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Shwe Mann renews call for people’s role in government

Using his bully pulpit, the speaker of Burma’s Lower House, Shwe Mann, has renewed his call for the Burmese people to use their elected representatives to move the country toward democratic reform at a faster pace, official media reported on Sunday.

    Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann exchanges greetings with EU Parliament President Martin Schulz. Photo: europarl.europa.euSpeaking to residents in the capital’s Tatkon Township, Shwe Mann said the country has embarked on “a fast track reform” process that requires the Burmese people to play an active role, according to an article the New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper on Sunday. He stressed the importance of the people to express their desires and concerns to their elected representatives.

Shwe Mann, who just returned from a European tour where he met with various lawmakers and observed democratic governments at work, called on the Burmese people, elected representatives and civil servants “to serve their duties with a sense of loyalty, responsibility and benevolence, while urging their elected representatives to always stand by the people.”

In early May, Shwe Mann, visited Norway and the European Parliament, the first ever visit by Burmese officials.

The Burmese delegation included elected lawmakers, members of the opposition National League for Democracy and dozens of Burmese officials who met EU president Herman Van Rompuy and foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Burmese officials have lately been claiming the country has entered a "second-step strategic reform" period, while calling for more effective implementation of national and regional development tasks in the reform process. Since taking office in March 2011, the new civilian government has undertaken a series of reforms covering national solidarity, peace and stability, security and international cooperation. Officials have stressed the need for a clean government without corruption in order to reinforce a multi-party democratic system.

Shwe Mann is being touted as a leading reformer and a likely candidate to replace Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo, 61,who submitted his resignation on May 3 for health reasons after returning from Singapore for medical treatment. Tin Aung Myint Oo, a former four-star general, was one of two vice-presidents, and he was a leader among hardliners in the year-old military-backed government that replaced the often-brutal junta that ruled for half a century, many of whose members are being replaced by the newly elected government of President Thein Sein.

In February, Mizzima reported that Shwe Mann made a significant speech in Parliament including a startling admission of the Burmese government’s past failings – including systemic corruption – and called on Parliament members to pass laws that modernize the government and serve the people.

Sounding like a democratic opposition reformist, the former general gave a blistering critique of the failures of the government, urging lawmakers not to dwell on the past but to bring about reforms and “modern” concepts by listening to the people’s voices at all levels.

The speech was seen as one of the most significant signs yet that the reforms underway by the newly elected government are real and reordering government policies and actions is a work in progress. It was also a notice of responsibility sent to lawmakers that far-reaching reforms must come through policies and laws passed in Parliament. He called for a raise in salaries of government workers in order to help prevent corruption at all levels.

Shwe Mann said government employees across the country in almost all departments routinely take bribes and “grease money” and charge for normal services and documents “because of low salaries.”

Myanmar held parliamentary by-elections on April 1 to fill some 45 open seats and the third session of the parliament came to a close after Aung San Suu Kyi and her party's parliament representatives were sworn into office on May 2.
Last Updated ( Monday, 04 June 2012 13:15 )  

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