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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs