(Editorial) - In the democratic system of government, civil societies and NGOs play a crucial role. Strong civil societies provide awareness to people on various socio-political issues, encourage people’s participation in development initiatives, protect civil rights and enhance capacity building.
Many social organizations in Myanmar were formed by the military regime to support their policies. It is of utmost importance and urgency that these organizations transform themselves into independent organizations.
Organization such as Myanmar Women’s Federation, Myanmar Maternal and Childcare Organization, were formed by the military with public funds. It is high time for them to sever their previous connections. They have the responsibility to transform into independent and efficient organizations free from government influence.
The first step towards transformation of these organizations into independent ones should be doing away the previous procedure of appointment of office bearers by government authorities and electing office-bearers by popular vote. Secondly, they should make financial matters transparent. The management and utilization of assets should be decided and executed in a democratic manner. In brief, this is the time for all of the organizations to reform themselves into accountable and transparent organizations.
To state a case in point, it will be beneficial for people in general and women in particular, if civil societies like the Myanmar Women Federation start working for protection of women’s rights, development and capacity building effectively and ensure transparency in the initiatives that they take up.
There were reports recently suggesting that some of these organizations have leased out their public land and properties to businessmen for commercial benefits. The dissatisfied people protested against the transfer of public space to business entities and commercialization of these assets.
During the time of of the military junta, the government supported organizations acted as puppets of government authorities. They enjoyed the privilege right of using public owned land, properties and state funds as they wished. In return, They only supported and complemented government policies. Therefore, they failed to work for the people.
However, things are changing for the better in our country now. The country is going through a historic transition to democracy. The civil societies and NGOs should undergo a simultaneous transition and start working for the people, not the government. They should fulfill their mission statement and what they stand for and stop supporting government policies blindly. Mizzima urges them make welfare of the people their first, second and third priority.