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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2677

Burma President broadcasts a hypothetical radio message

By - Zin Linn

President Thein Sein of Myanmar (Burma) has broadcast a radio message from 1 to 3 March. Nay Pyi Taw Radio Myanmar, Mandalay FM Pyinsawady FM, Shwe FM, Cherry FM, Padamya FM, FM Bagan and Thazin broadcast the message at 7 am, 11 am, 6 pm and 8 pm respectively. Padauk Myay Radio will air the speech at 5.30 am, 7 am, 6 pm and 8 pm respectively, the state-run media said on Friday.

He was on the air to inform public of his government’s policies and undertakings as bringing up to date of country’s developments. Firstly, he recalled significances of the 66th Anniversary Union Day dinner on 12 February. Thein Sein strangely revealed about the historic day— 12 February, 1947. It was marked as the country’s union day as national leader General Aung San and ethnic leaders signed Panglong agreement amidst various challenges building a Federal Democratic Union on the world stage.

He said that this year’s Union Day is noteworthy because potentials for national reconciliation are seen in the current peace process. Ethnic leaders, parties and organizations came face to face at the Union Day dinner. The dinner strengthened mutual trust among leaders in peace talks, Thein Sein said.

President Thein Sein also said, “My meeting with leaders of ethnic armed groups on internal peace making process on 13 February coincided with the birthday of General Aung San. I would like to convey a message to you that we have made a firm step towards the national reconciliation which would be the best possible birthday present to our national leader by the people of Myanmar.”

He said that he had invited KIO/KIA leaders to attend Union Day dinner. Yet, they could not attend it due to remaining various difficulties and reasons. Except, KIO and Union government have had extra optimism during Shweli peace talks held on 4 February, President said. He said that he believed a truce would be reached and a sustainable peace process could be created. He also said that he cared for KIO’s stance on genuine peace, equality and self-determination of national races stated on the press release about Shweli peace talks.

While working for reconciliation, President said, there will be free spaces not only for participation of individual organizations but also for citizens in the peace process. On 7 February, he said, there was a progress forming a scrutiny committee of remaining prisoners. It was composed of the representatives from the government, the civil societies and political parties to enable the rest political prisoners to take part in future national politics, Thein Sein said.

According to the President, the committee will work transparently and will manage family reunion of the prisoners of conscience jailed by the then regime, to help them enjoy their freedom like any other citizens and participate in future reforms.

He also mentioned that plans are in progress to sale low-priced cell phone devices in coming April which can help extend current communication infrastructures. Besides, he also informed struggles to create more job opportunities for youths.

Reform progress depends on local strength and government is working hard to shape a modern country on the basis of the globalization, the President aired through radio waves. The goal of his European trip is to fetch necessary assistances for the country’s reform processes, he highlighted.

In conclusion, he urged people to be at one with fast and forceful reforms. Finally, he called every citizen for forgiveness, mutual understandings, sympathy and cooperation.

President Thein Sein has pledged to bring about ‘transparency’ and ‘good governance’ in the military-monopolized rundown country, since taking office in March 2011. But questions hang around unbeatably whether Thein Sein knows how to control the scandalously inscrutable armed forces, which is known grabbing major financial interests in Burma’s money-spinning natural resource industries.

It is also illogical that the unlimited ‘Special Funds’ open to the commander-in-chief of the military is completely unbalanced. The worst is that the ruling says the military commander-in-chief will not be subject to questioning, explanation or auditing by any individual or organization concerning the use of ‘Special Funds’.

According to Democratic Voice of Burma, the country’s tarnished armed forces will maintain to seize the largest portion of next year’s national budget, despite criticisms from a number of MPs over the lack of transparency in the ministry’s expenditures and policies.

The defense ministry has been allocated 20.86 percent – or over one fifth – of the fiscal year 2013-2014, which is currently being debated in parliament. It represents an incremental decrease from the previous year, when it received around one quarter of the national budget.

Even though the deputy defense minister, Maj-Gen Kyaw Nyunt promised to consider the issue raised in parliament corresponding to the constitution. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi with like-mined MPs called for amendments to the 2013-2014 National Planning Bill, insisting that the budget must “reflect the people’s desire”.

But, it is still out of question to amend the military primary constitution. For instance, Burma’s Union Parliament approved the government’s US $1.15 billion military budget on Friday with an overwhelming majority. In a joint vote by the Upper House and Lower House in Naypyidaw, 445 parliamentarians voted for the proposed military budget, 60 voted for a reduction of the budget and 7 MPs abstained, according to The Irrawaddy.

Then, there are questions for President Thein Sein. If President preferred creating peace and national reconciliation, why did his armed forces need over-spending for military hardware? If there is poverty alleviation in the president’s reform agenda, why did his government distribute smallest share of budget for health and education?

Some analysts deem armed conflicts in Burma probably will not settle down easily since more ethnic armed groups refuse to accept the 2008 new constitution which says Burma Army is the only military institution in the country.

The armed ethnic groups also believe the existing seemingly civilian government which loyal to the 2008 constitution will not let their basic rights or self-determination in accordance with the 1947 Panglong Agreement.

Therefore, if President Thein Sein truthfully wants to change the conflict-ridden country into a peace and prosperous nation, he needs guts to follow the Panglong Agreement path rather than to be stuck on the 2008 constitution.

- Asian Tribune -

President Thein Sein of Myanmar
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