Saturday, May 23, 2015Saturday, May 23, 2015

Exclusive: Myanmar ministers defend reform track records ahead of Kerry's visit

Published on Aug 9, 2014 11:47 AM
Myanmar Cabinet minister Soe Thane, one of the president's key ministers and a driver of reforms, told The Straits Times that critics should take a holistic view of Myanmar's complex transition to democracy, which after over four decades of military dictatorship, was proceeding faster than similar transitions elsewhere. -- ST PHOTO: NIRMAL GHOSH

MYANMAR ministers have robustly defended their government's track record ahead of a meeting today between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Myanmar President Thein Sein.

Mr Kerry is in Naypyitaw for meetings today and tomorrow with Asean foreign ministers and counterparts from Asean dialogue partners, including China, India and Australia. He will also meet Myanmar's influential speaker of parliament, Mr Shwe Mann. On Sunday in Yangon, he will meet Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Secretary of State has come under pressure from some human rights groups as well as Republicans in the US Congress to roll back some of the red carpet the Barack Obama administration has extended to Myanmar's government amid the three-year-old transition to democracy.

They have cited frequent violence against Muslims by right-wing Buddhists, which have left many dead and tens of thousands displaced, and a deteriorating media freedom climate. They have also questioned the sincerity of the reform efforts of the still essentially military-backed government.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!