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Burma must build up armed forces, says President Thein Sein

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – In his inaugural address to Parliament on Wednesday, President Thein Sein called for a build-up and modernization of Burma’s armed forces, while also coming out against corruption.

An image taken off Burma's state-run MRTV shows newly appointed president, former prime minister Thein Sein, center, during his swearing-in ceremony at the national Parliament in Naypyidaw on Wednesday, March 30, 2011. The military handed power to a nominally civilian government after almost half a century of army rule, as the junta was disbanded.  Many analysts believe Senior General Than Shwe will attempt to retain some sort of control behind the scenes.  AFP PHOTO/HO/MRTVHe also hinted at increasing the minimum national wage and spoke out for balancing the protection of the environment with economic interests. 

‘If we neglect the defence of the country, we will face modern destruction’, he told lawmakers. ‘We must bear in mind that the neo-imperialists are eyeing our country, which is crucial both geographically and economically to their intervening and exploiting’.

He called for a powerful, modern army for the defence of the country.

Thein Sein, 66, is a protégé of Senior General Than Shwe, who has resigned his position as commander in chief and who ruled the country by harsh oppressive measures, and who many believe will continue to exercise a powerful behind the scenes influence.

Thein Sein said, ‘If we don’t have a strong army, we will be bullied and mistreated by other countries. Our people had the fine tradition of living with our own kings in our own country for thousands of years. But at the end of Konboung dynasty, we easily fell under the clutches of the imperialists because we lacked a modern army.

‘We must make our current armed forces strong, capable, patriotic and modern by concerted efforts. Every citizen has the responsibility to perform this task’, he said.

Praising the now disbanded military-led State Peace and Development Council, Thein Sein said that the former government reconstructed a deteriorated country and left a good legacy for building a peaceful, modern and developed country. The SPDC was led by former dictator Than Shwe.

Regarding domestic politics, he said that a good foundation in communications, transportation, education, health and economics must be created for the unity of all ethnic people and calls for a dialogue are not enough, which was perhaps a direct reference to the National League for Democracy which issued such a call on Wednesday.

Moreover, he sent a direct message to opposition groups, saying, ‘They must refrain from defaming and disparaging the country among the world’s countries and must refrain from undermining their own fellow citizens.

‘The people will say Sadhu (blessings) if they take power by democratic means through elections. Our government will open doors for them and welcome them’.

In his half hour address, he said that the government would follow a market economy system with limited state intervention.
He seemed to allude to an increase in the state minimum wage and said that the government would work to stabilize commodity prices and create more job opportunities.

He spoke out against corruption and bribery, saying, ‘Corruption and bribery not only undermine individuals but also undermine the dignity of the country and people. So we will fight against corruption with the assistance of the people'.

He spoke at length on environmental protection and said the government would balance economic development and the needs of the environment.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 March 2011 09:21 )  

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