Although U Thein Sein’s government, which took office before 2015, was a civilian government that shifted from a military government, conflict continues. The privileged and the authorities prospered but nothing has changed for the public. They tried to win in this election, but the NLD won because Daw Suu told the public to vote for the party [instead of looking at the candidates]. We heard that they will transfer power, but I’m still not assured because as it hasn’t been transferred yet. I’m worry whether they will only transfer half or some parts of their power. Everything will be great if these two things [the authorities and special privilege people making their own profits] can be cut down in the next government.
If there is a decrease in the authorities and the privileged people making their earnings, there would be some areas left for our poor public to make their earnings. The farmers would get their land back. The workers will get moderate salaries. I expect the poor to live comfortably in 2016.
The main issue the next government will face in Karen State are the unresolved land issues of the previous government. Not only the government but those who are close to them who have been confiscating land and I haven’t heard about them being returned during this government’s term. I hope we can feel a little relieved if the military stays at their military bases and the guns are not in the hands of the authorities when the next government takes office.
Ko San Moe Aung (Karen Affairs Observer)
When the election was held in 2010, It was better to have an election than not having one. It was better to have a parliament than not having one. After 2010, by-elections were held in 2012. The NLD took part in the by-election. Then, the election was held in 2015. Some people told us not to look at 2010 and look at 2015 and 2020. This was said in 2010. Now that the 2015 Election is over, we have seen the next government negotiating with the ‘big four’. You can say this is reasonable. Although people have been saying that they have been breaching the law and the law is not sufficient, but you can say [things] have gotten better if you think with optimism. A political expert who also reviewed the current situation is filled with information suggesting a bad situation in 2016. These reviews of the experts may be correct, but there have been cases of them being incorrect. But, the political situation is likely to improve due to these meetings. Although the NLD has won most of the seats in Karen State, they haven’t done any teamwork. They lack experience. Also, Karen State is a border area and it has to communicate with Thailand. Myawaddy is Myanmar’s south eastern gate. Yangon is on the road from Karen State because it is a high consuming city. Another thing is the next Karen State government has to make a lot of dealings with armed groups. So, there are many challenges. They don’t have teamwork and much experience so we do not feel assured.
Naw Mar Mar Cho (Myanmar Institute of Politics and Public Policy)
If I were to review this year, the election happened. Multi-parties ran in the election especially ethnic parties. But the ethnic parties lost. I don’t have any big feeling about their defeat because the entire people want change.
So, the public voted for the NLD. I’m happy and feel proud about NLD winning. The public wanted change so there were weaknesses in voting for the ethnic parties.
We however have obtained change now. This is one of the events of 2015. If I were to talk about post-2015, the election has been held successfully. But, peace issue remains. Eight ethnic armed groups signed the NCA (Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement).
But, wars continue to break out, especially in Shan and Kachin states. Peace is essential for the transition of our country. If the country is not peaceful, there would be many difficulties in every place where we need to move forward. The next government needs to give its priority to peace when it takes office in 2016.
As long as there is no peace and the sound of gunfire, we won’t be able to move forward. The country will only have economic development and trading will become development when the public is at peace.
Another thing is that I want ethnic voices to be heard in the parliament starting from 2016. The next point is to practice the federal system. A federal system is something wanted by the ethnic people. If a one-party system is put in place, ethnic people will face difficulties. Ethnic people will accept any groups or parties that will move towards the path to democracy within a federal system.
That’s why I think that first we need peace. The second point is ethnic equality and the practice of a federal system that is needed by ethnic people.
Sayar U Myint Shwe (Retired Teacher) – Political Observer
If I were to look at this year’s political situation, U Thein Sein’s government that took office in 2010 was unable to keep the promises it made to the public. It was able to carry them out to a certain extent. But, it was unable to give the change expected by the public. Now that we have arrived in 2015, we have seen changes from the situation that was carried out when U Thein Sein’s government took office in 2010.
We have seen a lack of checks and balances in the four pillars of the legislature, administration, judiciary, and media. For example, there have been cases of the government signing the draft bill and enacting it in line with the 2008 Constitution even though it didn't accept submissions from parliament.
Sometimes, the parliament didn't accept the government’s proposals. Another thing is that I think the judiciary has been influenced by the government. There weren't any independent investigations because the government was unable to this out effectively for the death of Daw Khin Win in Latpadaung after fire-bombs were used against monks and the protest camp was destroyed. The government has taken unnecessary actions against the students who peacefully protested for educational change. There were also issues like the murder of journalist Ko Par Gyi. The government has only been able to carry out half of the recommendations put forward by the Human Rights Commission. That’s why their actions were against the promises of a clean government they had made when they took office.
When the public started seeing U Thein Sein’s government acting like the previous military governments had done from 1962 to 1988 during the Revolutionary Council Era, from 1988 to 1993 during the State Law and Order Restoration Council era and from 1993 to 2010 during the State Peace and Development Council Era, they desired a government that could carry out a democratic system that is based on human rights.
The public started losing confidence with U Thein Sein’s government. Their trust started to decline. That’s why the public, who had seen the record of U Thein Sein administration, voted for the NLD with great expectation in the 2015 Election because they wanted change. The NLD won on a nationwide scale. In my view, the winning party will try to keep its promises as much as it can. We cannot say now whether or not the winning candidates will carry out their promises.
We believe we are moving towards the positive [prospect]. I’m a Mon. The existing constitution needs to be amended to have federalism which has been demanded by ethnic people. Ethnic armed groups that have agreed to a ceasefire will call for constitutional amendment after the political dialogue in order to have federalism. The upcoming NLD government will amend the 2008 Constitution to get federalism. Winning ethnic representatives will call for ethnic affairs. I’m ready to support them as a member of the public.
U Kyaw Min Sein (Chairman of Lorry Trucks Association, Vice-Chairman of Mar Ya Free Funeral Service)
When there is peace and rule of law in the [Karen] State and there is a three-party situation between the ethnic armed groups, businessmen, and the civilian government, this is a good place to create economic routes.
There are natural resources in some areas controlled by ethnic armed groups. So, when we have really obtained peace and there is rule of law, our state will become more developed. We have seen the neighbouring [Thailand] country coming to build better roads.
When we have better roads and communication, we will have more contact with Yangon and there will be faster trade flows. It is a good sign that the current ruling leader met with the opposition.
As civilians, we can’t criticize too much the economic changes yet. We expect that the economic situation will become better during the term of the next civilian government.