Neighbours never say “no”

President U Thein Sein has just wrapped up his first-ever visit to neighbouring Thailand
since taking office. The reformist President’s visit to the next-door vibrant economy is to
boost economic prospects as the country has opened up to investments far and wide the
globe.
The President and Thai Premier Ms.Yingluck Shinawatra cleared the doubts that
persist over Dawei Special Economic Zone, showing their unflagging support for multi billion
dollar project being implemented by Italian-Thai Co Ltd. The project is scheduled
to complete by 2018 and will feature steel mills, refineries, a petrochemical complex and power plants.

Bypassing the Malacca Strait, the strategic deep-sea port will shorten the
transportation route to Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
The two leaders agreed to establish connectivity between Dawei Special Economic
Zone in the southernmost part of Myanmar and Laem Chabang industrial estate of
Chonburi seaboard of Thailand.
Another significant agreement sought on the three-day trip is setting up a ministerial level
working group to implement comprehensive economic cooperation between
the two countries. Thailand also agreed to help Myanmar get ready itself for 2014 ASEAN
chairmanship and pursue economic reforms and sustainable development.
Myanmar and Thailand have long-standing economic relations along the course of the
history. Thailand is the second largest foreign investor in Myanmar, second only to China,
the regional economic powerhouse.
The President’s official visit is assumed to be renewal of friendly relations between the
two countries since the good neighbours are a deciding factor behind the development of a
nation.

Posted in News at July 26th, 2012. No Comments.

Know your responsibilities, Know your rights

The second regular sessions of the first Pyithu Hluttaw and the first Amyotha Hluttaw are going on at respective Hluttaw Halls of Hluttaw Building in Nay Pyi Taw. Hluttaw representatives raise questions, reply to queries, present reports and submit bills at the regular sessions.

Hluttaws are bodies with all characteristics and essence of democracy and power sharing among themselves. Hluttaw representatives submit people’s desire as questions, proposals and bills for discussions.

They have the opportunity to raise questions at the Hluttaws in the interests of
their constituencies. Likewise, they may raise queries on emergence of good governance
and clean government and strengthening of judicial body without personal attack.
Hluttaw representatives are to serve the interest of the people and the nation without
sectarism, dogmatism, localism, racism and religionism.

As Hluttaw system is in its infancy as a form of democracy, all the Hluttaw
representatives are the pioneers of the Parliamentary democracy. They must show
good examples for next generations. Taking lessons from the past events, they bravely
and unitedly carry out the tasks that should be undertaken at present.

The main duty of Hluttaw representatives is to create legislation. The executive and
judicial bodies are to follow the laws enacted by the Hluttaw. Putting public interest first,
it is necessary to enact laws on protection of interests of nation and its citizens and protect
rights of citizens, democracy and human rights.

Hluttaw must be efficient and strong. Unity and understanding among Hluttaw representatives is a must. They are to do their best knowing their rights and responsibilities while listening to the voice of Myanmar people.

Posted in Article at June 20th, 2012. No Comments.

Myanmar Nice 10000 Kyat Note

The distribution of new banknote of K 10000 started Friday. Economists foresee subsequent changes in the Myanmar economy. They see the move as the attempt to boost money supply in the market and increase the exchange rate. It is the latest move in a series of attempts to increase the foreign exchange rate including changes in car import policies and monetary reforms. Many believe that farmers, the vast majority of the country’s population, will particularly profit from the change. The rise in price of Myanmar Kyat led to decline in production rate as a result of decreased profitability.

The introduction of new banknote to the market will stimulate the demand and will increase the exchange rate. If with proper distribution, it could become a catalyst for boosting production of the country. The government in office has taken a variety of measures to help the farmers rise above poverty with the commitment to advancing towards the industrialization with the firm foundation in the agricultural industry. Despite some concerns over inflation, local economists are optimistic about the printing of new note. Also, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar insisted recently that the printing of new note has no direct link with inflation.

The Central Bank of Myanmar adopted managed float for Myanmar Kyat starting previous April as a significant step in monetary reforms. In moving towards the industrialized country with vibrant economy, we need further reforms that could help the working class in rural areas earn more incomes and decent livings.

Posted in Article at June 16th, 2012. No Comments.

MYANMAR GAZETTE

The President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has confirmed the appointment of Managing Director U Kyaw Lin of Public Works under the Ministry of Construction on expiry of the one-year probation period. The President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has transferred Director-General U Htay Lwin of the Central Equipment Statistics and Inspection Department under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development as Director-General of the Department of Myanmar Language Commission under the Ministry of Education from the date he assumes charge of his duties. The President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has appointed Director U Tin Htoo of the Central Bank of Myanmar under the Ministry of Finance and Revenue as Director-General of Central Equipment Statistics and Inspection Department under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development on probation from the date he assumes charge of his duties.

Posted in Article at May 28th, 2012. No Comments.

Judgment in Bangladesh-Myanmar Maritime Boundary Dispute

On Wednesday 14 March, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea issued itsjudgment in the Dispute concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar.  The dispute concerned the delimitation of the territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and continental shelves of these two states in the Bay of Bengal.

The Judgment is important in a number of respects. Firstly, it is the first dispute concerning maritime boundary delimitation decided by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.  It therefore gives an indication of the approach of the Tribunal to maritime boundary delimitation compared to other international courts and tribunals.  Secondly, it is the first judgment of an international court or tribunal which directly addresses the delimitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.  The tribunal therefore had to deal with some novel legal issues in its judgment.  The judgment will also be an important point of reference in the on-going dispute between Bangladesh and India concerning their maritime boundaries on the other side of the Bay of Bengal.  The tribunal dealt with the delimitation of the maritime boundary in three different parts: the territorial sea; the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf within 200 nautical miles; and the continental shelf beyond 2oo nautical miles.

In relation to the territorial sea, the Tribunal drew an equidistance line from baselines identified by the parties in accordance with Article 15 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  It found there were no special circumstances which called for moving this equidistance line.

In relation to the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf within 200 nautical miles, the tribunal had been asked to draw a single maritime boundary by the parties.  The Tribunal identified that it was required to draw the maritime boundary in order to achieve an equitable result in accordance with Articles 74 and 83 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The Tribunal decided to draw a provisional equidistance line but it then adjusted this line to take into account the concavity of the Bangladeshi coast.

The Tribunal also decided that “the delimitation method to be employed in the present case for the continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical miles] should not differ from that within [200 nautical miles].” (Para. 455 of the Judgment) As the concavity of the coast continued to have an effect beyond 200 nautical miles, the Tribunal held that the adjusted equidistance line should continue in the same direction beyond the 200 nautical mile limit of Bangladesh until it reaches as area where the rights of third States may be affected.  (see Para. 462 of the Judgment)

So who won the case?  There have already been claims of “victory” in the case.  However, in the context of maritime boundary delimitation disputes, this is probably not an appropriate question to ask.  Throughout its judgment, the Tribunal stressed that the goal of maritime boundary delimitation (beyond the territorial sea) was an “equitable solution.”  Thus, the outcome of any decision is unlikely to be a “winner takes all” scenario.

This is perhaps clearest in relation to the single maritime boundary drawn for the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf within 200 nautical miles.  Bangladesh had argued that the Tribunal should use the angle-bisector method in drawing the boundary, as the equidistance line would, in its opinion, lead to inequitable result.  This argument was rejected by the Tribunal which accepted that the equidistance/relevant circumstances method was appropriate in this case, as had been argued by Myanmar.  Yet, the Tribunal did not fully accept all of the arguments of Myanmar put forward by Myanmar on this point.  The Tribunal stressed that it was not bound by the base points suggested by Myanmar in its proposed equidistance line and the Tribunal added its own base point to lead to a more equitable provisional equidistance line.  Moreover, the Tribunal also rejected the argument of Myanmar that there were no relevant circumstances.  Bangladesh had identified several possible relevant circumstances.  The Tribunal  accepted that it was necessary to adjust the equidistance line to take into account the concavity of the coast.  But it did denied the relevance of the other circumstances, put forward by Bangladesh, including the position of St. Martins Island (subject to the sovereignty of Bangladesh) which was given no effect in the delimitation. (Para. 319 of the Judgment)  The adjustment of the line is largely done at the discretion of the Tribunal, with the Tribunal itself noting that “there are no magic formulas.” (Para. 327 of the Judgment)  Arguably, the final delimitation line for this part of the boundary gives something to both parties.

The equitable nature of the solution is also apparent in relation to the settlement of the boundary beyond 200 nautical miles.  On this point, Myanmar had argued that the Tribunal should not exercise its jurisdiction, but the Tribunal was clear that it had the right to decide on the delimitation, regardless of whether the extension of the outer continental shelf had been approved by the Commission on the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf.  The tribunal also rejected Myanmar’s argument that Bangladesh has no continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.  At the same time, the tribunal rejected the argument of Bangladesh that there was no natural prolongation from the coast of Myanmar because of the geological discontinuity where the Indian tectonic plate meets the Burma tectonic plate about 50 nautical miles from the coast of Myanmar.  In an important clarification of the law, the Tribunal held that natural prolongation refers to the extension of the continental margin and there was therefore no need for geological continuity. (See Para. 437 of Judgment; see also Para. 460) Nor did the Tribunal accept that the geographic origin of the sedimentary rocks had any relevance for the delimitation of the outer continental shelf.  (Para. 447 of the Judgment)  In the end, the Tribunal simply extends the adjusted equidistance line that it had already drawn for the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf within 200 nautical miles.  Again, this solution can be seen as giving something to both parties, but it certainly does not give either of them everything they had asked for.

by [James Harrison]

Posted in Myanmar Local at March 16th, 2012. No Comments.

Farmers seek land bill changes

FARMERS from Ayeyarwady Region have sent a letter to the president and other members of the government and parliament that outlines seven points they believe need to be addressed for rural land reform laws.“In this letter we outlined seven points to include in the Farmland Law. These points are very important for us and we think that they can solve our difficulties,” said U Ohn Kywe, a farmer from Kyaung Su village in Bogale township.

The letter, which was signed by 1421 farmers, was sent on January 21 to the president, speakers of the Pyithu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw, attorney general, hluttaw bill committees, chief minister of Ayeyarwady Region and local Pyithu Hluttaw representatives.

Speaking to The Myanmar Times in Mawlamyinegyun in mid-February, farmers involved in the campaign said that they wanted their recommendations to be included in the Farmland Bill and Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Bill, which are both currently in the process of being amended and approved by parliament.

The letter was the result of a workshop held in Bogale’s Tae Pin Thit village on January 2 and 3 that was attended by farmers from Bogale, Kyaiklat and Mawlamyinegyun townships. Participants shared their thoughts on land use issues and discussed how these could be addressed under new land laws, distilling the issues to seven key points.

These include the right to own farmland; use water resources their land; establish and register farmer associations, access adequate and reasonably priced credit; solve land conflicts through the courts as well as land management committees; sell produce on a stable market; grow the crops of their choice

Myanma Agricultural Development Bank (MADB) provides loans of K40,000 an acre at an interest rate of 2 percent a month but this is not enough to cover paddy production costs.

“It costs me between K150,000 and K180,000 to grow an acre of paddy,” said U Tin Oo of Kanyine Kone village in Kyaiklat township.

“My own capital is K80,000, and I get K100,000 from other sources but interest rates are so high – I have to pay from 7pc to 20pc [a month]. We get K280,000 for 100 baskets, but it is not easy to get 100 basket from an acre. Often it’s only 70 or 80 baskets so when the price is down, after I pay all my debts I have no money left – sometimes I even have to give my land to pay off the loan,” said U Tin Oo, who also signed the petition letter.

U Tint Lwin, a farmer from Kywe Chan Chaung Pyar village in Mawlamyinegyun township, said that while rice specialist companies offered cheap credit they also purchased paddy from farmers at below market prices.

“One of those rice specialist companies made the price unstable while buying paddy from us,” said U Tint Lwin. “Last year, one basket cost K3600 but the companies offered us K3400 … and they cheated us on the weighing system. It is unfair because we also have to pay them interest on the loan.

“We facing so many problems, he said.

“And we cannot stand it any more. We have had bitter experiences for many years. Now we think it’s time to express our feeling and request our rights.”

U Ohn Kywe said that about two-thirds of the country’s population were involved in agriculture, and many were poor farmers trapped in a cycle of debt.

“The government should fulfill these seven points if they really want poverty alleviation.”

Another signatory, U Ohn Myint from Myinkakone village in Bogale, said the group expected at least five of the issues to be addressed in the new laws.

“According to the hluttaw discussion and an interview with U Htay Oo in [local media] we can get five points, except the right to own land and the right to register farmers associations. We also heard we will be able to grow crops we like and we can give back loans [to MADB] until March 31. Even though this has always been the official deadline they used to make us pay back loans at the end of February.”

[Myanmar Times]

Posted in Myanmar Local at February 28th, 2012. No Comments.

NMSP and peace representatives of the government to meet again

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) will meet with peace representatives of the Burmese government again on February 25, according to a decision announced after a recent emergency Central Committee meeting of the NMSP.

Preliminary agreements reached during the meeting of February 1 have been reassessed by the central committee, and to officially confirm those agreements, the NMSP has decided to meet again with representatives of the government.

“It is sure that the peace agreement will be signed at this time. The NMSP has already decided to sign the agreements,” said Nai Tin Aung, leader of the Mon Peace Agency.

Vice Chairman of the NMSP Nai Rot Sa, Central Committee Member Nai Tala Nyi, Tavoy District President Nai B’nyair Lay, Thaton District Secretary Nai Aye-Ka, and fifteen other party members will join the meeting. Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) Lieutenant Colonel San Aye will participate in place of Moulmein District Secretary Nai Aye Mon, who will miss the meeting for health reasons.

Leaders of the NMSP will leave their headquarters on February 23 to travel to meet the government representatives at the Strand Hotel of Moulmein where the previous meeting was held, according to the NMSP.

Nai Soe Myint said, “We’ve already informed the government. They replied that they will meet with us on February 25. This time, three more representatives will be added from the government side.”

State-level peace team leader Minister U Aung Min, Ministry of Industry and President of the Industrial Development Committee U Soe Thein, the Minister for Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power-1 (MEP-1) U Zaw Min, the Minister of Home Affairs U Khin Ye, Second Minister of Border Issues General Zaw Win, and Burma’s Chief Justice U Tun Tun Oo will represent the government.

The NMSP held a five-day emergency meeting from February 18-22 to decide whether to accept the preliminary agreements or not, and when to meet again with the government representatives.

During the meeting of February 1, the following five points were preliminarily agreed to:
1. To develop a ceasefire.?2. NMSP must assign an official team to negotiate with the government’s Peace Agency, including the task of negotiating locations, dates and times of said meetings.?3. NMSP must obtain a communications office in a location agreed upon by both parties. Further, arms must not be stored in this location.?4. NMSP is not to travel with arms to areas outside of designated areas.?5. NMSP is to be based in areas that both parties agree upon.

The NMSP previously signed a ceasefire agreement with the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in 1995, but the agreement collapsed in 2010. However, a new ceasefire agreement will officially be signed on February 25.

[from bnionline.net]

Posted in Myanmar Local at February 27th, 2012. No Comments.

In Myanmar’s Kachin hills, Suu Kyi stirs hopes of peace

Myitkyina, Myanmar – Developing Myanmar will be impossible without peace in restive areas of the country, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday in a region where fighting has raged since June between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels.Suu Kyi, the 66-year-old Nobel Peace laureate, is seen as pivotal to Myanmar’s nascent transition to democracy after five decades of military rule, and some believe she is the only figure who can unify one of Asia’s most ethnically diverse countries and resolve the conflict in Kachin state.

“Development is impossible without peace,” she told cheering supporters in the state capital, Myitkyina, where she is seeking to build support for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party ahead of April 1 parliamentary by-elections.

The symbolism of the Nobel Peace laureate’s visit to Kachin state goes well beyond the election.

The conflict in the Kachin hills near the Chinese border represents one of the last hurdles between Myanmar and a largely sanctions-free relationship with the West.

“The ethnic minorities believe that she is probably the best person available to be part of the reconciliation process,” said a Western diplomat. “She’s got the respect of the ethnic minorities.”

The government, under President Thein Sein, has released hundreds of political prisoners, re-engaged with Suu Kyi after she was kept under house arrest for much of the past two decades, and appears to want free and fair by-elections a year after a nominally civilian parliament took office.

This week, the government reacted with uncharacteristic speed to a complaint from the NLD about campaigning regulations, which they swiftly changed.

The United States and European Union, which maintain economic sanctions on Myanmar in response to human rights violations, are openly discussing lifting the measures if progress toward democracy and human rights continues.

“Everything else is going to plan except the situation in Kachin state,” said a Myanmar-based aid consultant who declined to be identified.

HOLDING OUT

In Kachin state, many see Suu Kyi as their last hope.

At a Buddhist monastery sheltering villagers who fled the fighting, Than Nu, has a message for the long-detained opposition leader affectionately known as “Auntie Suu.”

“We want to tell Auntie Suu that we want her to bring a peace agreement as quickly as she can,” Than Nu, 46, said.

At a rally on Thursday in the town of Mogaung, about 40 miles outside Myitkyina, Suu Kyi excited the crowd with a plea for peace and unity in the country also known as Burma.

“The lack of peace in Kachin state is a sad condition not only for Kachin but also for the whole country,” she told supporters packed on to a dusty soccer pitch.

The Kachin rebels, many of whom are Christian, are the last of Myanmar’s many ethnic minority factions battling the army. Eight months of fighting have forced as many as 60,000 people into nearly 80 camps, like the one where Than Nu and her family were living, according to aid group estimates.

The new civilian government has reached ceasefires with other armed groups including Karen rebels based near the border with Thailand, and the Shan in the northeast.

But the Kachin are holding out for more than a ceasefire. They say they gained little in the way of autonomy from a 1994 ceasefire deal that collapsed in June. Several rounds of peace talks with the new government have been inconclusive.

“The government doesn’t want to talk politics, just ceasefire and development, but that is meaningless for the ethnic people,” said a prominent Kachin Christian leader in Myitkyina, who declined to be identified. “All the ethnic people want a federal system,” he said in his church office.

And this is where some pin their hopes on Suu Kyi. Sixty-five years ago this month, when she was not yet two years old, her father, independence leader General Aung San, signed a deal with the Kachin and two other ethnic groups that granted “full autonomy” in internal administration.

But the deal, known as the Panglong Agreement, died when Aung San was assassinated in Yangon five months later.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Suu Kyi is running for a seat in parliament herself in a district near Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, and is virtually guaranteed victory. There is talk she might take up a government post, perhaps leading ethnic reconciliation efforts.

“This is an unfinished legacy of her father,” said the Western diplomat. “I think she recognizes that it is going to be a central challenge for Burma.”

Indeed, the significance is not lost.

“If we want to develop our country, firstly we must have internal peace. The basis of internal peace is understanding each other, trusting each other, respecting each other. In short, this is the ‘Panglong Spirit’. I believe that we must have domestic peace with the ‘Panglong Spirit’,” she said.

What exactly that means in practice or how it will play out is unclear. But in Kachin state, it was a welcome message.

“Peace is the main thing our country needs,” said Sai Khon, a 23-year-old Kachin woman at one of the rallies.

But, for now, fighting goes on.

Thein Sein has called several times for the army to stop attacking the rebels but in an apparent sign of limits to his power, the clashes continue.

Ultimately, reconciliation with minorities could hinge on change to the constitution, drawn up under army supervision, which is not clear on any autonomy under a federal system.

“The fighting could go on a long time,” said the Kachin Christian leader. “There is a little bit of hope in Suu Kyi. If she takes a leadership role we will see a change. The Myanmar issue is not democracy. The Myanmar issue is ethnic affairs.”

(Editing by Jason Szep and Robert Birsel)

Posted in Myanmar Local at February 26th, 2012. No Comments.

Agence France Presse: Freed Myanmar blogger pushes ‘people’s voice’

Yangon — Aside from an emotional reunion with family and friends, Myanmar blogger Nay Phone Latt knew exactly what he wanted to do after his release from prison: get back online.It was a bold move, given that his Internet activities landed him a two-decade jail term back in 2008 under the former military regime.

“There are so many friends online who supported me via my blog,” said the 32-year-old, a few weeks into his newfound freedom. “So what I wanted to do when I was released was to go online and post a new post.”

He made his name through political commentary and poetry on his blog, which he set up to avoid strict press censorship and which soon became an important source of news on isolated Myanmar for the outside world.

He was among activists rounded up for their links to the “Saffron Revolution” monk-led protests against the junta in 2007, and believes he was punished for both his blogging and support for opponents of the generals.

His sentence was later reduced to 12 years and cut short in January, when the new government released hundreds of political prisoners — one of a series of reforms sweeping the country.
“To frighten the other bloggers and other IT-related youth, they sentenced me to so many years,” he told AFP, in English, over a cup of coffee in his hometown of Yangon, which is dotted with popular Internet cafes.

While detained in his own country, Nay Phone Latt was feted from abroad, winning the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in New York for showing the “strength of the creative spirit” in the face of repression.

Specific accusations against him included storing caricatures of the junta chief, found in his email inbox, and giving out CDs of performances by a satirical entertainment troupe.

“I don’t know what crime I have committed, I really don’t know that,” said Nay Phone Latt, who also owned and ran two cyber cafes before his arrest.

The authorities, he added, hated bloggers and “did not understand the Internet and technology”.
The years he spent in jail were a critical time for Myanmar, after almost half a century of draconian army rule.

In late 2010 the country held its first election in 20 years, widely criticised by the West as neither free nor fair, and early last year the junta dissolved itself and handed power to a new government.
It was dubbed as a transfer to civilian rule, yet Myanmar’s parliament is dominated by the military and its allies and the new president, Thein Sein, was formerly a general and prime minister in the junta.

So few were expecting the impressive series of reforms that he has ushered in over the past year.

Along with the mass release of political prisoners such as Nay Phone Latt, the regime has made progress towards peace with ethnic minority rebels, and the opposition party of Aung San Suu Kyi has been allowed back into the mainstream.

“I don’t think that they will turn back again,” said the blogger.

“They cannot change their uniform to the military so easily, so they want to go on, but this progress can slow and stop. This all depends on all of the people in our country”.

A former member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, the blogger is glad to see the party’s figurehead, detained herself for much of the past 23 years, running for office in by-elections in April.

“We need to amend so many nonsense laws and we also need to amend the constitution, so Daw Aung San Suu Kyi intends to do that,” he said, using a term of respect to refer to the Nobel laureate.

Nay Phone Latt is especially keen to see reform of Myanmar’s legislation on Internet use, the Electronic Act, which has been described by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders as “one of the most liberticidal laws in the world”.

He has no plans to become a politician himself, but neither does he intend to keep quiet as he tastes his new freedom, despite his ordeal behind bars.

His plans include furthering IT education in rural Myanmar, where many are still without access to the Internet, and publishing a book of “so many articles, letters and short stories and poems I have written in the prison”.

The recent political changes are being felt online. Internet connections are often still painfully slow, but websites of the opposition and exiled media groups that the government once tried to block are now freely available.

“There’s no more ban on the political websites,” Ye Htut, director general of Myanmar’s Ministry of Information, told AFP.

For Myanmar’s reform to keep momentum, citizens must keep on speaking out — “now they are listening to the people’s voice”, said Nay Phone Latt.

“They have got to give freedom of expression, so we need not be afraid of anything,” he said. “We have to say loudly and we have to say freely and we have to say bravely”.

[from burmanet.org]
Rachel O’Brien

Posted in Myanmar Local at February 25th, 2012. No Comments.

People, army should work together

Burma’s army needs to be closer to the general public, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told supporters in Hlegu Township, Rangoon Division, on Wednesday, as she continued campaigning ahead of April 1 by-elections.Speaking to an audience that included members of the armed forces and their families, Suu Kyi said that her National League for Democracy (NLD) wants the military and the people of Burma to join hands to bring about democracy in the country.

“I hope our supporters in Hlegu Towhship include many families from the army. Let’s join hands together, the army and the people, for democracy,” Suu Kyi told the assembled crowd.

Urging Burma to move beyond the winner-take-all politics of the past, Suu Kyi said that democracy allows people to have different opinions, but requires all parties to settle their differences by peaceful and nonviolent means.

She added that during elections, political parties should not treat each other as enemies but as opponents. The election-winning party should be considerate and generous to other parties, and the latter should also be able to accept the election result and congratulate the former, she continued.

“We have to bear in mind that our opponents are helping to make democracy flourish. Democracy only works when there is an opposition. Without opposition, there cannot be true democracy,” Suu Kyi stressed.

She said that by contesting all 48 vacant constituencies in the coming by-elections, the NLD will officially become a democratic opposition party

“Although this is a small number of seats in Parliament, we are competing for them in the spirit of democracy. We can only build up our capacity to actually lead the country by having the courage to act as the opposition. Political forces that dare not oppose or stand as minority opposition parties will not be able lead the country with genuine leadership skills,” she said.

She added that the NLD’s focus in the current campaign is to promote the rule of law, achieve internal peace and amend the Constitution.

“From 1990 to 2012, we had to struggle a lot. But we feel it was worthwhile, because now we can be in touch with our people again. A window of opportunity has opened so that we can build the country we desire by combining our strength and that of the people. However, this path has just opened and we need the people’s support and votes to continue our journey,” she said.

Phyo Min Thein, a former political prisoner who took part in Burma’s 1988 pro-democracy uprising, will stand as the NLD’s candidate in Hlegu Township.

Suu Kyi’s latest trip on the campaign trail did not go entirely smoothly.

On Tuesday, the day before Suu Kyi was to arrive in Hlegu, local authorities revoked permission to use a football pitch for a planned campaign rally. However, the problem was resolved after the party complained about the decision to the Union Election Commission (UEC).

“The UEC rightly decided that we could continue as planned because we had already been granted permission. That’s why we can gather today. That is the rule of law,” said Suu Kyi.

[from burmanet]

Posted in Myanmar Local at February 17th, 2012. No Comments.