Nay Pyi Taw, 2 June—The following is the full text of the monthly radio address delivered by President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein.
My Fellow citizens,
As I have done previously, I would like to give you the monthly update on the work of my government, and the developments that have taken place in our country.
Since my government took office, we have steadily implemented political and socio-economic reforms, and peace building efforts towards national reconciliation. These three areas of reforms are interrelated and interdependent.
Our government has put serious effort into the peace process, and initial agreement has been reached on a draft nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA). Soon, the ethnic armed groups will hold their summit in Lawkheelar, Kayin State to discuss approval of the NCA. Once the NCA is finalized, political dialogue will take place as pledged in the agreement. The objective of the dialogue is to work together in unity to build a Union based on the principles of democracy and federalism that all the nation’s ethnic groups desire. Only then, can we achieve a sustainable peace that benefits this and future generations.
As we systematically develop the socio-economic conditions of the country, we must also undertake political reforms that are in harmony with these conditions. These reforms in particular must be carried out step by step to nurture democratic practices in the whole society as well as in the government, and to improve public services.
When my government took office over four years ago, we embarked on liberalization and reforms starting from the prevailing political situation at that time. We encountered delays and difficulties because transitioning from one system to another means that certain practices of the old system will be incompatible in the new system. No matter the obstacles, we will continue to implement necessary reforms.
In particular, we introduced power sharing between the Union government, and regional and state governments that are the essence of the Constitution’s Union Legislative List (Schedule 1) and Region or State Legislative List (Schedule 2). Our first task was to implement the rights granted by the Constitution. Next, adjustments and amendments were made. Tatmadaw representatives in parliament introduced amendments to Schedule 1 and 2 with the support of members of parliament. Political parties have also made suggestions.
The right conditions must exist for the emergence of a federal-based Union. Therefore, the priority is to amend provisions of Schedules 1 and 2 that benefit residents of the states and regions, and provides for fair revenue sharing. Based on four years of practical experiences, trials, consultations, and advice, draft amendments to Schedules 1 and 2 will be submitted to parliament later this month.
Of importance to governance and other sectors, the 2014 Population and Household Census results were officially released on May 29th. The main benefits of the census, the first in many years, are that accurate numbers are now available for the delivery of public services and policy-making. Voter lists for the upcoming general elections will also rely on these census results.
I would now like to give some information about the establishment of minimum wage. After collecting feedback from labor organizations’ consultations with factory workers, a national-level committee meeting on setting a minimum wage will be held. Once these preparations are complete, decisions on the minimum wage will be made by the end of July.
National reconciliation is of great importance to our nation. Our country has suffered because in the past various political forces and political leaders were unable to reach broad consensus among each other. All of you are aware that taking lessons from this history, I have held meetings of different formats with political leaders. On May 18th, I met with leaders and representatives of political parties to discuss cooperation to ensure the continued success of the peace process, successful holding of the 2015 general elections, and stability in the period before the elections.
If we look ahead to the general elections, I believe the elected representatives will genuinely reflect the desire of the electorate. The election of these members of parliament represents a new political energy – one that will build on the reforms initiated by this government to successfully complete the democratic transition. Therefore, political forces should be prepared for the long-term tasks of nation building, national unity, and peace building. They will need to further develop the culture of negotiations introduced by my government to ensure the emergence of an open, free, and developed nation.
To ensure that the 2015 general elections are free and fair, the government will fully cooperate with the Union Election Commission and other relevant organizations. All levels of the government will diligently, correctly, and transparently implement all election laws, regulations and procedures. I have also been informed that the Union Election Commission is working to ensure accurate voter lists so that all legally eligible voters are able to vote, election results are transparently and accurately reported, and international observers are able to do their work as permitted by law.
Myanmar is responding in a responsible manner to the boat migrants adrift in the Andaman Sea. Although Myanmar must protect its citizens and its sovereignty, our country is also a responsible member of the global community. Therefore, we are working with other countries to offer humanitarian assistance to the boat migrants, and return them to their homes. The root causes of human trafficking and illegal migration are lack of jobs and poverty. Therefore, we are prioritizing poverty alleviation and improving livelihoods for the people living in Rakhine State.
Finally, I would like to urge all political forces and every single citizen to make it their goal to ensure stability during this transitional period before the general elections. As long-term goals, I urge all of you to focus on putting in place the foundation for building a future New Myanmar. In so doing, we must avoid extreme views and passing on the bitter legacy of political and armed conflict to future generations. Instead, it is important that we build upon history’s lessons to create goals that are laudable and constructive.
I would like to conclude by reaffirming my commitment to achieving peace, promoting economic development and building a better future for future generations.