Paper by civil society organisations read at 2018 International Democracy Day ceremony

KYS 1858 copy
Ma Thin Nwe Soe.

Mingalaba to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw speakers, Pyithu Hluttaw Speaker, Deputy Speakers of Hluttaws, officials from international organisations and guests. This is the fourth time civil society organisations (CSOs) are attending the Democracy Day event organised by Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. I would like to thank Pyidaungsu Hluttaw for inviting CSOs and is honoured to read a paper by CSOs.
While Myanmar is in transition towards democracy, the Democracy Days are an opportunity for us to reflect on the progresses we had. We CSOs, would like to reiterate again that establishment and development of democracy and national unity is most important for all of us.
As democracy is established/developed, all nationals will become brotherly and sisterly while having individual roles to play.
The challenges CSOs currently face are not having wide views and fully understanding the division of duties in the roles CSOs had to play in establishing, strengthening and developing democracy.
Government need to accept this, recognize the important role of CSOs in Myanmar’s political transition process and raise political transparency and democracy practices. Enacting of the most importantly required Association Registration Law in 2014 made the CSOs happy and excited. But implementing of that law is becoming a challenge. It is freedom of speech and freedom of association. CSOs face much difficulties and delays in registering. As such CSOs are reviewing the implementation of this law and the outcomes (of the review) and reality at the grass root level will be submitted to the policy makers and the government. News media are considered as an important fourth pillar that provides news and information to the government. In addition to this, news media are the one that strengthens the political processes by distributing news and information to the people. Therefore, media freedom needs to be protected and Communication Law section 66 (d) need to be reviewed and amended.
CSOs recognize that development is important for sustainable success that benefits all the people and progress in the in-country reforms.
CSOs understand the role they have to play and participate for the country’s development and are searching for ways to monitor the effectiveness of development supports and assistances. In addition to these ways for CSOs to participate not only in the country but onto the world stage is being made. CSOs welcome the formations of DACU (Development Assistance Coordinating Unit) in early 2017 because it was formed with the aim of reducing poverty and using development assistance fully and effectively. The unit formed SCGs with relevant donor organisations, INGOs (international non-government organisations) and CSOs, in which CSOs are enthusiastically participating in it. As Myanmar has drawn up and approved long term development project 2018-2030 as well as approved 2018 development assistance policy, assistance will be effective and sustainable development goals will be fulfilled. If CSOs are permitted to participate with other relevant organisation in this as partner organisations it will be more effective and sustainable.
Together with the country’s democracy transition, CSOs are transiting from humanitarian works to development works starting from 2013. Although CSOs are participating in humanitarian works, its participation in development works is few. Much humanitarian assistances are required in Kayin State and Bago Region that are facing natural disasters. CSOs are helping in this together with government and private organisations. Only when the role of the CSOs are raised, can the requirements of vulnerable groups of women, disabled, child, youth, ethnic nationals SOGIE (Sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) will be understood.
Peace process is the priority work of the government at the moment. We all need to be aware that participation of all, interconnection and mutual trust are essential requirements. We are glad and happy for the recognition and roles afforded to the CSOs in the peace process. However, CSOs are still considered as outer rims. Therefore, the government is urged to permit the participation of CSOs and women in the peace process in a more meaningful way.
We commend and recognize the distinct success of Anti-Corruption Commission formed by the present government. According to Asia and Pacific region norms, Myanmar stands at 67.58%. But there still remain many challenges.
Engagements between union level government departments and CSOs for anti-corruption is positive but at the state/region and lower level there remains challenges such as lack of mutual trust and inconsistencies in the work processes. Myanmar National Human Rights Commission was formed to promote and protect rights of the nationals under the 2018 Constitution. People’s enthusiastic participation need to be obtained to be in accordance with the theme of this year’s International Democracy Day, “Assist and guide for sustainable democracy.” The importance of ICCPR (international covenant on civil and political rights) is recognized and Myanmar is urged to endorse and sign the resolution. Only then can the people conduct political and economic matters in a dignified way and without violating their human rights.
Democracy is people leading the works that are based on their beliefs. Due to this, people need to participate and guide political processes. Therefore, we earnestly request the government to value the voices of the people and to work as friends of the people in the democracy process.
CSOs together with other participants in maintaining and defending democracy society will ensure that voices of the people are heard by the legislators, and pledges again to work with other differing peoples and organisations towards establishing democracy and nation construction.

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