INSTITUTE OF STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
Seminar on Understanding Myanmar
(MICT Park, Yangon, 27-28 January 2004)
Myanmar Roadmap to Democracy: The Way Forward
H-E. U Khin Maung Win
Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs
On 30th August 2003, in his address to the Members of the State Peace and Development Councils, Government Ministers, Heads of Departments, Non-Government Organizations, Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt stated that Myanmar will be implementing a 7-step programme for Myanmar's transition to a democratic state,
The 7-step Road Map includes:
1. Reconvening of the National Convention that has been adjourned since 1996;
2. After the successful holding of the National Convention, step by step implementation of the process necessary for the emergence of a genuine and disciplined democratic state;
3. Drafting of a new constitution in accordance with basic principles and detailed basic principle laid down by the National Convention;
4. Adoption of the constitution through national referendum;
5. Holding of free and fair elections for Pyithu Hluttaws (Legislative bodies) according to the new constitution;
6. Convening of Hluttaws attended by Hluttaw members in accordance with the new constitution;
7. Building a modern, developed and democratic nation by the state leaders elected by the Hluttaw; and the government and other central organs formed by the Hluttaw,
Specific Conditions, Special Circumstances
Each country in the world has it own
special and sometimes unique conditions which differentiate it from others. The
same holds true for
deeply jealous of their independence and sovereignty and are
determined that they will never be subjugated by an alien power. Sense of
patriotism and nationalism still runs very deep in
Another distinguishing feature of the
Since the days of the struggle for independence, Tatmadaw the Armed Forces have played a leading role in national politics. Whenever the country faced a crisis, it was the Tatmadaw that had stood in front of the people to protect the nation and the interests of the people. In 1949, at the height of armed insurgency when the country was in flames; in 1962 when splits in the ruling political party threatened to ignite a severe civil war; in 1962 when the nation faced disintegration due separatists and in 1988 when chaos and anarchy reigned in the country and people lived in fear for their lives and property, it was the Tatmadaw that stepped in to save the nation.
Another special feature that deserves
attention is that
Therefore, to fully understand
Overcoming the Challenges
The special circumstances surrounding
The biggest challenge is the question of national
unity. Today, as a result of the Government's endeavours, notable success has
been achieved in this regard. For decades, there had been discord among the
national races due to the British divide and rule policy and therefore it is
most important to change the mindset and to instill a sense of national
identity and a sense of belonging to the
The regions where the national races live are the most remote and least developed areas in the country. The Government has concentrated its efforts to bring progress and advancement to these regions. The political commitment of the Government can be seen by the fact that a Central Committee for the Progress of the National Races and Border Areas headed by the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Senior General Than Shwe was formed to provide guidance and supervision in this noble task. Likewise, a Working Committee headed by the Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt oversees the endeavours for developing the border regions. In addition, a separate Government Ministry named the Ministry for Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs was created to look after the day-to-day work.
This is the first time that so much attention has been accorded to the welfare of the national races. In this regard, during the time of the present Government, it has spent more than 50 billion Kyats and over 500 million dollars to improve the economic, basic infrastructure, education and health conditions. A growing transport network connects the border areas with other parts of the nation. The Government constructed 2812 miles of earthen roads, 1683 miles of gravel roads and 309 miles of tarred roads and upgraded 3030 miles of roads in border areas spending over 27 billion kyats. In addition, a total of 43 large bridges, 661 small bridges and 16 suspension bridges were built in the border areas. In the education sector, the Government had constructed 627 primary schools, 61 middle schools and 62 high schools, spending over 3 billion kyats. Primary medical health care is now available to many regions for the first time. The Government spent over 1.4 billion kyats constructed a total of 52 hospitals, 82 dispensaries, 29 rural health centers, and 40 rural health care centers (branch) in border areas. Improvement of economic conditions has also generated greater income for the people. Indeed, some of the localities in the border regions even enjoy better facilities than their counterparts in the central parts of the country. Subsequently, the national races today enjoy higher standards of living and better quality of life than ever before.
Another challenge that the country faces is external
pressure. Some western countries continue to exert political, economic and
diplomatic pressure and sanctions against
Implementing the Roadmap
The Government has already initiated steps for the implementation of the road map. The major steps include on the one hand preparations for the holding of the National Convention and on the other creating a positive atmosphere conducive to the successful holding of the Convention.
The emergence of a new enduring State Constitution is the most important key in building a new nation. In this regard, the holding of the National Convention is not only the first step of the 7 steps road map but also the most crucial one. It may be recalled that the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Declaration No. 11/92) issued on 24th April, 1992 stated that the State Law and Order Restoration Council will convene the National Convention in order to lay down the basic principles for the drafting of a firm and stable Constitution.
The formulation of the State Constitution will be based on the following six objectives:
(2) non-disintegration of national solidarity,
(3) perpetuation of sovereignty,
(4) flourishing of a genuine multiparty democracy system,
(5) development of eternal principles of justice, liberty and equality in the State,
(6) for the Tatmadaw lo be able to participate in the national political leadership role of the State.
To give the chance for all segments of the society to have a say in the drafting of the new constitution, the National Convention is composed of representatives from the following 8 strata of society:
1. delegates of political parties,
2. representatives-elect delegates,
3. delegates of nationalities,
4. delegates of peasantry,
5. delegates of workers,
6. delegates of intellectuals and intelligentsia,
7. delegates of State service personnel,
8. other invited delegates.
The National Convention first met in 1993 and before it was adjourned in 1996, it was able to accomplish the following tasks.
(a) identified the chapter headings to be included in drawing up the State Constitution and their order of arrangement, (the 15 chapter headings can be seen in the annexure)
(b) laid down 104 basic principles for formulating State fundamental principles (see annexure)
(c) laid down the detailed fundamental principles on the chapters on the State, State Structure and the Head of State
(d) laid down detailed fundamental principles in prescribing self-administered divisions or self-administered zone
(e) laid down detailed fundamental principles for formation of the Legislature
(f) laid down detailed fundamental principles for formation of the Executive
(g) laid down detailed fundamental principles for formation of the Judiciary
As mentioned above, the National Convention will be reconvened in the near future. Towards this end, the 3 main organs needed for preparatory work has already been reconstituted. They are the National Convention Convening Commission, the National Convention Convening Work Committee and the National Convention Management Committee, These committees are holding meetings in preparation for the convening of the National Convention.
In addition to the above preparations, Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt has already met with 13 National Races Groups in order to sound out they have views on the political programme. All the groups had voiced their supports to the 7-step Road Map and their wiliness to participate in the National Convention.
In this regard, I wish to recall the words
We are also encouraged by the positive
international response to the Road Map, Thus, the 9th ASEAN Summit
dialogue and reconciliation. The roadmap as outlined by the Prime Minister
of Myanmar that would involve all strata of
Moreover, in the joint communique issued on the occasion of the visit of the Indian Vice-President H.E. Mr. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat stated that: "The
The Road Map declared by Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt shows the way forward far our country. Together with our people, we arc determined to fully implement the 7 steps with the participation of the entire people. It is our hope that the international community will also show understanding and support for this most important venture for the country.
Chapter Headings and their serial order
1. State fundamental principles
2. State Structure
3. Head of State
8. Citizens and their fundamental rights and duties
10. Political parties
11. Provisions on state of emergency
12. Amendment of the Constitution
13. State flag, State seal, national anthem and the capital
14. Transitory provisions and
15. General provisions
The Principles laid down to serve as bases in prescribing State Fundamental Principles
(1) In connection with the State, it is laid down that -
(a) Myanmar Naing-Ngan is a sovereign, independent nation;
(b) the State shall be known as Pyidaungsu Thamada Myanmar Naing-Ngan Daw;
(c) sovereign power of the State is derived from the citizens and is in force in the whole country;
(d) the territorial boundary of the State is as it is on the day this State Constitution comes into force.
(2) In connection with the aims and objectives of the State, it is laid down that -
the State is consistently aimed at -
(b) non-disintegration of national solidarity,
(c) perpetuation of sovereignty,
(d) flourishing of a genuine multiparty democracy system,
(e) further burgeoning of the noblest and worthiest of worldly values namely justice, liberty and equality in the State,
(f) for the Tatmadaw to be able to participate in the national political leadership role of the State.
(3) In connection with multiparty democracy, it is stipulated that -
the State practices genuine multiparty democracy system.
(4) In connection with State structure, it is laid down that -
(b) the existing seven divisions are designated seven regions and the existing seven states are designated seven states. Those seven regions and seven states are of equal status and authority;
(c) the names of those seven regions and seven states are retained as they are at present;
(d) if it is desired to change the name of a region or a state, it shall be done so with enactment of law after ascertaining the wishes of citizens residing in the region or state concerned;
(e) in regions or states, self-administered areas are to be prescribed for national races who reside together in communities on the same common stretches of land in appropriate sizes of population, other than national races who have already got regions or states; depending on size of population and inhabited area, they are to be prescribed as self-administered divisions or self-administered zones as suitable;
part of the territory of the
(5) In connection with the Head of State, it is laid down that -
Head of State is the President of the
the President of
(6) In connection with separation and distribution of sovereign State power, it is laid down that -
(a) the three branches of State power, namely legislative power, executive power and judicial power are separated as much as possible and exert reciprocal control, check and balance among themselves;
three branches of State power, so separated, are distributed among Pyidaungsu (
(7) In connection with legislature, it is laid down that -
(a) the legislative power of the State is distributed among Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Region Hluttaws and State Hluttaws, legislative power stipulated by the State Constitution shall be distributed to self-administered areas;
(b) Pyidaungsu Hluttaw consists of two Hluttaws - one Hluttaw elected on the basis of population and the other one with equal number of representatives elected from regions and states;
(c) there will be a Region Hluttaw in each of the seven regions and a State Hluttaw in each of the seven states;
(d) Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Region Hluttaws and State Hluttaws include Tatmadaw servicemen Hluttaw representatives nominated as such by the Defence Services Commander-in-Chief in numbers stipulated by the State Constitution
(e) for national races with appropriate sizes of population, national race representatives are to be permitted to participate in legislatures of regions, states or self-administered areas concerned.
(8) In connection with executive branch, it is laid down that -
(a) the head of executive of the State is the President of the State;
(b) the executive power of the State is distributed among the administrative organs of Pyidaungsu, regions and states; self-administered areas as stipulated by the State Constitution;
(c) Pyidaungsu, regions, states, self-administered areas and district executive organs include Tatmadaw servicemen nominated by Defence Services Commander-in-Chief to undertake responsibilities of the defence, security, border administration etc,
(d) for national races of which representatives are so permitted to participate in legislatures of regions, states or self-administered areas in accord with above paragraph (7) sub-paragraph (e), representatives are to be permitted to participate, mainly to undertake their national race affairs, in administration of respective region, state or self-administered area;
National Convention shall forthwith carry out
matters included in above mentioned Paragraph (4) Sub-paragraphs (e) and
(f) Paragraph (7) Sub-paragraph (e) and this Paragraph Sub-paragraph
* 'Basic principle as amended as laid down by the plenary session of the National Convention held on 29-3-96
(9) In connection with the judiciary, it is laid down that -
(a) the judicial power of the State is distributed among Pyidaungsu Taya Hluttaw (Supreme Court), Region Taya Hluttaw (Region High Court), State Taya Hluttaw (State High Court)and law courts of different levels including law courts of self-administered areas;
(b) in the Pyidaungsu is constituted one Pyidaungsu Taya Hluttaw Pyidaungsu Taya Hluttaw is the supreme law court of the State;
(c) Pyidaungsu Taya Hluttaw has powers to issue writs;
(d) a Region Taya Hluttaw is constituted in each of the regions and a State Taya Hluttaw is constituted in each of the states; the following are stipulated as judicial principles-independent administration of justice in accord with law; administration of justice in public except where restricted by law; giving of right of defence and right of appeal by law in cases.
(10) In connection with the Tatmadaw, it is laid
down that -
(a) the Tatmadaw is strong, modern and must be the sole existing Tatmadaw;
(b) the Tatmadaw has the right to independently administer all affairs concerning the forces;
(c) the Defence Services Commander-in-Chief is the Supreme Commander of all armed forces;
(d) the Tatmadaw has the right to administer for participation of the entire people in State security and defence;
is mainly responsible for safeguarding
non-disintegration of the
(f) the Tatmadaw is mainly responsible for safeguarding the State Constitution
(11) In connection with citizens and citizens' fundamental rights and responsibilities, it is laid down that -
all persons born
of parents both of whom are nationals are citizens; all persons who
have become citizens in accord with law on the date the State Constitution
comes into force are citizens;
and citizenship, naturalization and revocation of citizenship shall be as prescribed by law;
(b) every citizen shall enjoy rights of equality, rights of liberty and rights of justice etc. as prescribed in the State Constitution;
(c) there shall be no right to hold a citizen in detention for more than 24 hours without the permission of a law court;
citizen has the duty to safeguard non-disintegration of the
(e) every citizen is responsible to abide by and uphold the State Constitution;
(f) every citizen shall have the duty to learn military service as prescribed by law;
(g) every citizen shall be responsible to undergo military service as prescribed by law;
(h) public peace and tranquility and prevalence of law and order is the responsibility of every citizen;
(i) necessary law shall be enacted to make citizens' freedoms, rights, benefits, responsibilities and restrictions effective, firm and complete.
(12) In connection with the national races, it is laid down that -
(a) the State shall help develop language, literature, fine arts and culture of the national races;
(b) the State shall help promote solidarity, mutual amity, and respect and mutual help among the national races;
(c) the State shall help promote socio-economic development including education, health, economy, transport and communications of less developed national races.
(13) In connection with the peasantry it is laid down that -
(a) the State shall enact necessary law to protect the rights of the peasantry;
(b) the State shall help the peasantry get equitable value for their agricultural produce.
(14) In connection with workers, it is laid down that -
the State shall enact necessary laws to protect the rights of workers.
connection with intellectuals and intelligentsia, it is laid down that -
the State shall help promote the interests of the intellectuals and intelligentsia.
(16) In connection with the State service personnel, it is laid down that -
(a) State service personnel shall be free from party politics;
State shall enact necessary laws for State service personnel to have due
security in service and sufficiency of food, clothing and shelter, for married
women in service to get maternity benefits, and for welfare to ease livelihood
of persons who have retired.
(17) In connection with national culture, it is laid down that -
the State shall help for development, consolidation and preservation of national culture,.
(18) In connection with education and health, it is laid down that -
(a) The State shall earnestly strive to improve education and health of the people;
(b) the State shall enact necessary law to enable the national people to participate in matters of education and health of the people;
(c) the State shall implement free compulsory primary education system;
(d) the State shall implement a modern education system that will promote all-around correct thoughts and good morals and contribute towards building of the nation,
(19) In connection
with agriculture, it is laid down that -
the State shall provide inputs such as technology, investments, machinery, raw materials etc. as much as it can for changeover from manual to mechanized agriculture;
(20) In connection with industry, it is laid down that -
the State shall provide inputs such as technology, investments, machinery, raw materials etc. as much as it can for development of industries,
(21) In connection with employment, it is laid down that -
the State shall, as much as it can, help reduce unemployment among the people.
(22) In connection with mothers, children, the old and the infirm, it is laid down that -
(a) the State shall care for mothers and children, orphans, fallen Tatmadaw servicemen's children, the old and the infirm, and the disabled;
the State shall arrange for disabled Tatmadaw servicemen to
be able to make a respectable livelihood and get free vocational training.
(23) In connection with the youths, it is laid down that -
the State shall strive to imbue youths with strong and dynamic patriotic spirit, correct way of thinking and the five noble strengths.
(24) In connection with religion, it is laid down that -
(a) every citizen is equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess and practise religion subject to public order, morality or health and to the other provisions of the State Constitution;
(b) the above right shall not include any economic, financial, political or other secular activities that may be associated with religious practice;
(c) the freedom so guaranteed shall not debar the State from enacting laws for the purpose of social welfare and reform;
(d) the State recognizes the special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens of the State;
(e) the State also recognize Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Animism as some religions existing in the Union at the date of the coming into force of the State Constitution;
(f) the State shall help and protect as much as it can the religions it recognizes;
(g) the abuse of religion for political purposes is forbidden; and any act which is intended or is likely to promote feelings of hatred, enmity or discord between racial or religious communities or sects is contrary to the State Constitution and may be made punishable by law.
(25) In connection with the economy, it is laid down that -
(a) the State economic system shall be market economic system;
(b) the State permits all economic forces such as the State itself, regional organizations, cooperative organizations, joint venture organisations and private concerns etc. to take part in economic activities for the development of national economy;
(c) the State shall prevent acts that harm public interests through monopolization or manipulation of prices by an individual or group with intent to jeopardize fair competition in economic activities,
(d) the State shall strive towards uplift of living standards of the people and development of general investments;
(e) the State shall assist to acquire technology, investments, machinery and raw materials etc. for development of national economy;
(f) the State will not nationalize economic enterprises;
(g) the State will not demonetize the
currency that is legally put into circulation.
(26) In connection with the land, the waters, the atmosphere and natural resources, it is laid down that -
(a) the State is the ultimate owner of all the land, and natural resources above and below the ground, above and beneath the waters and in the atmosphere within its territorial boundary;
(b) the State shall enact necessary law to supervise economic forces extraction and utilization of State owned natural resources;
(c) the State shall permit citizens right of private property, right of inheritance, right of private enterprise, right of initiative and right of patent in accord with law.
(27) In connection with elections, it is laid down that -
(a) every citizen shall have the right to vote and to stand for election according to law;
(b) voters concerned, shall have the right,
in accord with provisions of the State Constitution, to recall elected people's
(28) In connection with political parties, it is
laid down that -
the State shall enact necessary law for systematic formation of political parties for flourishing of genuine multiparty democracy system.
(29) In connection with state of emergency, it
is laid down that -
(a) when there arises a state of emergency characterized by inability to perform executive functions in accord with provisions of the State Constitution in a region or a state or a self-administered area, the President of the
State is empowered to exercise executive power in that region, state or self-administered area and if necessary in doing so, the President of the State is empowered to exercise legislative powers concerning that region, state or self-administered area in accord with provisions of the State Constitution;
(b) when there arises or there is sufficient reason to arise a state of emergency endangering life and property of the people in a region, a state or a self-administered area, the Tatmadaw has the right, in accord with provisions of the State Constitution, to preempt that danger and provide protection;
(c) when there arises a state of emergency that could cause disintegration of the Union, disintegration of national solidarity and loss of national sovereignty, due to takeover of sovereign State power or attempts therefor by wrongful forcible means such as insurgency or violence, the Defence Services Commander-in-Chief has the right to take over and exercise State power in accord with provisions of the State Constitution.
(30) In connection with foreign affairs, it is laid down that –
(a) the State practises independent, active and non-aligned foreign policy, aims at world peace and friendly relations with nations, and upholds the principles of peaceful co-existence among nations;
(b) the State never starts aggression against any nation;
foreign troops are permitted to be deployed within the borders of the
(31) In connection with punishments/ it is laid down that –
(a) there is no right for any penal law to provide for retrospective effect;
(b) there is no right to proscribe punishments that violate human dignity.
(32) In connection with the natural environment, it is laid down that -
the State shall protect the natural environment.
(33) In connection with general provisions, it is laid down that –
(b) the State fundamental principles are guidelines to be followed by the legislative. Hluttaws in enacting laws and in interpreting provisions of the State Constitution and other laws;
(c) a Constitutional Tribunal shall be set up to interpret provisions of the State Constitution, to scrutinize whether or not laws enacted by Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Region Hluttaws and State Hluttaws and functions of executive authorities of Pyidaungsu, regions, states and self-administered areas are in conformity with the State Constitution, to decide on disputes in connection with the State Constitution between Pyidaungsu and regions, between Pyidaungsu and states, between regions and states, among regions, among states, and between regions or states and self-administered areas and among self-administered areas themselves [and?] to perform other duties prescribed in the State Constitution.
After laying down the principles to serve as base for formulating State fundamental principles, it will be carried on as follows:
- of those basic principles, relevant ones are to be taken as basis in discussing basic principles in respective chapters.
- of those basic principles, those that should be mentioned in the preamble of the State Constitution should be mentioned also in that preamble,
- principles concerning the State are to be mentioned separately in the chapter heading 'The State’,
- likewise, principles concerning respective chapters are to be transferred to respective chapters, when discussions are held for those respective chapters,
- principles concerning the chapter 'State fundamental principles' are to be retained in the chapter on State fundamental principles.
[THE ANNEXURE ALSO CONTAINED A LIST OF “NATIONAL RACE LEADERS“ RECEIVED BY THE PRIME MINISTER ANDA LIST OF “ARMED NATIONAL GROUPS THAT HAVE ACHIEVED PEACE WITH THE GOVERNMENT”]