Thein Sein Delivers New Year’s Day Message

Burma’s President Thein Sein attends a session of the 21st Asean and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh in November. Thein Sein delivered a five-minute New Year’s address on Tuesday, reflecting on the past year of reform and the challenges ahead. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON—Burma’s president made his first New Year’s address to the nation on Tuesday as part of what he called a new campaign to communicate directly with the people.

President Thein Sein reflected on the country’s much-touted progress last year and the challenges ahead in a five-minute broadcast, which he said he chose to deliver by radio because that is how most of the country gets its news. Many people in the impoverished country do not own televisions.

“The world was amazed at Myanmar’s [Burma’s] impressive political progress in 2012,” said Thein Sein, who last year became the first elected president after a half-century of military rule.

“We all know that our once closed and isolated society still has many aspects to reform.”

In a show of humility that was not displayed by the former junta, Thein Sein acknowledged that he needs to do more to earn the people’s trust and will make a point to speak to the people more often.

He vowed “to start a new direct communication link, which is a necessity for our society.”

“The most important ingredient for success of Myanmar’s democratic transition is the mutual trust between the government and the people,” he said.

The 67-year-old ex-general, who had been prime minister under the ruling junta, has won international praise for spearheading reforms, including ending direct media censorship, releasing political prisoners and allowing public demonstrations.

But Thein Sein indicated he was aware of the disconnect between how the outside world and the people of Burma view the country’s reform process. Many in Burma say they read about their country’s changes but see no difference to their impoverished everyday lives.

“Popular expectations have soared as reforms in the previous year brought about political developments,” he said, asking the public to be patient, saying that widespread change takes time.

On New Year’s Eve, Burma held its first public countdown to the New Year in the latest, and perhaps most exuberant, example of its emergence from decades of isolation.

Organizers of the event in Rangoon said about 90,000 people gathered at the celebration, which featured music, dancing and a grand fireworks display—all unthinkable under the former military regime, which had banned public gatherings.

“This is very exciting and also our first experience in celebrating the New Year at a big countdown gathering,” said Yu Thawda, a university student who came with three of her friends. “We feel like we are in a different world.”

Associated Press writer Aye Aye Win contributed to this report.

8 Responses to Thein Sein Delivers New Year’s Day Message

  1. He should emphasise the need for establishing a central government that has legitimacy with all the different ethnic nationals and the need to trasform the half century old conflict through meaningful political dialogue. Nothing would change to the lives of over 40% Myanmar citizens unless the ethnic conflict is resolved for good. Continued warfare will only allow corruption and poverty to grow.

    • Central government? No way! What has plagued the country for decades is the all authority and power residing in a central government. In a federal system, states share powe/jurisdictions with the Union government. Take a look at how the United States of America interacts and shares powers with the fifty states.

      U Kyaw Win

      • Yes, i fully support you , professor. However, thein sein does not emphasize about the important of ethnics issue in his speech. I never hear that all bama leaders , including DASSK address or will honor Panglong agreement in their reform. All bama leaders want to introduce second Panglong agreement for bamanization in which there is border guard force , totally controlled by than shwe and there is no federalism and autonomy ( ethnic rights) as well. Because all bama leaders think first Panglong agreement is out of date and overdue in rule of law , interpreted by than shwe, thein sein and DASSK. All Burmese should go out to show the support of the speedy implement of first Panglong agreement for first priority to boost foreign investment before any reform. Otherwise, all bama governments have full responsibility to compensate the loss in all ethnics, incurred by failure of obligation of Panglong agreement.

        • Whatever is this Panglong thing?

          Currently Clown-costumed, scripted and script reading Thein Sein and his group, multi-award winning Aung San Suu Kyi’s One Woman Party and all the “opposition” parties of former political prisoners and non-prisoners inside and outside the country, and “Peace” groups cannot possibly think of any thing other than getting rich quick by selling out everything and anything they can think of to any buyers (like a lin-thay-moke-hso-ma) to save the country from the humiliation and ignominy of being “behind” the ASEAN “partners” who they secretly in their mind look down upon for some weird Burmese sort of irrational conceit.

          Just as the “Neo-liberalism” is defined as “a programme for destroying collective structures which may impede the pure market magic.” ( Pierre Bourdieu, and the practitioners of which are invited to destroy Burma in hoards by the way, the current controlling crowd of the Burma’s politic, inside and outside the official government and the “Peace” groups, are tightly united as one and are going to sacrifice everything and anything including their own mothers, race, religion, anything to achieve that Shangri-La of “Better and richer than the ASEAN clowns” status.

          Not only they could not give a damn about whatever treaty you just mentioned, they would unite to support the eviction of the traditional farmers all over the country of millennium old food producing farms by force or by over-landing and then to cultivate Monsanto seeds in large scale farmings for that ” largest Rice exporter in the world as in the good old day” status. And get electricity as in Singapore by dam-ming all and any rivers, (do you hear any objection to any dam-ming now?) and getting any polluting junk power stations. And by selling out most vulnerable portion of the populace (including recently evicted farmers) for manual labour camps of strict and inhumane/ unhealthy conditions (for one dollar a day) called “SEZ’s” .

          Social instability and unrest will surely result ripe for further foreign manipulation and intervention.

          It’s best that that treaty thing is wrapped carefully with camphor and put in a safe place for the next century.

      • Refreshing to see a Bamar sounding name talking about F word. Even though the United States is not necessarily a shining leading light with 64 million people under poverty line with nearly half having no health care, minimal wage now less than in the 80’s and rich-poor divide being highest in the history and is getting worse, consequences of the “Constitution” of the Founding fathers like Madison and Hamilton, the Banker..

  2. He must keep looking over his shoulder all the time to see if the generals are still there. If they aren’t still there, he’s no longer a political leader.

  3. Tiger with no tooth, lion with no claw. Leader of corrupt junta.

  4. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Thein Sein’s just a LAME DUCK, much less a TOOTHLESS TIGER for that matter.
    The SETUP at Naypyidaw today is Than Shwe’s HANDIWORK since day one lest you guys fail to note.
    The guy is there only because Than Shwe says so in the first place trust me.
    He is just a GOOD CLERK of Than Shwe’s since day one until today to DO HIS BIDDING no more. .
    Thein Sein is actually a HOLY GUY and if he were in the Buddhist order he would be ONE AMONG the SUPREME SANGHA COUNCIL of BURMA today no doubt.
    Remember he has a FAMILY to take care of as well.
    Daw Suu FELL for IT (GOOD and HOLY GUY) after DINNER given by Thein Sein at his residence saying SHE TRUSTED Than Shwe’s CLERK straight away.
    And Daw Suu GOT CORRALLED in Than Shwe’s PUPPET PARLIAMENT finally of course.
    Straight away Daw Suu was GIVEN the SPADE TO SHOVEL the SHIT (peace commission, rule of law, Rohingya crisis, copper mine firebombing etc.) KEEPING HER AWAY from DOING HER JOB (AMEND/ABOLISH Than Shwe drawn 2008 Nargis constitution) most important and primarily as well to PUT BURMA on the ROAD to DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM as well.
    Than Shwe’s a SMART ASS, no wonder he headed the PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE arm of the Burma Army.
    SHAKING Thein Sein’s HANDS would not MEAN A THING as well given the fact he is only a DUD PRESIDENT, ANSWERABLE/ANSWERING to Than Shwe only since day one until today.
    The PRESIDENT has NO AUTHORITY much less the POWER in the first place as evidenced by Min Aung Hlaing (China Chosen C-in-C of the Burma Army) still WAGING a LAWLESS WAR in Kachin State using jet fighters, helicopter gunships, heavy artillery etc. today and CLOSING IN on KIA’S LAST STRONGHOLD LAIZA despite Thein Sein’s ORDERS GIVEN to HALT the HOSTILITIES since many months ago.
    Thein Sein’s TALK of GETTING COMMUNICATED/COZY with the PEOPLE is LONG OVERDUE as well of course.
    And it is NON-PRACTICABLE to say the least trust me.
    Than Shwe would not LET/MAKE IT HAPPEN, any bets?
    The former psychological warfare soldier KNEW IN HIS HEART the FACT since day one that PEOPLE GETTING CONNECTED/COZY with the MEMBERS of ARMED FORCES/MEMBERS of his Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) WOULD SPELL DOOM for HIM and HIS OUTFIT in Naypyidaw running Burma at the moment.
    To PROVE the POINT: NO MEMBERS of the USDP SHOWS UP much less LENDS A HAND in Than Shwe wrought CRISES (Rohingya fiasco, Irrawaddy dam crisis, copper mine firebombing amongst others) until today.
    Specifically, Thein Sein as president as well NEVER VISITED nor EXTENDED a HELPING HAND, much less OFFER WORDS of COMFORT/SYMPATHY in the CONFLICTS/CRISES ongoing in Burma until today.
    Even in communist China Hu Jintao or Wen Jai Bao is ON the SCENE and AMONG the PEOPLE when NATURAL DISASTERS STRUCK and the Chinese Army personnel ASSIST/HELP the people in times of calamities and crises as known/seen worldwide.
    FRIENDSHIP AMONG PEOPLE (soldiers, USDP members, ruling elite etc.) WOULD BE PERFECT RECIPE for HIS DOWNFALL as Than Shwe BELIEVED since day one until today.
    Hence, he MOVED his CAPITAL to Naypyidaw and his OUTFIT as well for that matter.
    The FARTHER from the PEOPLE is the BETTER for his (Than Shwe’s) SURVIVAL obviously.
    Now Thein Sein IS TALKING!
    And the PSYCHO MASTER (Than Shwe) IS HAVING A MASTER CARD most likely a HIDDEN DAGGER at HAND today no doubt.

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