Published on Sunday, 09 June 2013 11:00
President Thein Sein delivered a keynote address to Young Global Leaders at the Thabin Hall of the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw on June 5th to discuss Myanmar’s current political and economic reforms.
Myanmar is currently hosting the 22nd World Economic Forum on East Asia for the first time marking a historical moment for the country as it begins engaging with the international community after years of isolation.
"Myanmar is hosting the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit at a time when the country is trying to leave its isolated past behind and become an active and responsible member of the international community," said the President in his speech.
The President explained to the audience many of the challenges of democratic reforms and the difficulties of reforming key institutions after 60 years of military rule. He emphasised the importance of including all stakeholders in the process.
"Thanks to these reform efforts, we are setting up a more transparent and inclusive political process. We understand that changing the political system alone is not sufficient for a successful democratization process. We have to let the political culture and values grow within our citizenry as a whole in order to be able to foster our democracy," said the President.
He also highlighted the importance of reaching durable peace with various ethnic armed groups as an essential part of the reform process.
"Our Peace Building Process is one of the most essential ingredients for the success of our political reforms. We have come a long way with the ethnic armed groups, further than our predecessors, and are confident that we will be able to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement together with all the armed ethnic groups," he added.
Among the diverse audience were Ministers, departmental heads, and young leaders from around the world. The Network of Young Global Leaders comprises of outstanding young leaders from more than 78 countries in the world who meet to discuss solutions for various global challenges.
The President also commented that many analysts of Myanmar's reforms tend to confine their focus on the role of constitutional reform and elections and don't emphasise the ultimate goal of improving people's standard of living and the necessity of basic services.
"We think it is crucial we give more attention to helping our fellow citizens have a decent livelihood and overcome the hardship they experience in their daily lives. We are trying to the best of our ability to make sure that people who do not have access to education, health care, safe drinking water and electricity now have access to such basic services," he said.
Myanmar geographically sits at the crossroads between the growing global powers of India and China and this strategic position is important to link Myanmar to growing markets in the Asian region.
"With China to our northeast, India and Bangladesh to our west, the other nations of ASEAN to our south and east, we border more than two billion people and the fastest growing markets in the world. Our country, once isolated not just by politics but by physical barriers, is now poised to break those barriers. We are becoming the door to Asia," said the President.
Myanmar’s hosting of the World Economic Forum coincides with its recent reform efforts as it attempts to re-integrate into the world community and cooperate with other nations on global issues such as climate change, disease, poverty and terrorism.
The President highlighted the objective of the current political and economic reforms were to create a brighter future and prosperity for the people of Myanmar.
"It is not exaggerated to say that the positive changes brought about by our reforms can now be seen and felt, not just by our citizens but by you all as well. You will also see that our people are now enjoying the fruits of these positive changes," said the President in his closing remarks.
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