President Thein Sein of Myanmar (Burma) has broadcast a radio message through radio programs from 1 to 3 March. Nay Pyi Taw Radio Myanmar, Mandalay FM Pyinsawady FM, Shwe FM, Cherry FM, Padamya FM, FM Bagan and Thazin broadcast the message at 7 am, 11 am, 6 pm and 8 pm respectively. Padauk Myay Radio will air the speech at 5.30 am, 7 am, 6 pm and 8 pm respectively, the state-run media said Friday.

He was on air to inform the public of his government’s policies and undertakings as bringing them up to date on the country’s developments. Firstly, he recalled the significance of the 66th Anniversary Union Day dinner on 12 February. Thein Sein strangely revealed it as a historic day— 12 February, 1947. It was marked as the country’s union day as national leader General Aung San and ethnic leaders signed the Panglong agreement amidst various challenges building a Federal Democratic Union on the world stage.

He said that this year’s Union Day is noteworthy because of the potential for national reconciliation as seen in the current peace process. Ethnic leaders, parties and organizations came face to face at the Union Day dinner. The dinner strengthened mutual trust among leaders in peace talks, Thein Sein said.

President U Thein Sein receives MPs, chairpersons of political parties, leaders of ceasefire groups and members of peacemaking committees at the 66th Anniversary Union Day dinner reception in City Hall compound, Naypyitaw on 12 February, 2013. (Photo: President Office Website)

President Thein Sein also said, “My meeting with leaders of ethnic armed groups on internal peace making process on 13 February coincided with the birthday of General Aung San. I would like to convey a message to you that we have made a firm step towards the national reconciliation which would be the best possible birthday present to our national leader by the people of Myanmar.”

He said that he had invited KIO/KIA leaders to attend the Union Day dinner. Yet, they could not attend it due to remaining various difficulties and reasons. Except, KIO and Union government have had extra optimism during the Shweli peace talks held on 4 February, the President said. He said that he believed a truce would be reached and a sustainable peace process could be created. He also said that he cared for KIO’s stance on genuine peace, equality and self-determination of national races stated on the press release about Shweli peace talks.

While working for reconciliation, the President said there will be free spaces not only for the participation of individual organizations but also for citizens in the peace process. On 7 February, he said, there was a progress forming a scrutiny committee of the remaining prisoners. It was composed of the representatives from the government, the civil societies and political parties to enable the rest of the political prisoners to take part in future national politics, Thein Sein said.

According to the President, the committee will work transparently and will manage the family reunion of the prisoners of conscience jailed by the then regime, to help them enjoy their freedom like any other citizens and participate in future reforms.

He also mentioned that plans are in progress to sell low-priced cell phone devices in the coming April to help extend the current communication infrastructures. Besides, he also informed about the struggles to create more job opportunities for youths.

The reform progress depends on local strength and the government is working hard to shape a modern country on the basis of the globalization, the President aired through the radio waves. The goal of his European trip is to fetch necessary assistances for the country’s reform processes, he highlighted.

In conclusion, he urged people to be at one with fast and forceful reforms. Finally, he called on every citizen for forgiveness, mutual understandings, sympathy and cooperation.

President Thein Sein has pledged to bring about ‘transparency’ and ‘good governance’ in the military-monopolized rundown country, since taking office in March 2011. But questions hang around unbeatably whether Thein Sein knows how to control the scandalously inscrutable armed forces, which is known for grabbing major financial interests in Burma’s money-spinning natural resource industries.

It is also illogical that the unlimited ‘Special Funds’ open to the commander-in-chief of the military is completely unbalanced. The worst is that the ruling says the military commander-in-chief will not be subject to questioning, explanation or auditing by any individual or organization concerning the use of ‘Special Funds’.

According to Democratic Voice of Burma, the country’s tarnished armed forces will maintain to seize the largest portion of next year’s national budget, despite criticisms from a number of MPs over the lack of transparency in the ministry’s expenditures and policies.

The defense ministry has been allocated 20.86 percent – or over one fifth – of the fiscal year 2013-2014, which is currently being debated in parliament. It represents an incremental decrease from the previous year, when it received around one quarter of the national budget.

Even though the deputy defense minister, Maj-Gen Kyaw Nyunt promised to consider the issue raised in parliament corresponding to the constitution.  Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi with like-mined MPs called for amendments to the 2013-2014 National Planning Bill, insisting that the budget must “reflect the people’s desire”.

But, it is still out of the question to amend the military primary constitution. For instance, Burma’s Union Parliament approved the government’s US $1.15 billion military budget on Friday with an overwhelming majority. In a joint vote by the Upper House and Lower House in Naypyidaw, 445 parliamentarians voted for the proposed military budget, 60 voted for a reduction of the budget and 7 MPs abstained, according to The Irrawaddy.

Then, there are questions for President Thein Sein. If the President preferred creating peace and national reconciliation, why did his armed forces need over-spending for military hardware? If there is poverty alleviation in the president’s reform agenda, why did his government distribute the smallest share of the budget for health and education?