9 Dec 2012

Change of tack mooted by Myanmar group

2:52 pm on 9 December 2012

A group of New Zealand MPs pushing for political reform in Myanmar is now changing tack and instead wants to develop a relationship with the new government.

But Burmese who have settled in New Zealand are not convinced that the move to democracy is genuine and would prefer New Zealand continues to apply pressure.

A cross party parliamentary group on Myanmar was set up several years ago to explore ways in which the New Zealand Parliament might assist it in making democratic changes.

It opposed military rule in the country. But with the recent developments in Myanmar, Labour MP Maryan Street says the group's objectives may need to change.

A new civilian-led Government was sworn in in Myanmar last year and has implemented a series of economic and social reforms. It has also freed many political prisoners and relaxed media censorship.

Ms Street does not expect much resistance from political parties to the change, but she expects parts of the Burmese community will need some convincing.

President Thein Sein, was expected to visit New Zealand next week.

But the President on Thursday informed the Prime Minister's office that he is postponing the trip until a date, yet to be decided.