August 19, 2016

From a man of his word to a man of the people

“I will always be loyal to the Union of Myanmar and will always put non-disintegration of the union, national unity and perpetuation of sovereignty at the forefront.”
These were the words coming out of the mouths of the new president and two vice presidents at the swearing-in ceremony in parliament yesterday, with each of them holding the constitution in their hands while taking an oath simultaneously by repeating after Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than.
In his address to the parliament following the oath, new president U Htin Kyaw vowed that his new government would make every effort to secure national reconciliation so as to ensure lasting peace across the country and enhance the living standards of the people, hinting at the emergence of a constitution that reflects democratic standards appropriate for the country.
Despite this, amending the constitution is not an easy task since the military representatives retain a quarter of parliamentary seats, a power effective enough to have a veto on any amendments the new government may wish to make.
To his great credit, since his government’s inception in 2011, President U Thein Sein has started the reform processes in ending half a century of military rule, signing a nationwide ceasefire agreement with eight ethnic armed organisations, holding a historic election considered the freest and the fairest in recent history and promising a smooth transfer of state responsibility to his successor.
All things considered, Wednesday’s ceremony to handover state responsibility from the predecessor to his successor is in a sense a historic occasion of a man of his word passing the baton to a man of the people.


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