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Myo Yan Naung Thein’s Perspective on Current Situation of Burma (Myanmar)

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Aung San Suu Kyi

December 2013
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A biography of Aung San Suu Kyi

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UNSC Report No. 1- 4 Oct 2007
Update Report 19 September 2007_Myanmar (UNSC Report)
Update Report 22 Nov 2006_Myanmar
UN Report- Myanmar Opium Survey - Oct 2004
UNSC Report No. 1 - 10 September 2008
UNSC Report No. 4- 14 May 2008
Security Council-Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar
Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar
Thayer The Myammar/Burma Issue: After Sanctions
■ SUPPLY AND COMMAND
■ Gas & Oil Connections - Myanmar lost to China- India's encirclement complete
AI Report June 2008
AI Report November 2007 AI Report December 2007
AI Report June 2005
AI Report on Myanmar briefing after Nargis
EIU Country Report :March 2009
EIU Annual Report : 2007
EU Conclusion on Myanmar - Oct 2007
Amnesty International- Sep 2007
■ A History of the Burma Socialist Party by Kyaw Zaw Win

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■ Recognition of Burma's Proliferation
■ Plagiarism in the Burma Nuclear SCOOP
■ Nuclear Proliferation and Burma the Hidden Connection
■ Burma's Secret Agreement With North Korea
■ BURMA-A-Threat-to-International-Security-and-Peace
■ Additional-Burmese-Missile-Sites-Identified
■ WMD Nexus Between North Korea and Burma
■ Where's the State Dept Nuclear Report on Burma
■ BURMA DIGEST Interview on Burma Nuclear
■ Analysis of Burma's Nuclear Program 1
■ Analysis of Burma's Nuclear Program 2
■ Russia Burma Nuclear Intelligence Report-1
■ Russia Burma Nuclear Intelligence Report-2
■ Arm-Including Nuke Dealing With N-Korea
■ Burma's China Connection and the India Ocean Region By Andrew Selth
■ NEITHER WAR NOR PEACE The Future of cease-fire Agreements in Burma
■ A Historical Overview of Political Transition in Myanmar Since 1988
■ Sino-Myanmar Economic Relations Since 1988
■ The Road to Naypyidaw- Making Sense of the Myanmar Government's Decision to Move its Capital
■ Southern Thai Politics - A Preliminary Overview

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“The people who hold authoritarian power don’t want to relinquish it. But, if the military are seen to stand back from mainstream politics it is not because of their willingness to build a democratic country, but more because they recognize the need to allow more public participation in politics, and to have arelationship with the international community,”

Myo Yan Naung Thein,
founder of the Bayda Institute.

MYNT+DASSK

Following the Real Roadmap

After three years of democratic reform, Myanmar has made progress. But what road is the country on?

http://www.mizzima.com/opinion/features/item/10484-following-the-real-roadmap

mzine-issue-44-vol-3Twenty-three years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Sakharov Prize. It was 1990 and Suu Kyi was enduring the solitude of house arrest in Yangon, unable to leave the grounds of her house, let alone travel, the BBC World Service Radio her only ear to the outside world. Back then, the international community recognized her as not only as the winner of the 1990 elections – which her party won in a landslide but the military refused to accept – but also as a attractive figurehead for democracy in a country weighed down by oppressive military rule.

Two decades on, Suu Kyi stepped forward to rousing applause at the european Parliament in Strasbourg, France on October 22 to finally accept the freedom and human rights prize named after the late Russian nuclear physicist and dissident, Andrei Sakharov, a man instrumental in the monumental changes that saw the Soviet Union discard communism under the reform-minded leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev and his roadmap of “perestroika” or restructuring.

Since her release from house arrest in 2010, at the time of the Myanmar’s elections, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has travelled the world, effectively acting as a weather vane that shows real change is underway in Myanmar. her presence in Strasbourg was one more reminder that her dream of a “Free Burma,” as she so often puts it, is close at hand.

“We have made progress since 1990, but we have not made sufficient progress,” Suu Kyi told the audience. “Our people are just beginning to learn that freedom of thought is possible, but we want to make sure that the right to think freely and to live in accordance with a conscience has to be preserved.”

She stressed that this right is not guaranteed. “We still have to work very hard before the basic law of the land, which is the constitution, will guarantee us the right to live in accordance with our conscience. That is why we insist that the present constitution must be changed to be a truly democratic one.”

Blinded by the light

Suu Kyi received a standing ovation at the Strasbourg award ceremony. The daughter of Myanmar’s late independence hero Aung San is an icon and is welcomed around the world with open arms by infatuated audiences, often bedazzled by the eloquence and the message.

Judging by the developments that have taken place over the last three years since the November 7, 2010 elections, and Suu Kyi’s jetsetting mobility, Myanmar has indeed changed and a far greater sense of freedom prevails than the dark days when she, her party members and all political activists were harassed, incarcerated, denied leadership and cut off from the world.

As Suu Kyi says, work has still to be done. Under the leadership of President Thein Sein, a former military general, the government is following the transition plan aimed at opening up the country, politically and economically, and offering the people more involvement in governing their own affairs.

But as the patient and determined lady waits, she recognizes that all is not as it appears on the surface in the Golden Land.

The ‘disciplined’ path to democracy

Lost in all the buzz about reform is the story of origin. It is important to look back a decade to the genesis of the Myanmar military generals’ “change of heart” that led to what can be described as their version of “perestroika.”

In 2003, then Prime Minister Khin Nyunt announced that Myanmar was about to embark on a Roadmap to Democracy that provided a seven-step process for a transition to democracy. Literally translated as the “Roadmap to DisciplineFlourish Democracy,” the name offers a hint at what the General Khin Nyunt and the other generals under the then State Peace and Development Council saw was the way to try to shake off the image of a pariah state and engage more fully with the world.

“The people who hold authoritarian power don’t want to relinquish it. But, if the military are seen to stand back from mainstream politics it is not because of their willingness to build a democratic country, but more because they recognize the need to allow more public participation in politics, and to have arelationship with the international community,”

Myo Yan Naung Thein,
founder of the Bayda Institute.

Myanmar’s “perestroika” unfolded slowly during the last decade, not without its troubles as seen in the military crackdown on the monks’ protests in 2007 known as the “Saffron Revolution” demonstrations and the regime’s laggardly response to the cries for help from hundreds of thousands who suffered under the onslaught of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

Judging by the generals’ roadmap, Myanmar is now at the seventh and final stage of its restructuring. Under the plan, the military-run elections in 2010 led to the generals’ party taking power under the leadership of President Thein Sein. The transition has seen Suu Kyi freed from house arrest and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) secure a majority in parliament, in which 25 percent of the seats are reserved for appointed members of the military. electoral law reforms resulted in Suu Kyi and her NLD party winning a landslide in by-elections in April 2012, allowing her and the other winning candidates to take seats in parliament.

Whether this is “flourishing democracy” as headlined in the roadmap is debatable. Specialists on Myanmar, such as journalist and author Bertil Lintner, claim the roadmap was less an effort to push for real democracy and more a chance to give their military dictatorship a democratic face. It tied in with growing concerns among the generals that Myanmar was falling under the shadow of China and that more balance was needed with foreign relations and investment. And it conveniently let the past crimes of the generals and their foot soldiers be ignored.

Thein Sein is no Gorbachev

In the grand scheme of things, President Thein Sein proved little like Gorbachev as this roadmap was rolled out. Rather than being the architect of Myanmar’s own “perestroika” and “glasnost,” he has proved more the facilitator for a phalanx of generals and their business cronies operating to a large extent behind the scenes, say political commentators.

Myo Yan Naung Thein, founder of the Bayda Institute, that helps the public set up democratic institutions, told the Mizzima Business Weekly that the two main challenges for Myanmar are the continued involvement of the military regime in mainstream politics, and the problem of how to solve the ethnic issues. An end to the fighting in Kachin State remains elusive and clashes occasionally break out in the Shan and Kayin states.

“The people who hold authoritarian power don’t want to relinquish it. But, if the military are seen to stand back from mainstream politics it is not because of their willingness to build a democratic country, but more because they recognize the need to allow more public participation in politics, and to have a relationship with the international community.”

It may be wrong to expect rapid change in a country used to running in the slow lane.

Dr. Aye Maung, chairman of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), told Mizzima Business Weekly that the legislative, administrative and judicial systems emerged in the wake of the 2010 elections, and that these three main pillars have yet to work effectively.

“The general public has more or less obtained freedom of expression and speech, and yet the government is trying to control political activists with improper laws,” he said. One foreign NGO claims 232 activists face trial or jail, many under new laws bought in under Thein Sein’s government.

One concern of the generals conerns survival. Naypyitaw, it would appear, is trying to keep up with the times in an era when dictatorships look increasingly in danger of being dumped in the rubbish bin of history.

Myo Yan Naung Thein says that on a global level, authoritarian regimes are gradually fading away.

“Myanmar’s military regime understands economic and political conditions deteriorated under their rule during the last 20 years, and knows it is hard to maintain control for a long time, so that is why they have stepped back from mainstream politics,” he said.

Who is pulling the strings?

Thein Sein appears to have done a passable job of providing a moderate face for the government, and at least superficially, a parliament going through the motions has given the impression that this is a government on a par with others in Southeast Asia.

But where does progress with the military-drafted roadmap stand today, a decade after it was announced, and does the real power really lie behind the throne?

Political commentators appear unwilling or unable to clearly say who if any of the generals or other influential figures are pulling the strings, but naturally the former military regime leader, Senior General Than Shwe, attracts scrutiny. Myo Yan Naung Thein told Mizzima Business Weekly that the former leader may not be standing idly by. “Than Shwe could be the main opponent of the movement to change the country in this democratic transition. … he may be making an effort to influence the current political landscape as far as he can. But that would depend on his particular level of influence with current former generals-turned government officials and parliamentary candidates.”

Myo Yan Naung Thein indicates that at least in the short term, the military, not the opposition NLD, is calling the shots. “Most people have criticized the NLD’s leadership of the democratic forces claiming that it does it does not have a strategic approach to building a democratic country. Therefore, democratic groups have to follow the track provided by the military in terms of national reconciliation, peace agreements [with ethnic groups] and amending the constitution.”

So the military leads mainstream politics in the short-term, but overall the country’s democratic transition is progressing, he said.

The recent bombing incidents in Yangon, Mandalay and elsewhere might put the opposition on the back foot and cause people to look to the military for protection. “The bomb blasts could highlight the need for the military to provide security, and damage Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity,” he said.

Myo Yan Naung Thein suggests time is needed for the democratic transition. “If Aung San Suu Kyi remains in good health and lives long, democratic groups could make headway in combating the influence of the military regime. The domestic political culture depends totally on a high-profile person. It’s so risky.”

It’s the Constitution, stupid

Such a claim leads to the conclusion that much depends on Myanmar’s globetrotting and award-winning democracy icon. her party relies on her and the people rely on her to come up with answers. And it is here that they run into the tricky question that Suu Kyi is at pains to emphasize.

A crucial factor is the 2008 Constitution and whether Suu Kyi’s call to amend or rewrite it will come to fruition. Democracy activists take issue with many provisions in this constitution, not least the strong position it puts the military in terms of parliamentary votes and in times of perceived crisis. But there is one provision of particular concern to one high-profile figure. Persons who are married to foreign nationals or have children who are foreign nationals are blocked from the presidency. This provision, say critics, was specifically included in the 2008 Constitution to block Suu Kyi from the presidency.

Dr. Aye Maung said the government and parliament recognize that one of the main hurdles to forging peace agreements with ethnic insurgents depends on whether the 2008 Constitution will be changed. “As we already know, they’re now preparing to review the constitution to amend possible points. At the same time, the military has voiced support to amend the constitution.”

Despite the rhetoric, there is a reluctance on the part of the government to entertain a rewrite of constitution, with the suspicion – not helped by Thein Sein’s evasive replies in interviews – that the government is in effect maintaining its block on Suu Kyi ascending to the presidency, should her party compete in and win the 2015 elections.

Fulfilling an aging dream

For now, Aung San Suu Kyi is able to tour the world and accept prizes and adulation. The delayed receipt of the Sakharov award is a poignant reminder that time waits for no man, or woman. Russian dissident Sakharov caught a glimpse but never did get to see the full, and at times troubled, transformation of the Soviet Union from a communist dictatorship to a democracy under the leadership of Gorbachev. he died in December 1989, just after the Berlin Wall was knocked down, remembered as an important figure in the democratic transition.

Suu Kyi’s followers hope their icon has many years ahead of her to realize her dream. Now aged 68 – the same age as Sakharov when he died – Suu Kyi is expected to be part of the transition to a true democracy in Myanmar. But there are no givens in this game.

Suu Kyi was in her early forties when she returned to Myanmar in 1988 and stepped into the role of the people’s hero. She has long aspired to become the country’s leader and makes no secret that she wants the top post, should the vote go her way.

“There are those who say I shouldn’t say I would like to be president,” Suu Kyi said, responding to a question at the World economic Forum held earlier this year in Naypyitaw. “But if I pretended that I didn’t want to be president I wouldn’t be honest, and I would rather be honest with my people.”

Might she follow in the footsteps of other well-known freedom fighters – Lech Walesa in Poland, Vaclav havel in Czechoslovakia, and Nelson Mandela in South Africa – who took up the leadership of their countries? She would be in good company.

Only time will tell. When she returned from Strasbourg, she was able to place the Sakharov prize alongside her other awards on the mantelpiece in the home that served as her prison for so many years. She may be inundated with adulation and awards, but her ultimate prize remains elusive.

——————————————————————————–

This Article first appeared in the October 31 edition of Mizzima Business Weekly.

Mizzima Business Weekly is available in print in Yangon through Innwa Bookstore and through online subscription at http://www.mzineplus.com

Last modified on Sunday, 03 November 2013 14:21

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Info Birmanie
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Birmania Campaign
Burma Info
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FBC-SA
Birmania por la Paz
Swedish Burma Committee
Association Suisse-Birmanie
Strategy and Build
All Burma Federation of Student Unions (Foreign Affairs Committee)
Burma Partnership
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National Council of the Union of Burma
Altsean
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Human Rights Treaties ratified by Burma
Human Rights Watch - Burma page
International Labour Organisation: Report on Forced Labour in Burma
Landmine Monitor Report: Burma 2008
Reporters without Borders
Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO)
Christian Solidarity Worldwide

REPORTS

UNSC Report No. 1- 4 Oct 2007
Update Report 19 September 2007_Myanmar (UNSC Report)
Update Report 22 Nov 2006_Myanmar
UN Report- Myanmar Opium Survey - Oct 2004
UNSC Report No. 1 - 10 September 2008
UNSC Report No. 4- 14 May 2008
Security Council-Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar
Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar
Thayer The Myammar/Burma Issue: After Sanctions
■ SUPPLY AND COMMAND
■ Gas & Oil Connections - Myanmar lost to China- India's encirclement complete
AI Report June 2008
AI Report November 2007 AI Report December 2007
AI Report June 2005
AI Report on Myanmar briefing after Nargis
EIU Country Report :March 2009
EIU Annual Report : 2007
EU Conclusion on Myanmar - Oct 2007
Amnesty International- Sep 2007
■ A History of the Burma Socialist Party by Kyaw Zaw Win

NUCLEAR

■ Recognition of Burma's Proliferation
■ Plagiarism in the Burma Nuclear SCOOP
■ Nuclear Proliferation and Burma the Hidden Connection
■ Burma's Secret Agreement With North Korea
■ BURMA-A-Threat-to-International-Security-and-Peace
■ Additional-Burmese-Missile-Sites-Identified
■ WMD Nexus Between North Korea and Burma
■ Where's the State Dept Nuclear Report on Burma
■ BURMA DIGEST Interview on Burma Nuclear
■ Analysis of Burma's Nuclear Program 1
■ Analysis of Burma's Nuclear Program 2
■ Russia Burma Nuclear Intelligence Report-1
■ Russia Burma Nuclear Intelligence Report-2
■ Arm-Including Nuke Dealing With N-Korea
■ Burma's China Connection and the India Ocean Region By Andrew Selth
■ NEITHER WAR NOR PEACE The Future of cease-fire Agreements in Burma
■ A Historical Overview of Political Transition in Myanmar Since 1988
■ Sino-Myanmar Economic Relations Since 1988
■ The Road to Naypyidaw- Making Sense of the Myanmar Government's Decision to Move its Capital
■ Southern Thai Politics - A Preliminary Overview

UN WORLD BODIES

Vale Earth Fair
Conservative Party Human Rights Commission
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
US State Department report on Burma
US State Department report on human rights in Burma
Witness CIA World Factbook - Burma
News Statesman special issue on Burma (Jun 08)
Global Health Facts
HIV Information for Myanmar (HIM)
Mae Tao Clinic (Dr Cynthia’s clinic)
Three Diseases Fund

ART

Art-Exiled Burmese Hip Hop
Identity and Design

Library

Online Burma Library

Journalism

Development Gateway
Human Security Gateway
Inside Burma - Land of Fear
Inside Burma - Land of Fear

Aung San Suu Kyi Pages

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pages
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pages
Free Aung San Suu Kyi

PHOTOGRAPHY

■ Images of Suspected Uranium Mine and Refinery in Burma
Exile Images: Photography
Grace under Pressure
Kalama Sutta
Karen guerillas

MOVIES

Shwe Dream
Burma VJ
Inside Burma - Land of Fear
Inside Burma - Land of Fear
Moving to Mars
Kalama Sutta
The Hub, by Witness.

MONKS

English
Burmese

BDC SITES

Bdcburma
Bdcburma Burmese
Music
Italian
Swedish
Youtube
French
German
Bdc wordpress
Russia
Norwegian
Spanish
Hindi/ India
Portuguese
Italian
Dutch
Swedish
Japanese
News and Entertainment Portal
Flickr
Radio

BLOGS SITES

Nguyinpyin
Rebound88
Redo8888
Dr Lunswe
Lanka-msma
Damaahdama
Myo Chit myanmar
Maynyane
Flying Peacock
Maykha
Aeinstein
Moethaukkye
Binamo
Absdf8888
Blc Burma
DPNS
Ko Moe Thee
drlunswe
khinmamamyo
ko-htike
niknayman
soneseayar
maungdine
mmedwatch
maynyane
nineninesanay
linletkyalsin
shwebothar
peacefulwalkingtogether
publicenemies
weunite-weblog
freedomuprising
pu-htu-zin
internationalcampaignforfreedom Blog Generation Wave

ETNIC SITES

Chin Youth
Feraya,s new website-taigress
Free Burma Rangers
Hurform- HRF of Monland
Karen Human Rights Group
KNL Japan
KNU
Mae Sod Border action
Phan Foundation
Chin Human Rights Organization
Drum Publications
Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)
Karen National Union (KNU)
Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO)
Karenni Homeland
Karenni Students Union (KSU)
Kawthoolei
Kuki Forum (KIF)
Rohingyas, the Forgotten People Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
The Chin Forum
The Rohingya Minority

WOMEN

Burmese Women’s Union
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO)
Karenni National Women’s Organization
Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
WEAVE - Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment
Women’s League of Burma
Women’s League of Chinland

NGOS

Burma Diaspora
Help without Frontiers
http://www.helfenohnegrenzen.de/
Latest IDP figure for Burma - Internal Displacement Monitoring Group
WEAVE - Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment
All Burma Federation of Student Unions (Foreign Affairs Committee)
All Burma Students’ Democratic Front
Burma Education Partnership (BEP)
Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
Prospect Burma
Federation of Trade Unions - Burma
Global Unions: Companies linked to Burma
Burma Border Projects (BBP)
Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF)
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
Burma Diaspora

SPDC SITES

New Light of Myanmar
The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) website

ENVIRONMENTAL

Karen Rivers Watch
Living River Siam
Project Maje
Salween watch
Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia
Burma Economic Watch
Business and Human Rights Resource Centre
Global Unions: Companies linked to Burma
Salween watch
SEEcompanies.com
Shwe Gas Movement
AIDS, TB, Malaria and Bird Flu spread unchecked in Burma
Back Pack Health Worker Team

NLD SITES

National League for Democracy (NLD) Liberated area UK Branch
NLD Japan
The National League For Democracy

Media SITES

BBC Burmese
Burmadaily
Burmanet
Democratic Voice of Burma
mizzima news
NEW ERA JOURNAL-KHITPYAING
Special Burma News
Shan Herald Agency
Kwekalu Karen News
Kuki Forum
Karen Information Center(KIC)
Burmese Events in UK
Burma Rivers Network
Mizzima Burmese
Burma Digest
Hit Tai
Khitpyaing
Burma Today
Burma daily
Burmalibrary
Yoma3
Kachin News
Kachin Post
Kaowao Newsgroup
Karen Human Rights Group
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