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Singapore envoy contributes to Myanmar democracy forum


Singapore envoy to Myanmar Robert Chua. Photo: Min Min/Mizzima

Singapore envoy to Myanmar Robert Chua today called upon all elements of Myanmar society to work for a consensus on the road ahead for the country.

Ambassador Robert Chua sat on a panel today to discuss the international view of Myanmar’s path to democracy.

"It is always better to have a consensus rather than get entangled in endless conflicts or to complain endlessly," Mr Chua told the 'Forum on Myanmar Democratic Transition."

The Singapore envoy called for 'national unity' during the session, which was moderated by Mizzima Editor in Chief Soe Myint.

"To use a football term, let me call for a Myanmar United. You have suffered enough strife and it is time for a peace dividend," Chua said."It is time to initiate a process of national reconciliation."

"Compromise and acknowledgement of diversity is the key to solving Myanmar's decades of conflict," said Norwegian envoy Tone Tinnes. "Mutual respect is important."

But British academic of German origin Soeren Keil said much need to be done to institutionalize democracy in Myanmar.

"Media in Myanmar is not yet fully free, journalists still fear for their lives, many political prisoners still in jail." Soeren Keil said.

"It is not yet clear how a fully democratic Myanmar will look like."

He said: "The challenge remains to build an inclusive political system which combines diverse identities, religions and language groups ."

He lauded the army for initiating the liberalization but said it is now upto democratic elites to take forward the process," said Soeren Keil. " That is the test now."

"NLD (National League for Democracy) deserves everybody's support as the first properly elected government in Myanmar, but they just can’t do what they want," Keil said.

"We have no intention to eliminate the role of Tatmadaw from the political process," said National League for Democracy (NLD) Member of Parliament Phyo Zeyar Thaw.

"But we don’t want to be trapped in the past," MP Phyo Zeyar Thaw said. "Police is trying to reform themselves, but we have to scrap some of the laws that fuel oppression."

Fellow NLD MP Aung Kyi Nyut said he was happy but not satisfied with our achievements. " We sacrificed a lot, so people expect much from us."

"People will judge us from what we have achieved, and media will be involved in that process," Aung Kyi Nyut, Member of Parliament.

Three key features marked the "Forum on Myanmar's Democratic Transition" over the last three days (August 11-13).

  • Speakers insisted that Myanmar should find, what author Dr. Myint Thant-U described as, "homegrown solutions" to achieve democracy in the country.
  • Speakers emphasized on national reconciliation rather than retribution as important to institutionalizing democracy.
  • Speakers insisted on open-door policy towards foreign investment and greater industrialization, but some called for protection of land rights and interests of farmers to keep up the progress in agriculture.
  • Speakers called for open-door policy to foreign investments and engagement with civil society and foreign stakeholders.

Opening the Forum, State Counsellor DawAung San Suu Kyi had called for “democracy with dignity". She advocated a gradual approach, despite admitting that "our neighbours were moving very fast on all fronts." 

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