San Maung Than — Following the resounding victory by the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the recent national election, many in Arakan state expect significant change to be implemented by the incoming government.
“The government that will take office in 2016 entered the election with the slogan ‘Time to Change’. . . The next government has the full responsibility to carry out real change in line with the public’s desire” explained U Than Tun, a school teacher and a community elder from Arakan State’s capital Sittwe. U Than Tun is an avid observer of both Burmese and Arakanese politics.
Although U Than Tun likes that NLD won he is concerned whether reforms relating to ethnic rights will be implemented by the new government.
U Aung Win, who won in the State Parliament seat representing Myebon Constituency No 1 for the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) in the 2010 Election, said he expects changes during the new government administration formed by the NLD because U Thein Sein’s administration has not been able to carry out satisfactory change. U Aung Win's original party the RNDP later merged with the Arakan League for Democracy to form the Rakhine National Party which is also known as the Arakan National Party.
“A new government emerged during U Thein Sein’s administration within the five years we have passed through. There were only a few changes in our states during the period when the democratic system has been practiced. It was not a satisfactory change. But, we expect a certain change since the NLD will lead in the formation of the government in 2016 because Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a hope of the public. Who have passed through [the military rule] since 1988 and the public expects her to carry out democratic change,” U Aung Win said.
He continued that he believes there will more change within the next five years compared to the last five years and that special attention will be given to ethnic areas and the government will give broader consideration to regional development and ethnic rights.
U Aung Win predicted that there could be problems for the NLD with the Arakanese public if the party chose to disregard the 1982 Citizenship Law, a law implemented during Ne Win's military regime that effectively stripped large numbers of Muslims in the state of their citizenship rendering them stateless. While the law has garnered a lot criticism internationally from human rights groups it remains popular amongst many Arakanese.