His Excellency U Khin Aung Myint. Photo by Stuart Hay.

His Excellency U Khin Aung Myint. Photo by Stuart Hay.

Making sense of conflict

Challenges and uncertainty have been a daily occurrence in Myanmar for many decades.

But recent political movements have created hope for the country's people.

Myanmar is coming to the end of its first five-year term of a new parliament, coming after more than two decades of military rule.

Elections scheduled for the end of 2015 represent a new chapter in the progress of a country that has long been in turmoil.

As part of the 2015 Myanmar/Burma Update at ANU, His Excellency U KHIN MYINT AUNG, Speaker of the Upper House of the Myanmar Parliament, outlined the path for political reform in his home nation. Below is an edited extract of his keynote address.

Myanmar's root problems

"As a Myanmar citizen, I am deeply satisfied with international interest into what some Western media have called "the Myanmar Spring", which is our democratic transformation.

If we analyse the civil war we will see two root causes. These were the ideological root and the 'ethnic' root. Because we could not find a political solution to these two roots, we slid over the brink into civil war.

As the flow of world politics changed, the danger of the ideological problem receded but the ethnic problem is still a sensitive one to this very day.

In 1962, the Tatmadaw took over the nation's responsibilities and turned its back on parliamentary democracy and moved in the direction of socialism.

In the beginning it had some successes and popular support but, in the long run, it moved towards a worse outcome.

The Tatmadaw, born of the people and trusted by them, began to see the trust between itself and the people erode.

I believe that there are two fundamental issues in Myanmar politics that have not been resolved.

First is the issue between the central government and ethnic minorities. This conflict is now in its 65th year.

Second is the relationship between the people and various successive governments.

All governments of Myanmar since 1962 have been, in one way or another, influenced by the military. This conflict is now in its 53rd year.

The first issue caused Myanmar's civil war. As long as this issue persists, it will be extremely difficult to end the civil war. The other issue is the result of long-term ruling of military-linked government, and it is the core of our democratic cause."