Thein Sein: We aim to build mature democratic state
Myanmar is geographically situated between two major countries - China and India - and it is strategically located in Southeast Asia with plenty of untapped natural resources; however, it has lagged behind in progress compared to other nations, said President Thein Sein during his speech at the US-Asean Business Forum held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Friday.
Thein Sein said his government is carrying out of reforms to liberate Myanmar from half a century of centralised system, aiming eventually to build a mature democratic state.
The president said his government had talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, and invited her to hold discussions openly so that the government could set aside the differences and work together based on common grounds.
Myanmar is still threatened by civil war, which had emerged since independence, he said.
He pointed out that due to sanctions, his nation does not receive any assistance from international monetary institutions or organisations like the World Bank, IMF, ADB or UNDP in the process of building a democratic state.
The president also said that Myanmar has reached a turning point in its history, and his government has been faced with numerous challenges and obstacles during the transition to a new democratic society.
He said that some people wish to observe the situation in the country and maintain pressure on it.
To fulfill the wishes of the people, who hope to see genuine change, Thein Sein said his government is simultaneously implementing three reform measures - to walk away from a centralised system, to achieve long-lasting peace in the country, and to transform its centralised economy into a market-oriented economy.
The president said the Myanmar Investment Commission has laid down four principles with regard to foreign investment - to protect the interest of Myanmar citizens; to protect the dignity of the state; to protect national sovereignty; and to allow environmentally friendly investment.
The country is now preparing to enact the Myanmar Foreign Investment Law that will be of international standard by seeking advice from international experts on attracting more investments that will serve both the interest of the nation and investors.
Myanmar, he added, has lagged behind in development for the past sixty years, and his government is determined to make strenuous efforts to achieve recognition and respect from friendly nations as a developed democratic state.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Thein Sein on Friday, two days after President Barack Obama formally lifted prohibitions on US investment in Myanmar, marking another step in the administration's rapid normalisation of relations with the formerly isolated country.
Thein Sein spoke of his desire for more investment and an increase in production of "value-added" products - exporting not only raw rubber but also tyres, for instance. He also discussed ways to improve child and maternal health.
Clinton told him the United States was prepared to help Myanmar with internally displaced people.