Myanmar Democratic Transition Forum to discuss the country’s progress


Myanmar International Convention Center in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: EPA

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Minister of Information Dr Pe Myint are due to headline a ground-breaking three-day forum to discuss the progress and hurdles faced as Myanmar transitions to a full democracy.

The Myanmar Democratic Transition Forum will be held at the Myanmar International Convention Center 2 in Nay Pyi Taw from August 11 through to August 13, according to a press statement by the Ministry of Information.

The forum will bring together more than thirty speakers from the country and abroad on August 11-13, 2017 in an exercise to review the progress towards democracy in Myanmar, the challenges faced and the roadmap for the future.

Organised by the Ministry of Information with support from a host of global and local partners, the conference will be opened by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. After her inaugural speech, Information Minister Dr Pe Myint will lay bare the context in which the “Forum” is being organized, its objectives and what it seeks to achieve.

Several ministers and lawmakers , leaders of civil society groups, media practitioners, business leaders  and veteran civil servants and representatives from Myanmar military will be joined by a number of international participants that includes Indonesian Lt General (retd) Agus Widjojo, former Vice Chairman of the Indonesia and Tentara Nasional Indonesia’s (TNI) Chief of Territorial Affairs and, one of its leading intellectuals.

Ambassadors from India, Norway and Singapore and other diplomats, UN functionaries and leading academics specializing on Myanmar will join the intense deliberations at the Forum.

Six plenary sessions bringing together more than thirty speakers will be followed by as many ‘winding-up’ interactive sessions that will seek out views from a cross section of more than 500 participants that would include special observers from foreign governments and global bodies who support Myanmar’s transition to democracy.

The Forum is seen as both a stock taking exercise in Myanmar’s transition to democracy as to identify the hurdles that confront the complex process and chart out a roadmap for the future.

“The Forum will be the largest review exercise on Myanmar’s democratic process so far,” said U Myint Kyaw, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information, who is heading the organizational effort for the ‘Forum’.

“We are making detailed arrangements for three days of intense deliberations that would be conducted in a free and frank atmosphere.”

At a time when the world is drifting towards intolerant right-wing sectarian regimes and even established democracies are showing signs of erosion of the spirit of democracy, Myanmar is struggling hard to emerge into a functional democracy, leaving behind more than five decades of authoritarian rule.

In the process, it faces many challenges like the one of establishing democratic federalism to ensure inclusive future for the nation’s many ethnic minorities, many of whom have challenged the Union government with force of arms for decades.

The Forum will inevitably focus on the ceasefires and the peace-making processes they seek to herald and two full sessions will be devoted to the issues involved.

One session will focus on the transition from a command economy to a market economy, an important economic corollary to the political transition from authoritarian rule to democracy.

The event will be live streamed on the Ministry of Information’s Facebook (MOI Webportal Myanmar). Updates and news will also be posted to the Ministry of Information’s Twitter (MOI Twitter).

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