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Who shall we give honour to for the successful transition?


Myanmar's new president Htin Kyaw (L) sees outgoing president Thein Sein (R) leaving after the ceremony to handover the country's presidency to new President Htin Kyaw at the presidential palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 30 March. Photo: EPA/NYEIN CHAN NAING/POOL

President Thein Sein’s administration was transferred to new President Htin Kyaw’s administration on March 30, 2016, at 11:45 a.m. In other words, the first phase of the democratic transition has been successfully accomplished.

Before the November 2015 general election people were sceptical and concerned over whether the election commission had held a free and fair election. And after the election, and the NLD’s landslide victory, people were concerned over whether the military would honour the election result and would President Thein Sein really transfer power to the new administration. Questions were also raised as to what would happen and what changes would be made during the 5-month transition period.

Now this historic transition has been achieved. People can see a duly elected civilian government and there are hopes for a genuine federal union even though the military’s involvement in political affairs still exists.

For this astounding success, we have some people who deserve to be honoured and who we owe our gratitude.

First and foremost the person we should honour is former President Thein Sein. Even before the general elections he affirmed that he would honour the election results which would be held in accordance with the constitution. He reaffirmed he would transfer power to the newly elected president and his cabinet smoothly and peacefully and he has kept his promise. He calmly did his job by successfully transferring the ceremonial golden sash of the president and its power to the new President Htin Kyaw. Moreover, he has left a fine tradition of smoothly handing over power to duly elected governments in the country. So for this we must give our honour to him.

Another one we should give our honour to is Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Since he took his post in 2011, he had done a number of great deeds for the country and the armed forces. He has tried to reform the armed forces which have been accused of violating human rights under previous military regimes. He did his utmost to build peace with ethnic armed organisations under the guidance of President Thein Sein. His most important and historical decision was to honour the election result and to recognise the newly elected government and pledge to cooperate with it in the country’s interest. He did what his predecessors and military dictators could not. Because of his recognition of the new government and the election result, this historic transition has been achieved.

The next is popular leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Previous military dictators drafted the 2008 constitution with the intention of the country being ruled by a dynasty comprised of successive military leaders. Under the constitution, the military-backed party needs just 34% of seats in parliament while other parties need over 67% seats to form the government. An ordinary person cannot overcome this hurdle but Aung San Suu Kyi did and the entire world was stunned and amazed with her landslide victory in the election. Now the power transfer has been achieved.

And last, but not least, it is the Myanmar people who deserve this honour as they have sacrificed their lives, blood and sweat in the democratic and ethnic struggle and voted for Aung San Suu Kyi and her party in the elections. At this historic time of transition, I would like to say we should honour all those people with honours due.

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