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On Myanmar’s Democratization

CGP alumni member Martin Tuang, a citizen of Myanmar, writes about the challenges facing his home country during its transition to democracy.

News from Dec 21, 2015

It is really encouraging to see Myanmar having almost a nationwide election in Nov 2015 - and yet as many expected, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Daw Ag San Suu Kyi, won by a landslide. Today, the people of Myanmar and spectators from international societies are excited by this dramatic democratization and how the elected government will proceed forwards.

First of all, Myanmar is a deeply divided society. When we are looking towards reconciliation and nation building, there must be a consensus in place concerning the nature and the character of the state. A few hours ago, a draft framework for political dialogue came to light and we need to pay close attention to it. For a deeply divided society like Myanmar, we will face challenges in balancing the rights of small ethnic minorities, the rights of the majority and of course human rights.

The NLD has already announced that they will use a national reconciliation policy, indicating that peace and reconciliation is at the top of the agenda. Aunty Suu is embracing Myanmar’s citizens to join the nation building process - this is one of the many indications of institutional development.

Institutional arrangements such as decentralization and federalization must be in place not only at a national level but also at state as well as city and township levels: across all government institutions with a focus on the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Immigration and Population.

We must acknowledge the role of military and the President U Thein Sein in shaping the new democratic era.

Myanmar is about to welcome the world, yet first it needs to sort out its own priorities.

As a last note, Myanmar will need sincere help and support from international societies during this democratization process.