Daily Times:New government brings opportunities, challenges for Myanmar
April 1, 2016 | Daily Times
YANGON: When Myanmar’s new government officially starts its term on Friday, it will be the first time a civilian-led administration has ruled the country since 1962.
Taking control after decades of military rule will be the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi, which won 80 per cent of the votes in November’s election. As party leader and the holder of several cabinet posts including foreign minister, Suu Kyi is expected to wield the real power behind President Htin Kyaw, her close advisor who was sworn in on Wednesday along with cabinet members.
The Lady, as the Nobel Peace laureate is known, is venerated by a large part of the 54 million population, many of whom are optimistic that she and her allies will bring radical change. But experts have been more cautious. Suu Kyi and the NLD face a range of problems, including the legacies of a widespread perception of governmental corruption and a backwards economic infrastructure.
According to the monitoring group Transparency International, Myanmar ranks 147 out of 168 countries in perceived public-sector corruption, where the bottom-ranked are felt to be the most corrupt. Party officials agree. “The government must tackle the corruption problem,” senior NLD member Myo Aung said. “It is like a chronic disease, as corruption is in every sector of society,” he told dpa. “We have no rule of law. The people in power can do as they please with no fear of repercussion. We must change that.”
In addition to tackling corruption, experts are also calling on the NLD to modernize an economy that has only recently opened to international markets. “Agriculture remains at the core of the Myanmar economy,” said Edward Ratcliffe, a senior associate at the Myanmar office of corporate advisory firm Vriens and Partners. There is still a wealth of potential within the agricultural sector, but the country “is lagging behind in more value-added sectors,” he said.
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