Q: I work in Singapore. I really love reading, but magazines are very expensive in Singapore so I try to buy only those that I really want to read. The People’s Journal is one of those. When I saw your article in the People’s Journal, I was so happy and pleased. I love the writings in your series “Letters From Burma: Recreational Days of Rest” so much that I look forward to reading them, but the second installment in the series was the last one published in the magazine. Could you tell me if you have stopped writing the series, or if there have been some kind of difficulties?
A: There was a break in the series “Recreational Days of Rest” because some parts of the third and fourth installments had to be discussed with the Press Scrutiny Board. This has now been sorted out, and the publisher says that the installments will be continued. I am happy to know that you like those articles.
Q: I have been seeing on government Internet blogs and e-mails that there are attacks on the work you have been doing. Do you think the government is really sincere in its relations with you?
A: When you get into politics, you are bound to be criticized. Some person or organization will always be criticizing you. My view is that if the criticism is acceptable, you must change accordingly. But if it is not true, you should just ignore it.
Q: The law that was recently issued permitting people to peacefully assemble and demonstrate says that the speeches to be made and slogans to be raised on those occasions must be submitted for approval in advance. The law also says that the group organizing those demonstrations must submit the record of its decisions regarding the demonstrations. Do you think that this law accords with the Burmese people’s right to freedom?
A: The right to freedom should not be seen as something that is different for the people of Burma and the people of other countries. We would like the people of Burma to enjoy genuine democratic freedom. We intend to analyze this law based on the comments of legal experts who say that it is not fully comprehensive.
Q: I think that it is very important for the Burmese people to learn the art of human relations and to have a mature attitude and be able to accept criticisms and not see criticisms as personal attacks. I believe that this would be very beneficial to finding solutions through negotiations. How can we help to bring about the acquisition of such attributes?
A: Attitudes and human relations are things that have to be cultivated from childhood and in one’s own family environment. Now in our country there are so many matters of the mind that need to be changed that we must struggle as much as possible, with the use of modern communication technologies, to bring about those changes. This is not an easy situation. We will have to find answers from our own religion and culture, as well as by studying other cultures.
Q: I believe that it is up to each individual and to everyone to develop democracy and reject dictatorial governments. Therefore, I would like to know how I can help so that the people of Burma will have the strength and courage to point out what is not right in the country and to express their true feelings and say what is really in their hearts.
A: One way to accomplish this is for you yourself to do what needs to be done and show the way. But if problems arise because of this, there are some people who will become afraid. If you do what needs to be done, though, this will encourage others to do the same. For people to have the courage to act, there must be laws to protect them in doing the right thing. We must all work hard to achieve this.
Broadcast on Dec. 23, 2011.