The graduates included three politicians from each of the registered political parties in the Tanintharyi Region – including members of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the opposition National League for Democracy – and one member of the Regional Election Commission, according to a press release February 6.
The school is a joint venture of the Netherlands Institute of Multiparty Democracy, Demo Finland and Myanmar’s Union Election Commission, the aim being to strengthen the democratic role of political parties in a multi-party setting and advance multi-party dialogue.
Participants were effectively cloistered in closed retreat 24 hours a day for four one-week periods over two months, supposedly “providing a serene setting to fully absorb the knowledge” and give participants the chance to “know each other across party lines.”
The diplomas were awarded by Tanintharyi Region Chief Minister U Myat Ko, NIMD Programme Manager Ms Maaike van der Werf and Demo Finland’s Executive Director Ms Tiina Kukkamaa-Bah.
Chief Minister U Myat Ko, a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, said that no matter what our differences are and what party we belong to, we all live in Tanintharyi Region and together we are aiming to try hard to develop the area.
“We may have different perspectives on things but that no longer stops us from moving forward together,” he said at the event.
Ms van der Werf said they were impressed by the positive attitude of the participating politicians towards multiparty learning, both in terms of executive level politicians and “up-and-coming” politicians.
The attendance rate was impressive. As over 90 percent of the participants stuck with the programme, it “shows the enormous motivation of the students,” she said.
Since 2000, the NIMD has set up similar schools in eight countries, including Indonesia. The Myanmar School of Politics has been designed by the NIMD and Demo Finland to cater for the Myanmar political and social context.