parliament — a key NLD plank — was possible, Mr. Hlaing said military was in parliament to play a “balancing role, and for national interest and national security”. In a measured tone, he added, “If the opposition can convince them that amendment is in national interest, they will support it. In the past year and a half, the military representatives have often voted with the opposition on issues.”

The President’s confidante added that the elections had helped fulfil the aim of having an “inclusive parliament” with all parties. The next item on the reform agenda was “peace and reconciliation with the ethnic groups”. Several ethnic groups are represented in parliament, but there are others — especially in the northern Kachin State – who are waging an armed movement for federalism and right to self determination. The government has insisted on a ceasefire before political discussions, while the Kachin Independence Organisation has demanded political settlement before a ceasefire.

‘Need carrot, not stick’

Declaring that the reforms were “irreversible”, the senior official appealed to the outside world for “assistance and encouragement” to help Myanmar meet challenges. In a categorical call to remove sanctions, Mr. Hlaing said, “Sanctions are a great barrier for reforms. The international community should know we have changed our game. It is an elected government committed to reform. We don’t need any pressure from outside. The need is not for sticks and whips, but for carrots.”

Revealing that the European Union, Australia and Canada had shown eagerness to relax restrictions, Mr. Hlaing said, “I know U.S. sanctions cannot be lifted overnight since the sanction regime is complex and needs to go through Congress. But we hope for some relaxations.” He added that Myanmar needed “capacity building, technical assistance, capital, technology, skills, and investment”.

He also identified areas of mutual co-operation with India which is “an old and close friend”.

“India can use our deep sea ports to export to Thailand, China and other Southeast Asian countries. It can use our infrastructure to deliver supplies and logistics to its own Northeast. India can help us with technology, skills, education system and legal regime where we have a lot in common. Myanmar needs foreign investment, and people here have a long tradition of using Indian goods,” he said.

Urging Indian investors to explore business opportunities in Myanmar, he said, “If you hesitate now, it may be too late.”

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Atlast,the voice of a common man is proved very loud and clear. Aung San Suu Kyi has mesmerized by her unmatchable courage. The fragrance of jasmine flowers has not only spread over in Myanmar but also in whole world.

from:  Pranav Tripathi
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 19:37 IST

Ultimately it is the victory of the masses and that myanmar is to move with the common man and it is a really good news for India as this is ourneighbour too. When our neighbour is in good relations with us we alsowill be happy in all aspects.

from:  DrAsok Sanker
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 12:42 IST

The regime that invariably hides military power under a civilian façade must take concerted efforts to alter its stance on peoples’ liberation and democracy. It cannot expect the world to close eyes on the plight of people and still come forward to provide trade, investment, technology and what not. Being a neighbor India too will enjoy certain benefits while providing assistance to Myanmar. But to be eligible for any Indian benefaction Myanmar regime must necessarily institute a down- to- earth democracy.

There will be no need for any carrots too if President President Thein Sein’s government show a pliable mind to accept genuine demands of peace-loving people and also listen to good counsels from all quarters for upholding democracy.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri.Chennai
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 22:26 IST
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