NCA is more than a document

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The following is the monthly radio speech delivered by President U Thein Sein on 6 October.

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.
Soon, an important next phase of the peace process, for which the whole nation has been expectantly waiting, will begin. However, I was informed that some ethnic armed organizations have concerns. For this reason, I met with leaders of ethnic armed organizations in Nay Pyi Taw on September 9th to explain political guarantee matters that could be facilitated by the government.
I want to stress that the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) is more than just a document. Its value is the trust built over the many months by representatives of the Union government and ethnic armed organizations carefully negotiating every word and paragraph of the agreement.
The main objective of the NCA then is to leave the door open for participation in the peace process. I am aware that some ethnic armed organizations are currently not ready to sign or they require more time to make their decision. Our government has no desire to leave anyone behind in the peace process. This past Union Day, the government, parliament, ethnic armed organizations, and political parties signed a pledge to sign the NCA before the general elections and proceed with its implementation. Therefore, the government will sign and implement the NCA with the ethnic armed organizations that are ready to sign. I also note that the door is open for organizations currently not ready to sign to participate in the peace process when they are ready.
A major challenge in the aftermath of the recent natural flooding disaster is the rehabilitation work. Recovery from the loss and damage suffered in one day can take several years. The government will quickly restore, and improve upon, damaged basic infrastructure using international assistance and other funds.
However, recovery from the mental loss of family, friends, and sentimental belongings cannot be achieved immediately. Therefore, over the past few months while rescue and recovery work was ongoing, I traveled to flood-affected areas and met personally with flood victims to offer my support.
On September 23rd, I traveled to the towns of Tiddim and Hakha in Chin State to speak with local residents and delivered necessary assistance. Everywhere I went, I explained plans to rehabilitate public services, livelihoods, and respond to other local needs. On September 24th, a needs assessment workshop was also held to discuss all-round strategy for post-disaster recovery of flood-affected areas in cooperation with the World Bank.
A country’s traditional arts best reflect that society’s heritage and national identity. In diplomacy, traditional arts can also play an ambassadorial role. Developed countries also use films and music to raise their nation’s image internationally.
When I met with artists, musicians, and performers at an event last year, I asked how the government could help to promote the arts. As a result, space for movie studios is now being secured, and on September 14th, I attended the ground breaking ceremony of the Myanmar Art Center in Yangon. I wish to see artists’ talents being used to promote the creativity of Myanmar society and the development of the nation. I would like to urge artists to recognize the important roles they play in Myanmar society, and use their art and talents to foster a better future for our country.
The 2015 general elections will soon be held. I expect that the public is excited about the choices, decisions, and the future. I have been informed that the Union Election Commission (UEC) is endeavoring to ensure voter list issues are resolved, and that citizens are able to exercise their right to vote. In this regard, I would like to especially acknowledge civil society for working with the UEC to safeguard the right to vote. During the campaign and election period, civil society will play an important role in observing the conduct of the elections and working with the UEC to ensure the successful holding of free and fair general elections.
Citizens should check voter lists, and report any inconsistencies with the relevant UEC office. Only with help from citizens will there be more complete and correct voter lists. I believe issues with the voter lists will be overcome with the cooperation of voters, relevant organizations and the UEC. The government will also offer assistance.
The 2015 general elections is a vital turning point in Myanmar’s democratic reforms. There have been challenges such as with voter lists and in other areas due to the country’s inexperience holding elections. Despite these difficulties, I believe these elections will truly reflect the choices of the electorate. For this to happen will depend greatly on the political parties and candidates that are contesting the elections. As they strive to successfully contest the elections, political parties and candidates should comply with rules, regulations, codes of conduct, and conduct themselves with the spirit of mutual respect and understanding. The results of the elections must also be respected with sincerity and good faith.
Because of the importance of these elections, I urge citizens to carefully consider the qualities, qualifications, character, attitude and objectives of the candidates before casting their votes.
Since my government took office, we have undertaken democratic reforms, in particular improving governance mechanisms. In addition to elected legislative and executive branches, Township Development Support Committees and Municipal Affairs Committees were formed with democratically elected “town elders” to improve participatory governance.
In order to foster effective and responsible public service delivery, joint offices were opened. Capacity building of civil servants was undertaken, public salaries were raised to competitive levels, and the needs of civil servants were addressed. Improvements were also made to ensure cooperation between the Township Development Support Committees and Municipal Affairs Committees.
Within the next five years, the administration of township and city affairs will transfer to democratically elected Township Councils and City Councils. In order to facilitate this change from administration by government departments to a citizen governance mechanism, appropriate constitutional amendments will be made. Only through a “civilian governance mechanism” will the needs of the community be met.
I am committed to achieving internal peace, improving livelihoods, and ensuring better lives for future generations. By learning from past experiences, I firmly believe we will sustain these processes, accomplish democratic reforms, and overcome the challenges facing our country. I conclude this month’s radio address by reaffirming my pledge to work towards a better future for our country.

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