Honoring The Promises: President Thein Sein First and Last State of the Union Address

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February 1st marked a new day for the Republic Union of Myanmar as the people in the country celebrated the re-opening of the parliament with the newly elected MPs, coming in_taking their rightful positions.

So today I will dedicate this post to the previous government and to the future of Burma in the years to come.

Back in 2011, in the EBO ANALYSIS PAPER No. 2 regarding the inauguration speech by President Thein Sein, there are a few questions that were asked by the author:

  1. Can U Thein Sein deliver his promises?
  1. Will the Senior-General tolerate such candor and deviation, however slight, from the President whom he appointed to maintain the status quo?
  1. Will the new Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hlaing tolerate the President’s meddling in military affairs?
  1. Will he trash the President’s national unity plans by attacking the ethnic armies that have not laid down their arms?

As you can see that all of these questions can only be answer 4 years after the speech; and from his last state of union address, President Thien Sein, have mentioned many positive changes and improvements that the country has achieved during his presidency, or in another words, have tried to give answers to those questions above.

Before looking his accomplishment, let’s look at his promises:

President U Thein Sein & His Promises 

I … do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I shall be loyal to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the citizens and hold always in esteem non-disintegration of the Union, non- disintegration of national solidarity, and perpetuation of sovereignty.

I shall uphold and abide by the Constitution and the laws. I shall carry out the responsibilities uprightly to the best of my ability and strive for further flourishing the eternal principles of justice, liberty and equality. I shall dedicate myself to the service of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

 Here is what the brief summary of what the former president of Myanmar have said in his inauguration speech back in 2011:

– After a short formal greeting to the upper and lower house, he continued by mentioning the period of “untold misery”, which according to him, the people were saved by the Tatmadaw.

The Tatmadaw with a strong sense of duty and loyalty saved the country several times whenever the country was close to collapse and loss of independence and sovereignty. Also in 1988, the Tatmadaw government saved the country from deteriorating conditions in various sectors and reconstructed the country. Now, it has laid sound foundations to build a peaceful, modern and developed nation. 

The Three National Causes

He as the government promises to uphold the 3 main national causes including:

– Non-disintegration of the Union

– Non-disintegration of national solidarity

– Perpetuation of sovereignty

 There are 3 main sectors that are needed to be strategically improved in order for Myanmar to thrive and to accomplish the national causes mentioned above. The president proposed the 3 might:

Political Might Economic Might Military Might

– National Unity

– National reconsolidation

– Emergence of a new enduring State Constitution

– Building of a new modern developed nation in accord with the new State Constitution

– Development of agriculture as the base and all-round development of other sectors of the economy as well

– Proper evolution of the market-oriented economic system

– Development of the economy inviting participation in terms of technical know-how and investments from sources inside the country and abroad

– The initiative to shape the national economy must be kept in the hands of the State and the national peoples

 

– Uplift of the morale and morality of the entire nation

– Uplift of national prestige and integrity and preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage and national character

– Uplift of dynamism of patriotic spirit

– Uplift of health, fitness and education standards of the entire nation

 

 I. Political Might

National Unity  

Material development including the construction of roads, bridges, educational institutions, hospitals and health centers are needed to bridge the gap between races and to omit the natural barriers among states.

– By building more roads and bridges, improving the education and health standards, and creating the economic foundations, the government believe that it will lead to the improvement of the socio-economic status of national races.

The greater number of roads, railroads and bridges the nation sees, the smoother transport there will be between one region and another, and friendlier relations there will be among national races.

 – In addition to this, the government will try to ensure the flourishing of Union Spirit, the fundamental requirement of national solidarity.

National Reconsolidation

Mr. president encourage everyone to follow the 7 Steps Road Map and the constitution by even mentioning:

They (those who opposed) are all citizens of our country. Therefore, they have to accept our government as their government.

 – However, he also welcome any changes to the already established constitution as long as the changes is done in line with the constitution

Despite different ideas and concepts, the people of us have to work closely in matters of same views in the national interests. If an individual or organization stands for election in accordance with the democratic practice to come to power in a justice way, that will be acceptable to everyone. Therefore, I would say our government will keep peace door open to welcome such individuals and organizations.

II. Economic Might

– He pointed out that the country might be prone to foreign underestimation and unfair treatment as the country is still developing; therefore, serious measure and efforts will be put into the country’s economic development.

– The 1st main focus is the agricultural sector.

– The 2nd is to transform the Myanmar into an industrialized country, which will create more jobs for the local and increase the people living conditions

– Tax reform and constitutional reform including privatization

III. Military Might

– To strengthen the nation from one generation to another for perpetuation of independence and sovereignty.

– Prevent the country from the hegemony of others

We will fall under the rule of neo-colonialists again. I am sure you understand well that neo-colonialists are anxious to interfere in the internal affairs of our country because our country occupies strategic position geographically and economically.

Market Economy

– Ensuring that economic forces such as the State, regional organizations, cooperatives and private enterprises can work in harmony in the framework of the market economy.

– Encouragement to small and medium enterprises and FDI

– Ensuring that the benefits will be distributed fairly

– The government will still play an important role and will interfere if necessary

– Assistance will also be given to national entrepreneurs for development of their industries and boost productivity.

– Create employment opportunities, stabilize commodity prices and encourage welfare and social security for the convenience of workers and laborers.

– Ensure sufficient minimum pay scale.

– Guarantee the national workers’ rights.

If we want the nation to enjoy development and economic growth, we will have to focus on industrial development.

 Agricultural Development

– In order to improve the living conditions of peasants and workers, the government will occasionally update the laws to safeguard the rights of peasants, take actions to ensure reasonable prices of agricultural produce.

– Farmers’ rights protection

Educational & Human Resource Development

– Promote the nation’s education standard to meet the international level and encourage human resource development.

– The free compulsory primary education system

– Improve the standards of present universities, colleges, and high, middle and primary schools, provide more teaching aids, sharpen the abilities and improve the socio-economic status of educational staff, and increase the enrolment rates in middle and high schools.

– Cooperation with international organizations including the UN, INGOs, and NGOs

– Promulgate laws for private education schools.

– Provide stipends for higher education abroad and stipends to outstanding students

Health Care Reform

– Improve quality of the hospitals that opened over past two decades and skills of medical staff and especially the rural health centers and medical staff.

– Work together with international organizations including the UN, INGOs, and NGOs.

– Promulgate necessary laws to standardize the health care services of private health centers.

– Set up a health care system covering the participation of the State, the people and altruistic organizations to beef up community health care.

– Work more closely with international organizations in pursuit of the national projects on control and prevention of the three diseases: AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Environmental Conservation

– Conservation of forests and woodlands to reduce air and water pollution, control dumping of industrial waste and conserve wildlife

– Lay down a new policy for economic development, which is in parallel with environmental conservation.

– Mobilize participation of the people and social organizations in the tasks for environmental conservation and create renewable energy at low cost.

– Review and amend laws and enact new laws on environmental conservation.

Foreign Affairs Policy 

– Exercise non-aligned, independent and active foreign affairs policy and dealt with other countries in line with the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

– Remained neutral in international relations.

– Do not permit any foreign troops to deploy within the borders of the Union and never launch aggression against and interfere in the internal affairs of any other country.

– Never pose threats to international and regional peace and security. These points are the pride of for the Myanmar’s foreign affairs policy.

– Stand firm as a respected member of the global community while actively participating in the international organizations, including the UN, ASEAN, BIMSTEC and other regional organizations.

The Last State of The Union Address

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– As promised, we have carried out political, economic, administrative and private sector development reforms in order to fulfil the wishes of the people to have peace, stability and development.

– The president keeps insisting on people to follow the 7 Seven-Step Roadmap and the constitution.

– With the conviction to open their doors and extend their hands, the government released prisoners of conscience so that all citizens can participate in the political process

– Held the 2012 interim elections

– Signed 39 state and union level peace agreement with 15 Ethnic Armed Organizations

– Signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement on October 15, 2015

– Held the Union Peace Conference on January 12, 2016 based on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement

Market Economy Policy

– Implementing the people-centered development plan start from 2011 to 2012 fiscal year

– To improve the socioeconomic condition of the people, the government placed their priority on 7 sectors:

  1. electricity
  2. drinking water
  3. agriculture
  4. livestock
  5. job creation
  6. tourism
  7. development of trade and investment

– To ensure sustainable development:

  1. Long Term (20 years) National All-Round Development Plan 2011-2030
  2. Myanmar All-Round Vision: 2010-2035
  3. Industrial Development Vision
  4. Other related conceptual plans, master plans and land use policies with the help of international government

– National Census Project for the first time in 30 years

Economic Sanction

– Proved to other countries that Myanmar is building a genuine democracy

– Regained the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

– There are still a few sanctions from the United States of America

– Enable the implementation of the FDI laws and special economic zones

– Domestic investment increased from MMK 241.57 billion to MMK 5,179.91 billion from 2011 to 2015

– Foreign investment increased from US$ 4.46 billion to US$22.12 billion from 2011 to 2015 (IMF report, 2015)

– Income per capita: US$800 in 2011 to US$ 1,270 in 2015

Economic Reform

– Abolishment of multiple exchange rates inside the country with the assistance of the International Monetary Funds

– Created an independent Central Bank

– Debt forgiveness equals to $6 billion (Paris Club member countries)

– Refinancing other debt with lower interest rates

– Get loans from World Bank, IMF, ADB, and ODA

– Start the process to become an EITI member country

– Omitted from the least developing country (LDC)

Education Sector

– Spent up to MMK1,692 billion in 2015

– Free education: till secondary school

– Created scholarship programs, outstanding scholars programs and awards, and presidential scholarship for studying aboard

– Increased spending on school buildings, furniture, teaching equipment, and other essentials

– Number of basic education school increased from 41,000 in 2011 to 45,000 in 2015

– Number of students: from 8,070,000 to over 8,800,000

– Number of teacher: from 270,000 to over 330,000

– Over 11,000 new schools were built and over 11,100 schools were renovated

– Revived and support Youth Social Organizations, Outstanding students programs and Youth Red Cross

– Dhamma Schools

– To include in the curriculum the civic education that promote social goods

We did all of this with the vision of building a nation with peaceful, calm, and pleasant people where goodwill, compassion, unselfish joy flourish.

Health Sector

– Spending: MMK 86.58 billion in 2011 to MMK 814.17 billion in 2015

– Opened 225 new hospitals and upgraded 100 hospitals

– 421 ward and township clinics, 225 village level health, maternal, child departments, and regional departments, 44 state level hospitals, and 9 nursing and midwifery schools were opened

– 15 state/regional level hospitals were upgraded to 500 bed capacity. Specifically, the Yangon General Hospital was upgraded to a 2,000-bed facility.

– Expanded free healthcare program

Telecommunication Sector

– Narrow down the information gap between the rural and urban areas with the improvement of the telecommunication sector making nearly everyone has the access to the Internet

– Permitted the participation of the international operators, the mobile usage increased from merely 4 or 5% to about 80% today

– The price of SIM cards, which previously cost as high as MMK1.5 million to only MMK 1,500

– Mobile banking

Electricity

– The access to electricity is currently the biggest barrier to the country development

– To solve this problem, the government has drafted the National Power Policy (developed with the cooperation from the World Bank) and a long term master implementation plan in cooperation with Japan International Cooperation Agency

– Power generation grew in the past 5 years to 1,822 MW, which enable 422 towns and villages access to electricity. In fact, Chin and Rakhine States are now connected to the national grid for the first time since the Independence

– Rural electrification is currently bringing power to 10,421 villages

According to the Master implementation plan, 1.7 million household will have access to electricity between 2015- 2019

Administrative Reforms

– Promoting responsibility, accountability, and working fairly for the benefits of the public, in accordance with laws, regulations and procedures

– Practice bottom up approach or decentralized administrative approach

– To foster better collaboration between the Union government and the state/regional governments, Delivery Units headed by deputy ministers were opened

– 267 One Stop Shops were also opened to promote transparency and delivery of the governance service

– Capacity building and educational programs for civil servants and the government also has raised their salaries and pensions

– Over 1 million civil servants have strived to nurture the new administrative system

Media Sector Reforms

– Capacity building programs were held to ensure the media ethics and standards

– Foreign media are allowed to freely reports from inside the country

– Established the Independent Press Council and planned to create the Independent Television and Radio Council as well

– Drafted the Right to Information bill (transfer to the new government)

 

Democratic Reform

– 2010 election was the first step and the 2015 election is to take another step further

– Since then the government has worked to achieved peace, political stability, emergence of inclusive politics, and improvement of citizens’ livelihoods and skills

– The aim is to lay groundwork for the new government to enable the country to be a better place politically, economically, and socially

Our goals were much more expensive and ambitious than winning re-election for USDP or myself. They are greater than one individual or organisation.

Others

– Operating the Human Rights Commissions

– The government’s Anti-Corruption Commission and the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission have been formed

– Moving up the on the Corruption Perception Index: 183 in 2010 to 147 in 2015

– Aiming to make Myanmar the middle income country by 2020, private sector (the main driver of the economy) has been promoted and developed.

– Private sector participation in manufacturing increased to 72.8%, in agriculture to 97.2%, and 83% in services.

– In the international trade, private sector participation grew from 53.16% in 2010-2011 to 65.81% in 2014-2015.

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Sources:

Thank you for reading this. I will post the analysis of this next week.

 

 

 

 

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