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Thread: Politics: Can Malaysia's leaders emulate the Myanmar political reform? - Koon Yew Yin

   
   
       
  1. #1
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    Politics: Can Malaysia's leaders emulate the Myanmar political reform? - Koon Yew Yin

    No! They fail because of their ego and lack of morals.

    Friday, 02 March 2012 14:37
    Can Malaysia's leaders emulate the Myanmar political reform? - Koon Yew Yin

    Written by Koon Yew Yin


    One of the leading papers in the region, The Nation recently conducted an interview with Burmese President Thein Sein's chief political adviser, Ko Ko Hlaing. In that exclusive interview, Ko Ko Hlaing told the Bangkok paper that Myanmar's political reform is irreversible¯ because of the president's strong will.

    He stressed that the specific constitutional provision towards democracy, the Burmese people's taste of new found freedom, and the need for the country to follow the international trend ensured that the reforms would have to proceed.

    In the interview, he also gave an insider's glimpse into the thinking and philosophy of the former strongman who ran of Myanmar for close to 20 years. According to him, senior General Than Shwe, following his resignation as head of state in 2011, was not running the country from behind the scenes as commonly alleged and would not be making a comeback.

    "As a Buddhist, you can understand the mentality of an elderly Buddhist. You should understand also the mind of an old soldier“ which is always the desire to accomplish his mission. After the mission is accomplished, he can take a rest.

    [Than Shwe] had undertaken the responsibilities of the state for a long time, and there were many hardships, pressures and difficulties. He also laid down the conditions of democratic reform “the seven-step roadmap. He is now enjoying his retirement with his grand children."¯

    What was also striking to me was the way that Ko Ko Hlaing responded to the question of whether the military strongman was afraid to be taken to trial by a civilian government.

    Ko Ko Hlaing said: This is a Buddhist country. Forgiveness is our principle. Also, Aung San Suu Kyi and the other opposition leaders, young and old have talked about forgiving, and forgetting the past and trying to do the best for the nation.

    Lessons necessary for Malaysia's own reform

    It may be necessary for me to explain why I am focusing on the subject of Myanmarā€™s political reform road map. In a few weeks on April 1, my own road map for Malaysia contained in my book "Malaysia: Road Map for Achieving Vision 2020" will be launched in Ipoh. The book details can be viewed at the publisher's website shortly.

    At the time that I wrote my book I did not refer to it as the Burmese reform process was still evolving. I also did not understand the situation in Myanmar as I was an outsider with little contact with its system of government.

    During the last few months, that situation has changed dramatically for me. Arising from several visits to the country and my involvement in a development-cum-philanthropic undertaking I am pursuing there, I have been in personal contact with some of Myanmar's top leaders and have been impressed by the remarkable progress of their political reform process as compared with Malaysia's.

    Now that I also have the benefit of this remarkable interview to draw upon in addition to my own personal experience in interacting with Myanmar's leaders, I would encourage all Malaysians especially our political leaders, including Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister Najib Razak and the opposition leaders to read carefully the interview and distil from it the lessons that are necessary for our own political reform process to have any chance of success.

    Deepest meaning of ignorance

    To sum up, some of the lessons from Myanmar for us to follow are:

    > Reform must come from both a top down as well as a bottom up process.

    > Old leaders should give up trying to retain power or maintain influence after leaving office.

    > The ruling party must abide by and not undermine the constitutional provisions to a democracy



    > Media freedom and the end to censorship need to be placed in the forefront of the political reform agenda.

    > Lastly and most importantly, the nation's interests should come ahead of individual or group interest.

    In the Buddhist philosophy, the feeling of a separate "I< which we call ego consciousness is directly related to the strength of ignorance, greed, and hatred.

    The deepest meaning of ignorance is the believing in, identifying with and clinging to the ego, which is nothing but an illusionary mental phenomenon. But because of this strong clinging to ego-consciousness, attachment/desire, anger/hatred arise and repeatedly gain strength.

    This ego and self-interest manifested in the material greed and weakness of leaders needs to be conquered if our country is to survive well.

    Koon Yew Yoon is a prominent civil society leader and one of the founders of IJM Corp. He also reads Malaysia Chronicle
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  2. #2
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    Reform in Burma is irreversible : aide


    There is no mention of how the military junta oppressed the minority groups.



    The Nation
    Rangoon February 29, 2012 1:00 am


    Than Shwe is not like Deng Xiao Ping or Lee Kuan Yew, adviser Ko Ko Hlaing tells Nation Group Editor in Chief Suthichai Yoon

    Burmese President Thein Sein's chief political adviser, Ko Ko Hlaing, says Burma's political reform is "irreversible" because of the president's strong will, the specific constitutional stipulation towards democracy, the Burmese people's taste of new-found freedom, and the need for the country to follow the international trend.

    In an exclusive interview with The Nation, the man known as Burma's "political insider" said he was certain that former military leader Senior General Than Shwe was not running the country from behind the scenes and would not make a comeback.

    "As a Buddhist, you can understand the mentality of an elderly Buddhist. You should understand also the mind of a soldier - which is always the desire to accomplish his mission. After the mission is accomplished, he can take a rest. He [Than Shwe] had taken the responsibilities of the state for a long time and there were many hardships, pressures and difficulties. But he did the best for his country. He built a lot of bridges, roads and dams. He also laid down the conditions of democratic reform - the seven-step road map. He is now enjoying his retirement with his grandchildren," Ko Ko Hlaing said.

    Asked whether Than Shwe may be dictating the government from behind the scenes, the presidential aide said: "As far as I know, he has totally resigned from politics. He doesn't want to be involved in this new set-up. He told some of his colleagues and some senior military officers that he had resigned from politics. He is not like Deng Xiao Ping of China or Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore [who retained considerable power after stepping down from the top political posts]."

    Responding to a question about whether the former military strongman is afraid to be taken to trial by a civilian government, Ko Ko Hlaing said: "This is a Buddhist country. Forgiveness is our principle. Also, Aung San Suu Kyi and the other opposition leaders, old and young, have talked about forgiving and forgetting the past and trying to do the best for the nation."

    National League for Democracy leader Suu Kyi has said she is not clear whether the Burmese military establishment is solidly behind the reform "and until I know that they support the reform fully, I cannot say that the process is irreversible".

    The presidential adviser said Suu Kyi had for a long time been under house arrest and, even when she was in the country, she had been kept in isolation for many years. "It's now only a few months since her release. So, this is the time she is trying to cope with the current situation. It's quite natural that she doesn't fully trust the Myanmar [Burma] military yet."

    "We have faced much turbulence and riots in the past. We don't want to return to the past. The Myanmar government and the people wholeheartedly want a smooth transition. It's a top-down process. We started with a bottom-up approach in 1988 but, during 2004-2011, it was a top-down process. Why? Because we would like to see a very smooth transition. At that time, there was no Arab Spring. But we have to admit that we have had a long history of insurrections and insurgencies. That's why the role of the military was quite significant in our politics," he said.

    Burma at the time was risking disintegration like Bosnia. "The military tried very hard to keep the country intact at the peak of the Cold War between the Eastern and Western blocs. We also had to protect our territorial integrity. It was a very hard time for the Myanmar army. This experience has always haunted the military leaders.

    "That's why the Myanmar military wants to have a role in the political arena, not to dominate the political stage but to take part as an element - as a balancing sector. That's 25 per cent of the seats in parliament. The Indonesian constitution used to have a nearly 40-per-cent military presence in parliament," he said.

    "Every revolution started from evolution," he added. "The military regime [in Burma] back in 1988 had an idea to return power to the people and to build a democratic society, but for many reasons, the process took over two decades."

    Ko Ko Hlaing pointed out that the fall of the Berlin Wall happened in 1989, and that the Tiananmen incident in China took place the same year. But in Burma, the "people's uprising" had broken out in 1988.

    "Actually, Myanmar was a pioneer in the democracy movement. At the time [1988], it was a bottom-up activity. People had suffered social economic hardship for a long time. When the spark occurred, there was an uprising. Unfortunately, there followed anarchy in our country. The defence services of Myanmar had to take responsibility of the state in August of that year. And as soon as the military took power, they promised that one day they would return power to the people. At the time, the political opposition forces were quite nervous and frustrated after the political turmoil. They wanted democracy instantly - within a short time - but the situation was quite chaotic. At the same time, we have many minority groups," he said.

    The presidential adviser explained that at the time, the biggest rebel group was the communist party. The BCP, together with other minority groups such as the KNU (Karen National Union), exploited the political instability by launching huge offensives against the government forces in the remote areas near the Burma-China and Burma-Thailand borders. They were very fierce battles, he said.

    Thousands of lives were sacrificed. Internal security became a problem. So, the military made as their first priority the restoration of stability. In the late 1990s, it was the first time the country had some degree of stability, and some minority groups negotiated peace with the government, he said.

    The military government at the time changed the approach. Successive governments since independence had made many attempts at reaching ceasefire agreements with the minority groups, but they all failed. That's because the government held the position that the ethnic groups must first disarm, but the rebel groups did not believe in this deal, he said, adding that they wanted to keep their arms for their own security. There was no trust between the government and the rebels.

    "Now, the government has changed its position. The rebels can keep their arms while ceasefire agreements are being negotiated - and the government launched development schemes in the rebels' areas," Ko Ko Hlaing said.

    He explained that in the early 2000s, "we had agreements with 17 major ethnic armed groups. In Sri Lanka, they had only one rebel group - the LTTE. They couldn't make a breakthrough. Eventually, the government had to crush them. In Indonesia, they only had the Merdeka, the Aceh freedom-fighters. They had very difficult negotiations for a peace agreement. Here in Myanmar, we had 17 major ethnic armed groups and about two dozen other minor groups, and we managed to reach temporary peace agreements at that time. For the first time, villagers in the remote areas didn't hear any sound of gunshots. That was between the years 2000 and 2003-2004".
    "Once we achieved a certain level of stability, the military government started the reform process. In late 2003, we embarked on a seven-step road map for political reform. By 2008, we completed the drafting of the constitution and held a national referendum. In 2010, we held the first election in 50 years. In March 2011, we had the first elected government in Myanmar. Actually, this president is implementing the plan that had been laid down earlier," the presidential adviser added.
    py

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