August 12, 2017

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Assessing the democratic transition and the way forward

  • By Maw Lin

The relentless struggle for democracy is the greatest historical landmark in the modern history of Myanmar. After parliament was abolished in Myanmar democracy started fading away. Democratic practices began to diminish in the political and administrative sectors together with the gradual erosion of democracy in the fields of social, economic and judicial system. For about 20 years Myanmar politics was plunged into despair. The country, once an economic might in Asia fell to the level of least developed country. A special privileged class emerged and a great gap between the rich and the poor emerged. Social inequity and unbalanced or biased judicial system prevailed in the country. There were also unjust practices even in the realm of culture and religion. Corruption became rampant in the heels of chaos in the domain of administration and the judiciary. As a consequence human rights and democratic freedom disappeared.
The people were so afraid they dared not express their views, opinions and desires. People became dejected, disillusioned and desperate with the prevailing conditions of the country. It resulted in a general people’s uprising for democracy in 1988. People no longer tolerated the lack of democracy and general downtrend of the country and took to the streets calling for the restoration of democracy in the country.
The army tried to control the countrywide uprising by seizing the State power through a military coup. However they had to cede to the demand of the people and made a policy switch towards democratic transformation. Though it took a considerably long time to get on the right track to democracy, people could have eventually put the country on the path to democracy by their unstinting movement for change, ardent desire and the great force of the people. Amidst many constraints, general elections were held and the so-called civilian government emerged with ex-army men in the cabinet constituting a majority.
Then in 2015 after the general elections, the people voted into power the true civilian government with NLD people’s representatives forming the majority. The elected representatives are now in the Hluttaw and they are serving the country in the respective fields of duty. The first civilian President also emerged after 60 years of military leaders. The democracy leader, icon of people’s aspirations is now serving as State Counsellor with massive people’s support.
In this situation both Myanmar people and international circles believed that Myanmar is now on the track of democratization. Myanmar is now on the way to democracy, but it is now time to analyze and assess how far the transition has reached and how far the campaign rhetoric can be translated into practice.
The forum in which discussions with critical analysis and assessment on the democratic transition of Myanmar will be made is being held today 11 August 2017 under the supervision of Ministry of Information.
In this 3-day forum the democratic transition in the areas of politics, economy, military and civilian relationship and the role of the media will be discussed and assessed. It has been accepted that politics and peace are the main determinants in achieving a democratic transition. However, the forum will discuss how much the economy, civilian military relationship, role of the media and freedom of the press are also crucial in the successful implementation of tasks in the democratic transition process. It is also hoped that the forum will come up with tasks to be carried out in the future. It is also expected that critical assessments on the past during the transition period will also be made. It may include assessments on the performance of the people’s representatives and cabinet members to see whether they live up to the aspirations of the people.
Self-esteem and the self-congratulatory nature of human beings will also be reviewed and this will give a warning bell to those who happen to entertain these mentalities. Apart from the discussion on the importance of politics, economy, military civilian relationship and role of media in democratic transition, a general overview on the democratic transition process is also necessary. It is believed the forum will produce the best solution for peace, development and justice in the country.

Translated by Khin Maung Win

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