Changes take time, but commitment matters - By Debby Chan

Source: Frontier Myanmar

Published on April 18, 2017, noon

A review of the NLD-led government’s performance on its first anniversary reveals a disappointing failure to honour election campaign promises for greater transparency.

DURING THE election campaign that swept it to a landslide victory in November 2015, the National League for Democracy promised “change” to its constituents.

It is taking time for the NLD-government to achieve tangible changes. This is because it inherited a weak economy, poor infrastructure, an inefficient bureaucracy, protracted armed conflicts and other deep-seated structural problems from previous governments.

It was commendable that the NLD-led government endeavoured to further the peace process from the onset. The government is also heading in the direction of economic justice by increasing the budget for education and health. In spite of these efforts, there are areas in which the government performed less well. Among them, I highlight the issue of transparency. This problem is largely rooted in a lack of commitment rather than any other limitations.

The need for greater transparency is among the issues the NLD advocated during the election campaign. Disappointingly, the track record of the government since it took office just over a year ago has shown that it wrongly defined – and perhaps even intentionally ignored – transparency.

The government’s practices show that it understands transparency as trust that the top leaders are in the best position to work for the country. This is consistent with what NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told voters on the campaign trail: “Vote for the party, not individuals. If the candidates are not good, I will lecture them.”

As the NLD controls both the executive and the legislature, the government is in a favourable position to promote effective governance. On the down side, the NLD-dominated parliament is weak in performing its check and balance role. Against this background, public scrutiny is of foremost importance in holding the government accountable to citizens...

Debby Chan

Opinion paper

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