It was reassuring to hear President U Win Myint speak about his support for ordinary Myanmar citizens such as civil servants, farmers and students and to address human rights abuses. Too often, politicians speak in general terms about policy, vision, hopes and dreams. But his speech yesterday had ordinary citizens in mind, those who are usually ignored, or who have their basic rights violated, such as detainees and prisoners. In his New Year address, U Win Myint stressed that hard-working civil servants will be taken care of even after they retire. “Among our civil service personnel who are still in active service, there are some who do not have proper housing. I have also noticed that a great number of civil service personnel after retirement are suffering greatly because they do not have housing. That is why our Union Government will work hard on a priority basis so that civil service personnel will have at least a house or an apartment and live in dignity by the time they retire”, U Win Myint said in his New Year’s speech yesterday. The President also said that basic human rights will not be violated, especially for prisoners and detainees. “The Human Rights Commission should endeavour to provide protection to ensure the legal basic rights of individuals, the fundamental rights of citizens and the freedom and security of citizens at interrogation centres, police station lockups, court detention rooms, jails, and hard labour prisoner camps without discrimination. I have already met the Human Rights Commission members and have given instructions to ensure that citizens do not lose their inalienable rights, in other words their fundamental rights. The organizations themselves which are working in the area of human rights should take extra care not to trample upon the fundamental rights and dignity of any individual and to act fairly in accordance with the law”, he said in his speech yesterday. For farmers whose rights to their land have been previously trampled upon, the President expressed support. “I will work for the return of farmlands confiscated illegally and to ensure that compensation has been given, in close consultation with various States/Regional governments based on the findings, remarks and opinions of different levels of committees, formed for the review of farmlands and other lands”, the President said. Perhaps of greater importance, the President yesterday pledged his support for students, the future of the country, who will contribute their efforts towards building a stable Democratic Federal Republic with a thriving economy. “We will focus and work towards having more students in the professional disciplines. Providing opportunities to students from low-income families and poor families to pursue higher education will soon become an important policy for the State. We have to work to ensure that students with abilities get the opportunity to pursue the disciplines for which they qualify. To ensure they get the positions they deserve, we need to improve ways and means for them to study abroad or at home”. As the President noted yesterday in his speech, the march for reform needs to begin with the country’s people, “who are the original owners of sovereign power”.