Speaking at a public meeting on Monday in the Shan state capital Taunggyi, parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann stressed his support for federalism in Burma and urged the public to work alongside the government and the parliament to reach that objective.
Shwe Mann, the former head of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, voiced his support for federalism in June when addressing the ruling party, and was reported in 2012 telling parliamentarians that a federal union in Burma was “inevitable”.
“U Shwe Mann said that federalism must be granted, but that it should be a style of federalism that conforms to our country,” said Sai Aik Pao, the chairman of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), who attended the Taunggyi meeting. “He [Shwe Mann] pointed out that a different style of federalism is practiced in the United States from that of Germany or Switzerland, and that factors such as the country’s population and demographics must be considered.”
The SNDP chairman told DVB that the Union Assembly speaker noted to the Shan-based audience that achieving federalism is important for building peace in the country, and that it requires the public’s support as well as the government’s efforts.
Shwe Mann reportedly praised the pace of reform in Burma, saying that the transition was smoother than in many countries.
Sai Aik Pao said that members of the audience raised concerns about land confiscations, transportation woes, ID cards, education, and regional irrigation projects.
Former Lt-Gen Shwe Mann responded to all questions, except on matters of land confiscations which were handled by Land Grab Investigation Commission chairman Sai Htun Sein.
Shwe Mann continued his Shan state tour on Tuesday, 3 September, when he was scheduled to hold a public meeting in Kengtung.