Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said she would describe Myanmar’s development since she won office in 2015 as “satisfactory.”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN yesterday in Hà Nội, the Nobel laureate said she was encouraged by the country’s achievements over the last two years.
“Young people have changed, and so have civil servants,” she said.
“I’m not just talking about corruption; it’s also about the fact they feel more confident and they can take more initiative,” she said. “They feel they are listened to, and they have greater confidence in themselves.”
Suu Kyi said despite Myanmar’s limited resources for education and research, she was impressed with the creativity and innovation of young people.
“I’d like to invite entrepreneurs to invest in our young people and in research, on which we currently spend very little,” she said.
Suu Kyi spoke on Myanmar’s political challenges, including the fact the military is required by law to hold 25 per cent of parliamentary seats. She said her National League for Democracy party is committed to changing the system.
“We made it very clear to the military that the presence of unelected members of parliament is not in line with our democratic values, and it has to change. All legislators should be elected by the people.”
Suu Kyi was pragmatic, recognising such changes will have to be done one step at a time within the framework of the law.
“We cannot rush into changes because we believe the rule of law is essential for the stability of our country and the security of our people,” she said. “Unless you work with people, you cannot achieve sustainable development.”
Asked by WEF president Borge Brende about the situation in the Rakhine State, she said Myanmar would always apply the rule of law evenly.
“There are of course ways in which, with hindsight, we might think the situation could have been handled better, but we believe for the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides.”
The State Counsellor explained there are many small ethnic and religious groups in the state, not just Muslims and Rakhines.
“There are small ethnic groups that are quickly disappearing and could vanish altogether,” she said. “We have to be fair to all of them even if the rest of the world is not interested in.”
She said her intention had been to establish a body to address the tensions, but plans were postponed when the party had to deal with escalating violence in October 2016.
Suu Kyi hopes her party will win the 2020 elections so they can continue to execute the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, released earlier this year.
“We want to bring the country out of poverty.”