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Burmese Young Leader graduates from the Liberty and Leadership Forum visiting D.C.

Burmese Young Leaders Have Message for Washington: Sai One Leng Kham

July 12, 2017 3 minute Read by Christopher Walsh, Jieun Pyun
A select group of Burmese Young Leader graduates from the Liberty and Leadership Forum were in Washington meeting with policy makers. In a series of articles, they have outlined Burma’s greatest challenges and the need for U.S. leadership in Asia.

There is so much opportunity in Burma and Asia, unfortunately China, North Korea, and other challenges in the region threaten stability and stifle the spirit of human freedom. To help counter these challenges, the United States must engage with this region, cultivate partnerships, and champion the fundamental rights of people across Asia.

With this in mind, a select group of Burmese Young Leader graduates from the Liberty and Leadership Forum were in Washington, D.C. meeting with policy makers and thought leaders. In a series of articles, they have outlined Burma’s greatest challenges and the need for U.S. leadership in Asia.

Sai One Leng Kham, an elected representative to the Upper Parliament of Myanmar, is the third in a series of Q&A’s with the Bush Institute’s Young Leaders.

Read previous entries in this series:

Htet Htet Oo 

Myo Myint Aung

What are the three biggest challenges for Burma’s parliament?

  1. Our constitution says that the Burmese military must get 25 percent of the seats in parliament. Currently, changing the constitution is not possible without support from the appointed military representatives of parliament.
  2. One party won the majority of seats in parliament so there isn’t much competition of ideas when legislating. 
  3. Parliament is not a strong check and balance on the government because the military controls key ministries in the government such as Home Affairs.

How can the United States better support Burma’s parliament to legislate effectively and respond to voters?

The United States could help introduce lessons learned from other transitions to democracy. Help us understand how better civil-military relations in those transitions evolved and how the legislature and the military can cooperate. 

Is U.S. support for Burma’s democratic transition and its people important? Why?

U.S support for Burma’s democratic transition and its people is important, because Burma has a border with China. Significantly, China is trying influence Burma’s peace process. It is in the United States’ interest to make sure China is not the only voice the Burmese government and people are hearing.

Is U.S. engagement with the countries of Southeast Asia important?  Why?

U.S engagement with countries of Southeast Asia is important because some countries in Southeast Asia are backsliding from democracy, even transitioning to military rule. United States engagement is significant and it helps inspire those countries and people that face challenges in transitioning to democracy. 


Author

Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight. 

Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.

A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies.  He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.

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Jieun Pyun
Jieun Pyun

Jieun Pyun is a Manager for Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She is primarily responsible for development and implementation of the Liberty and Leadership Forum, an innovative educational and training program that equips young leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed during a democratic transition.  The program currently engages young leaders from Burma (Myanmar).

Prior to joining the Bush Center, Jieun was the communications director with the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and a fellow of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia at Southern Methodist University.

Jieun currently serves as a council member of the National Unification Advisory Council of the Republic of Korea and the Dallas/Fort Worth Association of Korean School Principals. As a proud member of the Korean Women's International Network, Jieun works to promote women’s leadership in local, national, and global politics and society. Jieun is a writer and presenter who has brought to light the many urgent issues suffered in North Korea. 

A native of South Korea, Jieun is a graduate of Southern Methodist University with an M.B.A and B.A. in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.

Full Bio