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March 02, 2018

More space for greater citizen engagement

IT is hard to believe that a country rich in natural resources like Myanmar lags so far behind others in terms of economic development. What lies at the bottom of this predicament is political instability, which has encumbered successive governments with the adoption and execution of policies crucial for economic development.
Now that the second democratically elected civilian government has been in office for more than two months, it is time for the incumbent to develop technically sound policies for development, in addition to its 100-day plan. It is understandable that the country has many sensitive issues to grapple with, in addition to the perverse behavioral norms among public officials who seek to extract personal benefits from the public sector—a legacy left by successive governments in Myanmar—but work ought to be done to improve where possible.
The time is ripe for the incumbent to make a difference in Myanmar politics by providing more space for greater citizen engagement with the intention of making politics work for development rather than against it. The participation of citizens in the political process with the help of the media will ensure greater transparency about the actions of the government and the consequences of its actions.
This will enable ordinary people to work with the government at all levels and build effective public sector institutions to cope with community issues, thereby helping stabilise the whole political situation.
Therefore, all stakeholders across the political spectrum should encourage citizen engagement and transparency by improving the political behaviour of citizens and public officials. In this way, public participation can be promoted to ensure good governance.


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