The following is the monthly radio speech delivered by President U Thein Sein on 3 November.
My fellow citizens,
As I have done previously, I would like to give you the
monthly update on the work of my government, and the developments that have taken place in our country.
Since the historic general elections will be held this month, I would like to focus on issues relating to the elections and the reform process.
In a few days, the most meaningful and significant general elections in Myanmar history will be held. This is because for the first time since independence, all political forces in the country will be contesting general elections. Since my government took office, we have focused on liberalization and implementing practical reforms to foster a democratic society. We made every effort to breathe life into these reforms, as the prevailing political conditions dictated. This hard work built the foundation that has enabled the holding of the upcoming general elections. Because of this, I firmly believe these elections are the most meaningful and important in Myanmar history. Furthermore, Myanmar, its society and citizens deserve democracy. These elections show that the country is ready to continue with reforms with increasing momentum.
The elections will not only shape the future of Myanmar, but also advance reintegration with the global community, foreign investment and international cooperation.
I especially urge each citizen to value the importance of his or her ballot, and realize that individual choice, if harnessed collectively, is a powerful force. When making their selections, I encourage citizens to vote with sincerity, patience, and foresight in keeping with the values of citizenship and society. Every citizen is free to vote for whom he or she wishes. In so doing, let all of us Myanmar citizens show that we are capable of making good and wise choices.
It is clear that our country still has insufficient democratic experience and institutions for nation building. Because of these constraints, I accept that it will be difficult to hold elections that are perfect. However, my government is fully committed to ensuring that the elections are clean, free, and peaceful.
I believe the results of these 2015 general elections will reflect the true wishes of the citizens. Therefore, I urge political parties and the public to respect the choices of the people, and welcome and accept the results. After the elections, political leaders will need to discuss and jointly bring about a political arrangement that all political forces can accept.
On October 15th, leaders of the government, parliament, and Tatmadaw together with the leaders of eight Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA)—a historical milestone in the peace process. International and respected national political leaders signed as witnesses, attesting to the legality and robustness of the agreement.
The NCA is the first comprehensive ceasefire agreement to be signed by the EAOs, the government, parliament, and the Tatmadaw. This agreement is a pledge by the signatories to work together to implement the peace process. The door is also open for the remaining EAOs to sign the NCA, and discussions are continuing.
These are not easy issues to resolve, and some challenges and clashes persist. Despite the obstacles, we must continue to strive for a nationwide ceasefire and inclusive political dialogue. The NCA must be implemented, and at the same time, we must ensure the people living in conflict areas are able to enjoy the fruits of peace as soon as possible.
For decades, Myanmar suffered under a political system that lacked mutual restraint, and governance that was undemocratic. The country faced internal armed conflicts, poverty, and international isolation. To fix this, my government launched and committed to reforms in all sectors. We are striving to create a democratic, peaceful and wealthy future for the people, and for future generations.
It is difficult to accomplish all these challenging tasks during a single term of government. Under my administration, we have had to delicately undertake changing outdated mindsets, habits, and the practice of putting self-interest first. We dealt with every challenge we faced so as to nurture a new political system and new political culture, so badly needed in our society.
In the early days of our country’s reforms launched soon after the 2010 general elections, many countries were also going through democratic transitions. However, these countries today face civil war and lack of effective government. Although our country may be deficient according to some international measures, we are gradually and decisively implementing the required changes. I would like to stress that reforms in each country must take place at the right pace, at the right time, and after carefully considering all the factors.
We also succeeded in bringing all the political forces into the political process. The successful holding of the 2012 by-elections, the signing of the NCA, and meetings between the top political leaders to resolve issues are prime examples of the new political culture my government has worked to establish taking hold. With this as the foundation, we must work on achieving a nationwide ceasefire and resolving issues that are obstacles to nation building. We were also able to enable inclusive political dialogue that will represent all political forces. We must continue to strive to achieve the establishment of a federal and democratic nation as agreed. At the same time, my government has made tangible improvements to the livelihoods of the people. From telecommunications to delivery of people-centered services, we have gradually improved and raised the quality of services. Moreover, we implemented fundamental reforms to enable accountable and responsive bureaucratic mechanisms.
We must unwaveringly continue to work on reforms to improve the delivery of people-centered services, healthcare, education, job opportunities, individual freedoms, and human security.
During my government’s term, I have strived to introduce and implement reforms to the best of my abilities. In this time, we have seen many difficulties, and had to find answers to these challenges. More obstacles to the reforms had to be faced and overcome. These are all valuable and required experiences for anyone leading the transition and reform process at an increasing pace. We also see that in the area of improving people-centered services corruption is a major challenge, and attention must be given to its elimination. Most importantly, we now have the foundation to continue implementing short, medium and long-term economic plans that are easily understood by the people, and in which they can participate for their benefit. I believe it is especially important to continue to improve people’s livelihoods and maintain political stability.
I am committed to achieving internal peace, improving livelihoods, and ensuring better lives for future generations. By learning from past experiences, I firmly believe we will sustain these processes, accomplish democratic reforms, and overcome the challenges facing our country. I conclude this month’s radio address by reaffirming my pledge to work towards a better future for our country.