A diplomat from the British Embassy in Rangoon met with member of a Karen political party to discuss ethnic issues and the ongoing political reforms taking place in Burma.
Mr Joseph Fisher, the second secretary at the British Embassy said at the meeting with the Phalon Sawaw Democratic Party (PSDP), that ethnic issues are a crucial factor in Burma’s transition to democracy.
Mr Fisher met with PSDP members at Taungkalay Monastery in Hpa-an, Karen State, on July 21. The two parties discussed ethnic issues in Burma and Mr Fisher pointed out that within Burma’s current reform environment, the international community is more aware of ethnic issues than it was in the past.
“The international community knows more about ethnic affairs now. The British government is also paying more attention to the peace process. However, we will still need to wait for some years yet to see improvements and changes.”
The deputy chairman of PSDP, Mahn Aung Pyi Soe, said that the purpose of the meeting with Mr. Fisher was to discuss about the situation in Karen State, the State Parliament, the ceasefire agreements signed between the Burma government and the ethnic armed groups and the perspectives of the British government and its views on economic investment.
In the meeting, Mahn Aung Pyi Soe told Mr. Fisher about the weakness of the Karen State government in handling the land confiscations cases, the production and trafficking of narcotic drugs and gambling. Corruption in Burma was also discussed and identified as a big problem. Both parties agreed that those issues could only be handled if there is rule of law in Burma.
During the meeting, Saw Min Aung Linn, a PSDP state parliament member said that the government needs to loosen central control in order to enhance the reforming process.
“In Karen State parliament, everything is controlled by the ruling party [USDP] and the chief Minister. If central control is reduced, the Karen State parliament will be stronger in terms of its legislation – it will make it e better than it is now.”
Saw Min Aung Linn said currently the Karen State parliament is setting up three laws – the village firewood plantation law, a municipal law and a taxing intoxicating drug law.