Constitutional changes key to improving Myanmar’s economy: Aung San Suu Kyi – from channelnewsasia.com

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Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her keynote speech during the Singapore Summit in Singapore. (AP Photo/Singapore Summit 2013)

SINGAPORE: Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Myanmar’s government is committed to improving the country’s economy.

However, she emphasized that a key part of that will be changes to the constitution and improving the rule of law to boost inclusiveness and unity in the country.

Suu Kyi was speaking on Saturday at the Singapore Summit conference held in Singapore’s Shangri-La Hotel.

She noted that only by establishing unity among its citizens, can Myanmar achieve genuine success for reforms.

Suu Kyi was speaking to some 350 invited conference participants, comprising government officials and business leaders.

Myanmar has been experiencing huge investment inflow into the country since it started opening its doors about two years ago.

The government is committed to improving the country’s economy as part of its reform.

However, Suu Kyi emphasized that genuine reform will depend on how much inclusiveness and unity Myanmar can achieve.

The key to that is changing the constitution and improving the rule of law.

She said: “A lot of our problems in recent months have arisen from the fact that we have been lacking in transparency. Business deals that have turned sour, the demands of the people for their wrongs to be put right so transparency is very important.

“But transparency is linked to confidence. We need a leadership that has enough confidence in themselves to be transparent and enough honesty to accept criticisms and to meet it in the best way possible which is to say by redressing what needs to be redressed but by standing up for what they believe is worth preserving or worth pursuing.”

Indonesia’s former vice-president, Yusuf Kalla also weighed in on how Myanmar can work towards resolving the conflicts among its different communities.

“It is how to make compromise. We should compromise to make prosperity for each other. What we can do in any country or Myanmar is to improve in the equality of life between the others,” he said.

As many are also keen on investing in Myanmar, Suu Kyi called on businesses to insist on transparency in order to help the country develop.

However, she sounded a word of caution.

“This is what the international community can do for us. To be honest in their assessment of the situation and not to let their hopes colour what they really see. You must not see what you want to see. You must see what there is to see. It is not by painting an over optimistic picture of our country that you can help us. It’s only by being realistic about what we need to do that you’ll be able to help us.”

Some have questioned whether such views may deter investors from entering the market but Suu Kyi is cognizant that Myanmar needs foreign funds.

Singapore Summit’s chairman George Yeo said: “She did say that businesses have got to make profits and if you don’t make profits, you shouldn’t be in business. But please aspire to higher goals and not just be concerned with making money.”

Suu Kyi certainly did not mince her words when she said that Myanmar is a nation that’s still divided.

What she said is crucial is that the people in her country must come together to discuss and resolve the differences for the sake of living together in a society which has to be at peace with itself.

Resolving deep-seated issues in Myanmar will be a challenge, but substantial reforms must be seen by next year before the country’s elections in 2015.

– CNA/fa

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