Some might say it is a mere wishful-thinking that the newly installed President Win Myint would be more effective and assertive than the ex-President Htin Kyaw. But others doubt if he could do much than the ex-President, as he would be able to exercise only the powers that Aung San Suu Kyi is ready to grant him, as was the case with Htin Kyaw.
And on top of it, he won’t be able to order the Military or Tatmadaw around, because even the former ex-Tatmadaw officers headed, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) President Thein Sein wasn’t able to convince the Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Laing to follow the parliamentary endorsed unilateral ceasefire against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in 2003.
At that time the Tatmadaw argued that it has the right to defend itself when attacked. But the pretext was just a weak argument, as the Tatmadaw was the one that unleashed the offensives during the said period and not the Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs). Thus, Thein Sein was unable to rein in on the Tatmadaw against its will to keep the war flames burning, for whatever reason it may have in store.
However, his first movement of amnesty involving over 8000 prisoners, including some 30 political prisoners has to be praised, as there were no conditional string attached for the release like in the past.
But critics pointed out that the new President’s speech didn’t even mention anything about the war in Kachin and Shan States, Rohingya problematic in Rakhine State, and its election campaign promises of “change“ or constitutional amendment, which are the core problems in resolving the country’s woes and achieving political settlement.
One even said during a recent political discussion in BBC, involving National League for Democracy (NLD) members, an ethnic political party member and observers, that the NLD is cowed or not bold enough to touch on the said core issues and that was why the party is promoting the line of “not to disturb the tranquility and also create changes”. And this could be translated or taken as abstaining from meaningful constitutional amendment that will clip the wings of the Tatmadaw and would only dwell on minor changes that it could also agreed upon.
Sooner than later, the NLD will have to show its real intention, on whether it will opt for radical change or be satisfied with the prevailing status quo.