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Myanmar needs to do more hard work

Myanmar's apparent recovery from military rule to a flourishing democracy was accelerated by President Thein Sein when he declared that all political prisoners would be released by the end of 2013 and that a ceasefire with ethnic groups could be possible within weeks. Indeed, Myanmar has too much to lose if the domestic instability threatens its transitional efforts as it has taken the world a long time to trust its slow pace of reforms. Indeed, time has come to convert good will Myanmar has earned with hard work into a lasting peace for its people.

Myanmar has taken a well calculated journey to the roads of democracy, peace and development. Yet, the experience may not be so happy all the time but it is worth giving its people the right to choose their destiny. Nothing will change without putting hard work and patience. Myanmar can be a bright example how pluralism and democracy can work together.   

In fact, much has been done in the field of political reforms and democracy since President Thein Sein took to office after the 2010 elections which saw military rule replaced by a military-backed civilian government. 

Many political prisoners have already been freed and media restrictions have been relaxed. Key opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, which boycotted the 2010 elections has rejoined the political process. 

The international community has appreciated the Myanmar government's efforts and relaxed previously held sanctions against it. However, at the same time, crime and violence against the minority ethnic and rebel group has severely made the stability factor little complicated which has put Myanmar at a very embarrassing spot.

However, the recent renewed communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims is an immense cause of worry not only for Myanmar, but the international community as well. 

With the Human rights watchdogs condemning the violence, the pressure has built on Thein Sein government to put an end to the ongoing conflict. The government must realize that unless a permanent solution is found to the problem of these groups, such violence will threaten the peace and stability in the country. 

This issue needs to be tackled quickly otherwise the gains made over the years will vanish if violence and instability continue. Some pessimists are out to question these contradictory developments such as peace and violence moving together. But they need to understand Myanmar has just started the journey. Therefore, it will need more time to settle.

At the domestic level, it is very important that Myanmar needs to be stronger and Myanmar people and government must find their identity to make their country proud at all level. Thus, the spirit of nation building must be reinvigorating with a renewed commitment.

Thus, people must focus on progressive things such as more political freedom and freedom of press, rather than regressive issues from the past like socio-economic problems and human rights violence.

In addition, Myanmar also goes into election in 2015. Going by the trend that Suu Kyi may win, then the military must downplay its hard line approach and open ways for a more moderate and accepted approach if it wishes to remain in power. 

At the international level, if the domestic issues can be managed to a satisfactory level, then the reforms could give rich dividends and consolidate further its position in the ASEAN to enjoy Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN member countries to continue to reap the benefits of the newly lifted economic sanctions.

Countries like US, UK, Japan, China and India have flocked to Myanmar to nurture trade, investment and military ties as each has realized the strategic importance of Myanmar.

Myanmar needs such investment for social and economic development for its people who have been the victims of political power tussle for so long. The new constitution has retained considerable power for the military and it must be exercised cautiously, only when national interests are at stake.

In such a scenario, the importance of a moderate leader like Thein Sein is high because the international community can engage well diplomatically with the government. In addition, human rights activists are also able to speak out for justice as the government has become more responsive to public opinion.