State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has acknowledged disappointment over the slow pace of reform under her government, in a speech marking its first anniversary in office.
“We did what we can for the sake of our country and the people in one year,” Aung San Suu Kyi said in a rare televised address to the nation on March 30.
“We know that we weren’t able to make as much progress as people had wanted … One year is not a long period,” she said in the 25-minute address.
“Last year, I said the motto was, ‘It’s time for change’. Now … I want to say the motto is: ‘Together with people’,” she said.
The address came a year after the National League for Democracy took office amid high expectations following a landslide election victory that gave Myanmar its first civilian government in more than 50 years.
Referring to disappointment with the government’s performance, the State Counsellor said she was doing her best and issued a challenge to her critics.
“When I joined politics, I said ‘I promise one thing: that I will do my best’. That’s all. I can’t do better than that,” she said.
“So, if you all think I am not good enough for our country and our people, if someone or some organisation can do better than us, we are ready to step down.”
Despite some progress with reforms, the NLD-led government’s image has been tarnished by sluggish economic growth, a slump in foreign investment, an upsurge of fighting along the northern border and the crisis in Rakhine State.
Aung San Suu Kyi stressed that many of the challenges confronting her administration were a legacy of previous military governments.
“We are now trying to change a system which existed for over 50 years,” she said.
“We can see our goals clearly and we are marching to reach them. The goals are national reconciliation and peace.”
Aung San Suu Kyi also acknowledged the challenges confronting the peace process that she made her government’s first priority.
“Peace process is not easy. We have a lot of hope … But hope is just hope – nothing is for sure yet. We have to keep trying,” she said.
There was some good news for the process on March 30, with the State Counsellor’s Office announcing that another five armed ethnic groups planned to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
It said the decision by the Karenni National Progressive Party, New Mon State Party, Arakan National Council, Lahu Democratic Union and Wa National Organization would enable them to participate in the political dialogue centred on the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conferences. They will join eight groups that signed the NCA in October 2015.
On the situation in Rakhine, Aung San Suu Kyi criticised the March 24 decision by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate widespread allegations of killings, rape and torture by the security forces in Maungdaw District after a deadly attack by Muslim militants on border guard posts last October.
“We don’t accept (the UN’s) decision as it is not suitable for the situation of our country,” she said, without elaborating.