Myanmar’s parliament elected Htin Kyaw as the country’s new president yesterday in a watershed moment that ushers the longtime opposition party of Aung San Suu Kyi into government after 54 years of direct or indirect military rule.
The joint session of the two houses of parliament broke into thundering applause as the speaker Mann Win Khaing Than announced the result: “I hereby announce the president of Myanmar is Htin Kyaw, as he won the majority of votes.”
Immediately, the state-run Myanmar TV’s camera zoomed in from above on a beaming Aung San Suu Kyi, sitting in the front row, clapping excitedly, for a live nationwide audience.
The 70-year-old Htin Kyaw, a longtime confidant of Aung San Suu Kyi, is to take office on April 1, but questions remain about his position and power.
Rightfully, the job belonged to Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been the face of the pro-democracy movement and who endured decades of house arrest and harassment by military rulers without ever giving up on her non violent campaign to unseat them.
However, a constitutional provision barred her from becoming president, and she made it clear that whoever sits in that chair would be her proxy.
Still, Htin Kyaw will be remembered by history as the first civilian president for Myanmar and the head of its first government to be elected in free and fair polls.
After the parliament session ended, Aung San Suu Kyi did not comment as she exited, leaving the new president to deliver the first reaction.
“This is a victory for the people of this country,” Htin Kyaw said in a brief comment to reporters.
He secured 360 votes from among 652 ballots cast in the bicameral parliament, where the vote count was read aloud and announced by a parliament official.
The military’s nominee, Myint Swe, won 213 votes and will become the first vice president. Htin Kyaw’s running mate from the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, Henry Van Tio, won 79 votes and is to take the post of second vice president.
“We are very satisfied with the result of the presidential election,” said Tun Win, a legislator from the Arakan National Party. “He really should be the leader. I hope he can lead this country to peace and stability, equality and implement the rule of law in this country.”
Htin Kyaw, who has known Aung San Suu Kyi since grade school, became her confidant and adviser on foreign relations.
As Myanmar lurched from one political crisis to another, Aung San Suu Kyi was released and re-arrested several times. The junta finally started loosening its grip on power in 2010, allowing elections, which were won by a military-allied party after the NLD boycotted the polls as unfair.
After more reforms, another general election was held on Nov. 8 last year that was swept by the NLD, a reflection of Aung San Suu Kyi’s widespread public support.
The constitutional clause that denied her the presidency excludes anyone from the job who has a foreign spouse or children. Aung San Suu Kyi’s two sons are British, as was her late husband. The clause is widely seen as having been written by the military with Aung San Suu Kyi in mind.
TWO REPORTS: The body called on EU states to support the meaningful participation of Taiwan in international organizations, as well as closer cooperation with the nation The European Parliament has backed deepening ties with Taiwan and voiced concern about heightened tension across the Taiwan Strait in reports on two major security policies, which include a passage denying that Taiwan is subordinate to China. The parliament adopted the annual report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in a vote of 338 in favor, 86 against and 122 abstentions during a plenary session from Monday to yesterday. It also passed the annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defense Policy in a vote of 350 in favor, 91 against and 96 abstentions. “Neither Taiwan
NEVER FORGET: Feb. 28 is a day to demand justice and redress, and remember the long, hard road Taiwanese walked to democracy, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che said President-elect William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said he would work to safeguard the nation’s security and democracy to ensure freedom and economic prosperity, and that the tragic events of the 228 Incident “never happen in Taiwan again.” The Incident refers to the indiscriminate killing of a person in a crowd on Feb. 27, 1947, and the gunning down by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of protesters at a resulting demonstration the next day. It was followed by a brutal crackdown. Estimates of the number of eventual deaths vary from 10,000 to more than 30,000. The Incident was closely followed by the White
CRITICAL COMPONENTS: The tail was shielded because ‘enemy forces’ could estimate its speed and acoustic fingerprint by observing the propellers, an analyst said The nation’s first domestically built submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (海鯤號), yesterday was transferred to a dry dock for final harbor acceptance tests. The prototype has been undergoing harbor acceptance tests at the factory of shipbuilder CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台灣國際造船) in Kaohsiung since October last year after an unveiling ceremony in late September. On Monday evening, the prototype was towed from the CSBC factory to nearby Jong Shyn floating dock No. 8 and then transferred to a nearby dry dock, where the final tests were being conducted. As the submarine was being moved out of the factory to the floating dock, a large
NATIONALITY ACT: The draft amendments include a new provision that allows guardians of children who are stateless to apply for nationality on their behalf The Cabinet yesterday approved draft amendments to the Nationality Act (國籍法) to ease residency requirements for some foreign professionals applying for naturalization and to allow social welfare agencies to apply for naturalization on behalf of stateless children who are residents. The proposed amendments were approved by the Cabinet in September last year, but had to be reapproved and resubmitted because of the new legislative term that began on Feb. 1. The Ministry of the Interior said that the draft amendments would help improve the retention of professional talent by cutting the required period of residency for “foreign high-level professionals” (外國高級專業人才) applying for