Thein Sein Joins TIME’s 100 Influential People List

Burmese President Thein Sein has joined TIME's list of the 100 most influential people of 2012. (Photo:

TIME’s Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2012 has a surprising inclusion this year―Burmese President Thein Sein.

The reform-minded former junta general has won the accolades of the prestigious publication’s editors, with national pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi missing out despite being included three times in recent years.

And not everyone agreed with ignoring the Nobel Laureate who has just been elected as a member of the Burmese Parliament.

A student studying at a Bangkok university told The Irrawaddy that she thinks Thein Sein deserves the reward because of his efforts within a year of being president, but added that, “I voted for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and was amazed to hear about Thein Sein being cited in the list and not her.”

U Ashin Zawana, a leading dissident monk and former political prisoner, said that Thein Sein was recognized by TIME because of his wide-reaching reform platform including initiating negotiations with the democratic opposition and ethnic groups which were shunned under the former military government.

But there remains a question whether the Burmese president is really an influential person on both domestic and international stage.

Aung Thu Nyein, a member of Vahu Development Institute, said this reward is to demonstrate international support for Thein Sein’s reforms during his administration.

“It is to show the encouragement of the international community to President Thein Sein for his obvious changes of Burmese politics from dictatorship to democracy,” he said.

However, some think that TIME’s editorial choice does not reflect the real situation in Burma for normal people.

Cherry Zahau, a prominent Chin activist, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that, “the TIME recognition is just for his personal endorsement to encourage him to do what he needs to do for changes in Burma.”

“He cannot be called a very influential person because he does not even influence domestically,” she added, referring to continuous fighting and human rights abuses in ethnic regions such as Kachin and Shan states.

Despite his efforts to establish a peace process with the various ethnic nationalities, there are still conflicts out of his control and nothing has really changed on the ground until these ceasefire agreements are settled, she added.

Sally Thompson, the deputy director of Thailand Burma Border Consortium, said this TIME acknowledgment has shown that “Thein Sein’s decisions are being observed by the international community.”

“He is now under a lot of pressure to be able to produce significant results―to show that it’s not just talk, but actually its ongoing action that will result in a significant improvement for the people on the ground in the country,” she said.

However, she added that it is too early to say that this recognition will herald any benefit to the Burmese refugee population in Thailand in terms of returning them to their homeland.

9 Responses to Thein Sein Joins TIME’s 100 Influential People List

  1. I think Thein Sein really deserves this recognition. He is behind the screen who leads the country to the path of democracy and brings our democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, back to the power circle. If the army generals say “No”, they can still hold on to the power. And what can we do? It’s been twenty three years. Yes?
    While the fate of the country lies on one man, Thein Sein is the right man at the right time, who would carry these burdens. we should support him.

  2. ရဲေမၾကည္

    It is to confess that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is more influential than U Thein Sein on the ground, domestically and internationally.
    Nevertheless, the praise of TIME on President Thein Sein as one of the most influential person of the Year has acknowledged his effort somehow and will encourage him not to turn back in the way to Democracy.
    I would say that he has not other way around to turn back, but to go ahead towards Reform and Democracy, I think.

  3. Yes , Time Magazen is righ,Thein Sein, the president of Myanmar deserves it. Politically it is very correct because if we call a tift, he is a good person latter he become good.This is Burmese culture they like it to call them good.

  4. Yep, let him and his gang paint themselves into a corner. A better analogy is our own: he’s like a dog that has entered a roll of bamboo mat, and it’s the right thing to prod him on. Cheers.

  5. Well if Time Magazine editor know about Burmese Government and then he will put Than Shwe name instead of President Thein Sein.
    Without Than Shwe’s consent, Thein Sein can do nothing. President Thein Sein is just puppet and he has to dance with Than Shwe’s tune.

  6. It is time for real reform, any way that it can happen authentically and without further loss of precious human life.

    First steps first, then change to the sham 2008 Constitution that was forced onto helpless people.

    If the military attempts to hold on to what was wrong, there will be an international outcry. If the changes are real, and proven, then the world will respond. Meanwhile international travel visas should not be given to those who have not released the political prisoners, every single one.

  7. I am excluded from TIME’s Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2012.

  8. I think recognition should be given, as U Thein Sein has brought about many changes, whether strings pulled or not. We have lived here for 60 years without any change , so appreciate and remember Rome was not built in one day. Let’s be patient as changes in a country don’t come instantaneously.We need to help build Burma and get the name ” Paradise of the East” back and this will help with actions and not just talk.
    Burma has gone through alot, people have suffered , the country named as the Rice Pot of the World had people famished for rice, prisons and deaths, sacrifices ,children deprived of education and health, and many more. Let’s hope whoever leads , brings back Burma to its days of glory.

  9. We shall recognite his efforts.Try to organise 50 people to celebrate the big event in Oversea.Then, You will know how hard it is.First Ask ourself that how good I am.?Have I done something to change the life of others.?How many hours do we work for the family and others.?How much taxes do we pay for the country and for our people.It does not matter which countries we live ,We have the duties as citizens of that

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