President Thein Sein 'has performed well'

President Thein Sein 'has performed well'

The expected change of the Burmese government is unlikely to disrupt the close ties between Bangkok and Naypyidaw since key policies will continue, according to ambassador to Burma Pisanu Suvanajata.

Speaking in an interview with the Bangkok Post, Mr Pisanu said positive political developments in Burma are expected ahead of the new government’s formation as both the military-backed Union Solidarity Party (USDP) and National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi have the same policy of conducting reform and building reconciliation.

Constructive engagement among ASEAN members will also strengthen the warm relations with immediate neighbours such as Thailand, he said.

“Both the government and opposition have been moving in the same direction, particularly regarding reform and reconciliation in the country over the past two to three years. Therefore, only some details will be adjusted if the power change happens,” he said.

Mr Pisanu said setting up a new government will also facilitate a more favourable economic atmosphere and ease pressure from the West based on the hypothesis that the new administration is led by the NLD which won the election in a landslide.

“If all sides respect the election result, economic development will move ahead constructively, and economic pressure will ease as international support flows in,” he said.

Addressing the long-standing cooperation between two countries, Mr Pisanu said Thailand still has time to make clear positions on some specific issues ahead of the new government’s formation.

Asked about what Thailand could learn from Burma’s election, the ambassador said the election management and campaign to attract voters were practices that could help increase voter turnout.

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He stressed that relevant state agencies and all political parties in Burma took part in the campaign, raising awareness about a free and fair election.

“We witnessed voters waiting in long lines for a couple of hours before voting began,” he said.

“It’s because of their routine — they had to get back to work,” he added, saying the average time to cast a ballot was about 17 minutes for each voter due to complicated polling procedures.

However, Mr Pisanu saw a great desire to see constructive change in the country. He praised the government for a successful election.

“Actually, the government under the leadership of President Thein Sein has performed well in the past four to five years but insufficient support for it indicated that Myanmar society wanted change,” he said.

He admitted there will be another challenge for the NLD if it governs given that key cabinet posts — defence, interior and border affairs ministers — are appointed by the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

“Both sides have to find common ground and work together,” Mr Pisanu said.

After the Burmese election commission announces the official results, parliament will convene its first session in late December to choose a president, Mr Pisanu said.

This article was republished with full permission from Bangkok Post.

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