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Suu Kyi’s government gets mixed marks on 100 days in office

Myanmar State counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (2-L) attends the third day of the working committee meeting for the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 05 July 2016. Photo: Hein Htet/EPA

July 9, 2016

Myanmar’s new government is getting mixed reviews in the local and international press as it passes its 100th day in office.

The National League for Democracy-led government under the leadership of State Counsellor Aung San SuuK yi and President Htin Kyaw have had a raft of pressing problems to deal with, inherited from the previous administration of President Thein Sein.

July 7 marked 100 days in office.

As the BBC points out, the government has a great deal of pressing priorities but appear to be putting their main focus on working out a peace deal with the armed ethnic groups. The country has been blighted by decades of conflicts in many states, primarily Kachin, Shan, and Kayin states. The government is currently pressing ahead with a 21st Century version of the 1947 Panglong Agreement signed by, amongst others, the late General Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father.

The BBC raises a question of whether constitutional change – long a hot-button issue – has slipped down the list of priorities, claiming Suu Kyi’s government aides are now “parroting” that the issue has to be dealt with after there is a stable peace agreement with the armed ethnic groups.

Analyst Dr Khin Zaw Win, director of the Tampadipa Institute, talking to Channel New Asia, says it has been seven months since the elections and “people want results.”

He says Suu Kyi is running the government like the way she’s running the party and that’s not really advisable or realistic at all.

“In Myanmar, the pass grade is 40. Definitely, it would be less than 50, I’m sorry to say. And because you don’t want to give her an F, let’s say 45. She passes, but barely,” he told Channel News Asia.

Khin Maung Zaw, a political analyst, told the news channel that the Suu Kyi administration could have made better use of its first months in office to articulate a clear direction for the country. “The first 100 days are important for a new government to give people the impression of how confident and reliable they are to lead and govern our country for the next five years. At that point, in my opinion, they lost that opportunity.”

Many political commenters both at home and abroad are critical of the government’s handling of the communal tension and the recent attacks on two mosques.

The BBC described the situation for political prisoners as a “revolving door,” having released prisoners on taking office, only to see the old draconian laws – many dating back to British Colonial rule – kick in and be used to arrest people. They do, however, credit parliament with starting to change some of the worse laws but note that this will take time.

Inevitably the problem of frequent power outages comes up, but this is hard to fix quickly.

Analysts have said that while individual ministries such as that for health, construction and electricity have unveiled their plans, more details are needed to instill confidence in the government among the people of Myanmar.

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