At Political Forum, State Counselor Urges Break With the Past

By Htun Htun 11 August 2017

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has urged the government officials to break “the shackles of the past” as part of the country’s democratic transition.

“The victims of the past, those who can’t shatter the shackles of the past, have caused a lot of hindrances in the democratic transition,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her opening remarks to the Forum on Myanmar’s Democratic Transition which kicked off in Naypyitaw on Friday.

“The past is only about learning lessons. The most important thing for us is the present. Think simply: What you are doing for the democratic struggle?” she asked.

Under the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, the Myanmar Army still holds three key ministries—home affairs, defense and border affairs—and the entire administration is still largely dominated by associates of the previous governments, though the top positions are held by the National League for Democracy (NLD). Political analysts have pointed out that this indicates resistance from the old guard in the deregulation and reform process.

The three-day forum seeks input on smoothing the democratic transition in Myanmar, and is being attended by political scientists, diplomats, and researchers from political and economic fields.

The forum will mainly discuss the topics on the shifts from a military to civil administration, from a centralized to a market economy, and from wars to peace.

“The government officials need to look far ahead and be dutiful in undertaking their responsibilities,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

Min Ko Naing, a prominent leader of the 88-Generation Peace and Open Society, touted rule of law as an important factor in the transition.

“A [smooth] civil-military relationship is impossible with a sensitive attitude—when we tell the truth, there will be sore points. If those who are aggrieved [by the military’s actions] can tolerate [the oppression], then those who inflict this [suffering] should now demonstrate maturity. We need that,” Min Ko Naing said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said: “Some think that the country will automatically achieve peace if there is development. I don’t agree that view. We can’t view peace and development separately. Without peace, development can’t be sustained for long, and vice versa.”

“So, we are working for peace as our top priority,” she said.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko