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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.