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.
I hope citizens were able to enjoy the Thingyan holidays through its festivals, religious merit making, and relaxing with family and friends. At the same time, I thank security, health, and fire personnel that were on duty throughout the holidays ensuring our safety. I begin this month’s radio address with the hope that we can focus the positive energy of the season into the New Year.
A development in April was a meeting between the government, parliament, Tatmadaw, political parties, and ethnic leaders and representatives. Within a few days of this meeting, and at the urging of the Union parliament, six party talks were held. These meetings are consistent with my message that discussions of different formats with national leaders would be held to advance democratic reforms and national reconciliation. The aim is to achieve better understanding among political leaders with important roles in the national reconciliation process, taking lessons from past failures to reach broad agreement. The most important goal of these meetings was to discuss the need for mutual understanding and cooperation among political leaders, despite their different viewpoints and positions, to ensure the success of democratic reforms, national reconciliation, peace process, and the historic 2015 general elections. Examples from other countries show that as elections loom, the political temperature and public expectations rise. Under these heightened conditions and during this period before the elections, it is crucial for there to be political stability. At the same time that political leaders are cooperating to maintain political stability and preparing for peaceful general elections, I urge citizens to act with the spirit of unity, patience, and forethought to ensure the success of this defining moment in our nation’s history.
A milestone was reached in the peace process when the Union Peace Work Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) signed a draft nationwide ceasefire agreement, an event that I attended. The NCCT will now submit the draft agreement for consideration by the ethnic leaders at the next ethnic summit. My government is ready to finalize the nationwide ceasefire agreement, and is waiting for the outcome from the ethnic summit.
The complex nature of the peace process means that the road to lasting peace is a long one. As examples in other countries show, it is difficult to achieve peace within a single term of an elected government. My government’s objective is to leave a foundation for the next government to build on— one where there is no more fighting and political dialogue has started. All parties have accepted that the only way to resolve armed conflict is through a political solution. Therefore, we are trying our best to begin political dialogue as soon as possible.
Since my government took office, one of the priorities has been poverty reduction and improving the livelihoods of those living in the rural areas. In this regard, I have not only laid down policies but also visited remote parts of the country to personally inspect development projects. In April, I visited Homalin and Hkamti townships in Upper Sagaing, a place where few national leaders have visited due to logistical and environmental reasons. I am honored to be the first standing president to visit this area.
The 2015-2016 national budget was released in April, and will take effect in May. According to the Constitution, the government has to prepare the annual budget, and Parliament only passes the budget after analysis, debate, and making necessary adjustments. These actions strengthen the budgetary process, and are examples of the checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches. Once Parliament approves the budget, media will disseminate details of the budget to the public. The democratic process of checks and balances, debate, and transparency ensures that the annual budget— primarily funded from public taxes—reflects the needs and desires of the people.
I also attended the Bandung Conference in Indonesia – an event that is of historical significance for Myanmar. Myanmar was one of the five organizers of the original Asian-African Conference of 1955 at Bandung, together with India, Pakistan, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Indonesia. This conference led directly to the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement. Myanmar’s Prime Minister at the time U Nu played a key role in making the conference possible and making it a success. U Thant acted as secretary to the conference.
This was a high-mark in Myanmar’s international diplomacy. I believe we must reach that high-mark again. My government are working hard to ensure good relations with all global powers and all nations. We will seek not only to protect and promote Myanmar’s interests. But we will also seek to make a positive contribution in international efforts to address global challenges.
At the conference, I urged continued cooperation between the countries and peoples of Asia and Africa based on the Bundung Conference’s aims of unity, friendship, and cooperation. Myanmar maintains friendly relations with all countries, and at the same time, seeks to protect and promote our interests. Additionally, our country adheres to the UN Charter, and is a responsible member of the world community.
This year is an important one for the ASEAN countries, and at the 26h ASEAN Summit and 12th ASEAN Leadership forum in Malaysia that I attended, the leaders discussed establishment of a People-Oriented and People-Centered ASEAN community. This effort will require increased engagement between the peoples, businesses, and institutions of the region, and will place a high value on education, skills, global competitiveness of businesses, and creativity. I urge our citizens to be prepared for these opportunities.
Also in April, at the invitation of the United Nations Secretary-General, a government team led by Union ministers attended the Partnership Group on Myanmar meeting in New York City. Member States supported the reform efforts of Myanmar in the areas of democratization, socio-economic development, and national reconciliation. The majority of members also backed the view that the submission of a draft resolution on Myanmar’s human rights record was no longer needed, and this decision would send a clear signal of support for the country’ reforms. I welcome their supportsince this will energize andbring practical benefits not only for human rights but also reforms in all sectors.
I was especially saddened to hear about the devastating earthquake in Nepal. The threat of natural disasters is increasing, and could impact humans anywhere. Our country suffered its own natural disaster – Cyclone Nargis – from which the affected are still recovering today. A glimmer of light in tragic time like these is the outpouring of support and human kindness. Humanitarian aid is being delivered to Nepal, and Myanmar is doing its part to send vital aid.
It is undeniable that democratic reforms that were initiated since my government took office have brought positive developments to our nation, and as a result, our nation has received recognition and respect from the global community. I am honored to serve as your president during these momentous times. However, these positive developments would not be possible without the dutiful contributions of political leaders, political parties, Tatmadaw, civil society, and citizens. I believe our democratic reforms will succeed because of this collective support.
I stress again that the 2015 general elections will be a defining moment for our democratic transition. Therefore, I urge political forces and citizens to do what they can to ensure the successful holding of these elections, and the success of the democratic reforms. I also pledge to do my utmost to achieve our goals.
I would like to conclude by reaffirming my commitment to achieving peace, promoting economic development and building a better future for future generations.
My Fellow Citizens,