Achieving peace and stability in Myanmar

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Articles

In the past few days, newspapers and journals  have been covered with news reports of peace process, national reconciliation , peace and stability; the President’s message to the 43rd Anniversary of the Mon State Day, the State Counsellor’s message to the Academy Awards Ceremony for 2016 and her telecast speech to all the people of the Union and the Commander-in-Chief’s address at the 72nd Anniversary of  Armed Forces  Day  contained  a  lot of pledges  to achieve peace and stability in the country. Furthermore, the State Counsellor personally visited Myitkyina, in Kachin State, one of the war-torn regions in Myanmar and requested Kachin people to unite in securing peace and stability as the incumbent NLD-led government has made the peace process a top priority.
One thing in the above messages is common: peace.
Let us   have a look at the past and present situations of our country in the international community. Myanmar was once one of the wealthiest countries in Asia; but it is no longer in that position now. It is the poorest among the  ASEAN Countries and it was ranked 114 according to the World Happiness Report 2017 which covered 155 countries from around the world and produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in2012. But surprisingly, Myanmar has stood above the United States for three consecutive years in terms of generosity and donation. These results have made us totally confused; but  we can draw a conclusion from above the examples that we have an outstanding characteristic, for better or worse. These occurrences led me think better of our Myanmar people who are greatly in need of  a healthy and strong leadership. The NLD-led Government , which took power on 30 March 2016, has strived to be a government of national reconciliation by trying to end one of the world’s long-running civil wars in the world. After all, the central government in Myanmar and ethnic armed groups have been at war since independence from the British in 1948.
The incumbent Government inherited a peace process by the name of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) from the previous government which initiated the NCA with armed group negotiated teams on 31 March, 2015. The NCA contains basic principles recognizing the territorial integrity of the State ( making clear that separation is unacceptable) committing to principles of democracy and federalism and embracing the diversity of the peoples and cultures in a secular state.
Eight ethnic groups signed the NCA in October, 2015 but at least ten other groups have reservations. Soon after the telecast address by the State Counsellor on 30 March, 2017 five member groups of United Nationalities Federal Council—Karenni  National Progressive Party(KNPP), New Mon State Party(NMSP), Arakan National Council(ANC), Lahu Democratic Union(LDU) and Wa National Organization—disclosed that they would sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
Among the groups which expressed their reservations about the offer is the Kachin Independence Army(KIA) which has steadfastly refused to sign the NCA nor to participate in the peace talks.
The State Counsellor made a telecast address to the nation on 30 March, 2017  focusing on the Government’s performances  during the tenure of a year period. She said that the NLD-led Government is composed of not only of the NLD faithful but includes representatives from various parties. She is firmly confident that the leaders  have the wisdom and capability to choose the right path in fulfilling the needs of their country. That is why she believes that she is hopeful and optimistic for the success of the Second Panglong Conference. The 21st Century Panglong is being implemented by the Union Government under the influence of the State Counsellor’s domestic political stature, huge election mandate and strong international backing . If Myanmar gains a nationwide peace agreement between ethnic armed groups and the incumbent government, then it would be the biggest success in ASEAN for a generation. In addition, National  Security  Advisor U Thaung Tun pointed out that Myanmar is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a forecasted growth rate of 7 per cent a year. The NLD-led Pyidaungsu, Amyotha and Pyithu Hluttaws should remove the outdated laws and the military and other security forces, the defenders of independence, sovereignty  and territorial integrity , are urged to show greater tolerance of public criticism and protest to deal with the inevitable pressures that come with democratization.
There are still a lot of challenges to stability: authoritarian traditions, diverse cultures and religions. At the same time the Government will have to create a decent living standard for the entire population. Narcotraffickings  and drug addition are a cause for concern for continued warfare between the army and the armed ethnic groups along Myanmar’s borders with China and Thailand. A recent communal violence in the Maungtaw region is also a cause for concern. That would be to the detriment of peace and stability in the border areas  with our good neighbour Bangladesh.
If so,one might ask whether we are going to achieve peace and stability in our country. I would say the country is now closer to resolving its armed conflicts than at any time since independence. The State Counsellor said in her telecast address  that neither the people nor the Government acting alone can bring about change and transformation. The Government has the duty to lead and the people will have to follow shouting in unison in accordance with the new slogan”  TOGETHER WITH THE PEOPLE” to achieve national reconciliation. Only when peace and stability is achieved, then we can move on to the next stage of progress and prosperity.

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