News / Asia

Burmese President Says Poor Governance Slowing Reforms

Burmese President Thein Sein delivers a speech at the President house in Naypyitaw, Burma, December 26, 2012.
Burmese President Thein Sein delivers a speech at the President house in Naypyitaw, Burma, December 26, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
Burma's President Thein Sein on Wednesday issued rare public criticism of officials, saying poor governance and corruption maintained from military rule were slowing reform efforts.  He urged a change of behavior to a "people-based development strategy".  But, political analysts say reforming decades of military misrule will not be easy.  

In a major policy speech to ministers and local leaders, President Thein Sein noted a remarkably smooth transition in the last two years from military to civilian rule.  

Broadcast live on national TV and radio, he touted progress in political and economic reforms that were attracting international praise and investment.

But, President Thein Sein underscored that Burma still lags far behind its neighbors both socially and economically and its governance does not meet international standards. He said the scale of the remaining challenges to democratic reform was immense.

He says success or failure, to have improvements in politics and the economy of the country, depends on the effectiveness of government mechanisms.

The president went on to criticize officials for poor governance and maintaining the same practices and mindset that was prevalent under military rule.

He said local officials in particular lack transparency, fail to listen to the people, and skirt rules and regulations.

The president says, as a result, there is corruption among officials and it is slowing government mechanisms.  Therefore, the governance and management system is weak and the characteristics and qualities of good government are also weak.

President Thein Sein took office in March 2011, just months after Burma's first nation-wide election in 20 years ended decades of military rule.

The former general, and prime minister under the military government, surprised critics by releasing hundreds of political prisoners, allowing unions and freedom to protest, and ending direct media censorship. He also embraced democracy and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as a partner in reform after the military released her from years of house arrest.

Political analysts say his speech was a significant step aimed at maintaining the momentum of reform. However, it also risks upsetting military hardliners and others who have a stake in the old top-down system.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak is director of Bangkok's Institute of Security and International Studies.  He says since the 67-year-old president does not plan to run for office again he can take more risks with his credibility.

"He has a mandate to push through these reforms and he does not have to be concerned, unlike Aung San Suu Kyi for example, of winning the election.  So, it's a bold move," he said. "It's not going to happen overnight.  But, it has to be clear.  He's setting the tone here.  And, we will have to see, if he goes too fast he could also be derailed.  So, it's a delicate balance that Thein Sein is trying to maintain."

To encourage good governance, and reduce public grievances, the president announced plans to form township level committees across the country that will be made up of officials, community and business leaders, as well as activists.  They will have the power to discuss, decide and implement local matters that were previously handled by township officers.

Aung Thu Nyein is director of the think tank Vahu Development Institute.  He says the president wants to move away from centralized power and military-led politics.

"The country need to promote meritocracy rather than, you know, appointing officers, you know, who are loyal to the government or to the military," he said. "So, until at this moment, you know, I found there are many retiree from the military you know are appointed again in higher position in the government."

Burma's past military rulers cited ongoing ethnic insurgencies as part of the justification for maintaining their grip on power.

In his speech, President Thein Sein noted progress with ethnic armed groups in setting aside differences to work with the government.  He said the country would not be able to enjoy peace and development without national reconciliation.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs