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The National League for Democracy (NLD) is currently in the process of forming a government following its landslide victory in the 8 November elections. The outgoing Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government is part of a bipartisan committee with the NLD representatives that discusses the upcoming transfer of political power.
Few details have been released so far, however, on the members of the future NLD government or its policies. The NLD is treading carefully in order to ensure a smooth transfer and appease the military, which retains considerable political powers under the 2008 Constitution.
Last week, Myanmar Now reporter Htet Khaung Linn visited the NLD’s Rangoon headquarters to interview party spokesperson and Central Executive Committee member Nyan Win about the power transfer and the policies and reform plans of the future government.
Question: How are the discussions on the transfer of power with the USDP government progressing?
Answer: I was not involved in the discussions. However, I learnt the process is going well. I do not mean both sides have reached agreements on all the issues, (but) I just mean there is no serious deadlock in the discussions.
Q: Does the NLD have plans to select USDP members and incumbent government officials as members in the upcoming government?
A: We cannot say anything about this at the moment. But what we can say now is that our government will focus on democracy and human rights, protection of our citizens and the rule of law.
Q: Some persons assume a civilian president will have less influence on the military. Is that a concern for the NLD?
A: It depends on the situation; who will become president, and what is the stance of the military? In countries across the world, civilian governments manage the country and the military is one of the institutions of a country. Such practices must be developed in this country.
Q: A Japanese news agency reported that you said the NLD has selected potential candidates for the presidential post. Who are they?
A: This is not true, the reporting was wrong. I just told them that we have more than 10 people who are qualified for the presidential post, but their report stated that the NLD has 10 presidential candidates. My answer only meant that the NLD has many members who are well experienced in politics, well educated and very faithful to the party.
Q: The present government has had some weaknesses in releasing public information to the media. What is your plan for ensuring a speedy flow of information under a new NLD government?
A: The Ministry of Information is responsible for releasing news. But we see important news stories need quotes from relevant sources to avoid legal complications.
Q: Do you mean the Ministry of Information will remain?
A: Exactly, but (we are not sure about whether) it is also possible to form information departments at respective government agencies and ministries.
Q: What does the NLD think of the development and infrastructure projects of President Thein Sein’s government? Have these been beneficial to the country and will you continue them?
A: We have sought the government’s information on these projects, but they have not given any responses to us yet. Our upcoming government needs to know the details of these projects – how were the projects initiated and to what extent have the projects been finalised? Only then could we continue these projects. We have not received the lists and results from these discussions. We could continue the projects based on this information. We will suspend the projects if the government budget for these projects is insufficient.
Q: What is your personal view of these projects?
A: I think transparency is an important issue for these projects. If we don’t get reliable information we could not make any assessment of the projects.
Q: What will be the NLD’s policy on defence and the army?
A: The military is a vital organisation for any country. The number of forces and units is not important – the military should be a modern army.
Q: What reforms does the NLD have in mind for the government administration?
A: I believe the government bureaucratic system must be restored in our country to what it was in the past. It was destroyed by military regimes between 1962 and 2010 (and replaced by a parallel military power structures). President Thein Sein’s government tried to restore it by appointing permanent secretaries at the ministries. The administrative officials must be under the management of administration executives. We need to strengthen such management systems.
Q: Can you explain this in more detail?
A: When political leaders lay down plans, administrative officials must implement them. However, political leaders must not intervene in the implementation processes as they have no capacity to do so. If policy-makers intervene in implementation processes, the system will not work well. For example, the military officials (during the junta) took administrative positions, saying they are capable of implementation in certain sectors. But they failed to do so correctly, as different (government) organisations have different procedures.