Having implemented a range of democratic reforms over the last 4 months, Myanmar is turning its attention to how it is going to modernise its aged economy, following an easing of international sanctions against the country.
President Thein Sein visited Singapore on a four day visit, signing a Memorandum of Understanding on technical cooperation outlining a suite of training that Singapore will provide to help with the country's development. Training will be provided in economic development, human and resource development, and public administration to help build Myanmar's economic base and pool of skilled workers. Courses will also be conducted to provide instruction in subjects such as trade and tourist promotion, information technology and English.
Special training will also be given to prepare Myanmar officials for the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014. Elsewhere, Myanmar education minister toured schools and universities to see how Myanmar's educational system could be improved.
Sein's visit is seen as a push to gather regional support for the country's reforms, as he seeks an end to all European and US sanctions.
During his visit to Singapore, Sein emphasised that his country would continue on its path of democratic reforms, calling for further encouragement from neighbours and the international community.
"The international community should render its support and encouragement to our effort to meet our objectives because a young democratic nation has emerged on this planet," Thein Sein said at a dinner in his honour.
"We have turned a new page in our country in order to create better conditions in Myanmar. We want to give a brighter future for our people.We want our people to take part in the democratic reform process and we want democracy to thrive in Myanmar. I wish to assure you that I shall endeavour to establish a healthy democracy in Myanmar."
Economically, experts have stated that Myanmar could experience rapid economic growth, if sanctions are lifted, and reforms made. The IMF has released a report predicting the country's economy will grow at a rate of 5.5 per cent for 2012 but questions remain about the readiness for business and investment. With ample natural resources in oil and gas, as well as minerals and a strategic location in Asia, many are hopeful that change will come to both the political and economic system concurrently.
Report: Myanmar Taps Singapore for Training on Economic, Monetary Policy (Businessweek, 2 February 2012)
Report: Myanmar president vows 'healthy democracy' (AFP, 30 January 2012)
Report: Myanmar and Singapore sign MOU on technical cooperation (Straits Times, 31 January 2012)