Jan 12, 2013

Myanmar - Burma: President’s New Year message to parliament seems two-faced

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President Thein Sein has sent a New Year message to the current session of the parliament in Nay Pyi Taw, the state-run media said Friday.

The president emphasized that the new political culture has taken place, in company with other political developments in 2012. This new political culture is no other than the practice of seeking a way-out through negotiation in the society. He also said that his government has decided to work with the parliament finding the middle ground generally in undertaking political, economic and social reforms.

The Union Parliament Speaker Khin Aung Myint read out the New Year message sent by the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) Thein Sein to the Union Parliament at the Thursday’s Union Parliament session, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said today.

In his message, President Thein Sein expressed the important role of the parliament in the ongoing reform process. While going through democratic transition, he said the nation has tried to get better relations with the international community which has significantly facilitated the reform process.

Improvement of the peace talks is also a key political success of the country in 2012, he said in the message.  He explained that peace talks were initiated with the 11 main ethnic armed groups and some ceasefire agreements were reached with 10 armed groups. According to his message, the government firmly believes to proceed from ceasefire agreements to political dialogue with the aim of resolving ethnic conflicts in the country permanently.

At one point, Thein Sein clearly mentioned concerning the fierce war against the Kachin rebels. He expressed his view in his message: “I would also like to say that the door is always open for the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)/the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to discuss ceasefire terms and to have meaningful political dialogue with the government. While the Government is striving to achieve peace in the country with our utmost efforts, the Tatmadaw (Army) has not only made sacrifices in blood and sweat for the security of the State but also done everything they possibly can to make positive contributions to the peace process.”

He also said that the various peace committees have tried to do their best to set up genuine trust between the government and ethnic armed groups. Additionally, he said that in order to achieve durable peace and to design and implement the plans for rehabilitation and development works after the achievement of peace, the government has recently established the Myanmar Peace Center.

Moreover, he gave details about the government’s economic reforms such as the introduction of a floating exchange rate, financial sector reforms, the creation of an investor friendly business environment, the resuscitation of the tourism sector and the creation of safeguards to ensure that business practices do not damage the environment.

Despite the consequences of political, economic and social reforms, the country has learned from the facts and the troubles associated with the Letpadaung Taung project, land rights, riots in Rakhine State and the breakdown of peace in Kachin state, he said.

He also promised his government has to seek advice from the parliament regularly to carry out political, economic and social reforms. The government will try to function more effectively and efficiently in the future by means of the legislative experience, he guaranteed via his message.

President Thein Sein expressed his strong will to improve the state of the rule of law and eradicate corruption in the country. He and the members of parliament will also carry on difficult task to create good governance and clean government, he added in his message.

However, people may consider the president’s message as rhetorical expression since it is far away from the real-life situation. While President Then Sein is sending his message to the Union Parliament, the fierce offensive against the KIO has been constantly going on amid air-strikes.

On Thursday, the eleven-member alliance group, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) has concluded its four-day meeting, according to Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.). General Secretary of the alliance organization, Nai Hongsa reiterated Friday morning that there would be nothing to talk about at the next round of peace talks with government point man U Aung Min, as long as the offensive against Laiza, the headquarters of its leading member Kachin Independence Organization (KIO/KIA) continues.

Besides, a group of ethnic Kachins protested outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok Friday against government bombardments in country’s northern Kachin state, a day after a group of Kachin people attempted a demonstration in China, according to The Nation’s news in Thailand.

It is intolerable since the government has used not only heavy artillery but also enforced gunship-helicopters and jet-fighters in this military operation against the ethnic Kachin rebels. The news concerning government airstrikes is hitting the headlines through the news media.

During today’s parliamentary session, MP Thein Zaw submitted a proposal to resume the peace talks between the KIO and the government by using the information technology via the Internet with public transparency which could help lessen people’s misery.

Many analysts believe the ongoing war in Kachin territories is quite a hostile offensive rather than a defensive battle as the government says. If this is the case then people would be able to label the president’s third message this January as a deliberate falsification.

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