News / Asia

In New Year's Speech, Burma's President Vows More Transparency

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.
VOA News
Burmese President Thein Sein has vowed to do a better job of communicating with the nation, as he delivered his first ever New Year's speech on Tuesday.

In a five-minute radio address, the reformist leader promised a new campaign of more direct, transparent communication with the people, saying mutual trust was key to the country's ongoing transition.

The 67-year-old said the world was "amazed" by the country's political reforms in 2012, which included releasing hundreds of political prisoners, loosening media censorship and allowing democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to successfully run for parliament.

But the former general acknowledged Burma still "has many aspects to reform." He said popular expectations had soared in light of the rapid changes, but he urged the public to be patient, saying widespread change takes time.

Burma is emerging from over five decades of harsh military rule. Since Thein Sein's nominally civilian government took power in 2011 and began to implement changes, Western nations have begun gradually loosening long-standing sanctions.

In a symbol of how far the country has come, as many as 90,000 people gathered in the country's largest city, Rangoon, on Monday evening to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

The celebration, which included fireworks, singing and dancing, would have been unthinkable under Burma's former military rulers, who had banned large public gatherings.

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