The now-imprisoned former PM Khin Nyunt conceived the idea of the “roadmap to democracy” in 2003. Yet little progress has been made–only 1 of the 7 steps has been completed.
- Reconvening of the National Convention that has been adjourned since 1996. (actually started in 1993)
- After the successful holding of the National Convention, step by step implementation of the process necessary for the emergence of a genuine and disciplined democratic system. (still in session and will be ‘completed soon’)
- Drafting of a new constitution in accordance with basic principles and detailed basic principles laid down by the National Convention.
- Adoption of the constitution through national referendum.
- Holding of free and fair elections for Pyithu Hluttaws (Legislative bodies) according to the new constitution.
- Convening of Hluttaws attended by Hluttaw members in accordance with the new constitution.
- Building a modern, developed and democratic nation by the state leaders elected by the Hluttaw; and the
government and other central organs formed by the Hluttaw.
It’s interesting to note that none of these points have deadlines. The “process” could well take centuries, if the State Peace and Development Council (the Orwellian name of the ruling military regime, ) is uneasy of letting go of power. Apparently the Constitution of 1948, which created a 2-chamber parliament (giving ethnic minorities some political power in the upper-Chamber of Nationalities) cannot be temporarily reinstated because that’s too “old” (the American constitution has been functioning for centuries). Even the Socialist Constitution of 1975, which provided some personal rights is better compared to the arbitrary laws and edicts the government conjures.
In addition, I find it intriguing that military personnel run the National Convention. Only groups selected by the government are allowed to participate. Most of the ethnic minority parties are likely to gain “self-administering areas”, which are autonomous. A new state flag will be created, and Burmese (called “Myanmar” by the government) will be the official language. But this is a transparent attempt by the regime to convince the general public that it is committed to democratizing. The roadmap leads nowhere, except into the hands of Than Shwe and his trusted subordinates (or “lackeys”, as state-controlled newspapers would say).