Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reforms in Myanmar gaining momentum

The reforms in Myanmar have started to gain momentum and observers say this is a sign of President Thein Sein's vision bearing fruit.

It is also an indication of the president's efficiency since he took office two year ago.

From the acceptance of public protests, release of political prisoners to revisions to a number of existing laws, President Thein Sein, a former general, has introduced sweeping changes in Myanmar since he assumed his new role in 2011,

Political analyst Toe Zaw Latt said: "I think there is a dramatic change and it is not only a change in the person but also a change in the players. In the past, it was a one man regime which is one senior general but now, the power is in three areas. One is the president, parliament and at the same time army. So this is the reality."

Many acknowledge that President Thein Sein has moved the country from being outright authoritarian towards the path of democracy.

"There has been significant changes or steps taken in different areas, political, economic, media. So transformation or reform process is taking its momentum. Many people believe in the president that he is doing a good job. One of the most important achievements he has made in this very short time is that he can convince the Myanmar public, to a large extent, as an ex-general, a large proportion of the public has gained more and more belief in him," said Sithu Koko, a journalist.

Political watcher Win Kyaw said: "The public believe Thein Sein as a person but he hasn't brought about any great achievement yet. However, we see and feel that he is really trying to bring about a change in the current situation."

However, some Myanmar nationals believe more should be done to further liberalise the nation.

To do that, the cabinet ministers, mainly former military men, must rid their old mindset of governing.

"They still hold the mindset that people should be kept quiet. Those ex-generals do not believe in being accountable to the people and they don't understand or feel that they have a need to teach the citizens about the concept of freedom. That's the main area which requires improvement," said Win Kyaw.

There is no denial that the political environment in Myanmar has changed since President Thein Sein assumed office in March 2011. The wheel of change is certainly in motion, prompting even some to wonder if the speed of change may be too fast for some to handle.

But many, including critics of the political landscape here believe that the development now will enable the country to hold a free and fair election come 2015.-Channel News Asia (March 13, 2013)

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