'The People Give Us Strength'

In her latest weekly conversation with listeners, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses the state of Burmese politics and her recent telephone call with US President Barack Obama.
2011-12-02
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Q:  All of us agree with the risks you are taking by being involved in Burmese politics. But everybody knows that the present government is made up of military personnel who have turned themselves into civilians, stolen votes, and cheated in the elections in order to unjustly take over government power. Don’t you think that by completely trusting them and cooperating with them, this would be like betting all of your money on a soccer match?

A:  Just as I have no interest in gambling, I also do not completely put my trust in any one particular thing. But I do take risks, if risks must be taken after due consideration of a situation. Also, I do believe that in order to establish a stable peace in our country in the long run, we must build good relations between the people and the military.

Q:  I understand that the NLD has now decided to register and compete in the elections. Was this decision taken only after taking into account the wishes of the grassroots NLD members and those of the people’s representatives who were elected in 1990 by all of the people? And after the elections are held, to what extent will you and the NLD be able to disrupt, manipulate, and cooperate in parliament, where the majority of the seats are overwhelmingly held by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)? Also, to what extent will you and the NLD be able to put your efforts into amending the 2008 Constitution?

A:  By now, you would have already heard the news from inside Burma concerning how the NLD Central Committee came to its decision. You would also know that not all of the people’s representatives who won the elections in 1990 were NLD members—and that even among the NLD members who won, some have now formed other parties and participated in the 2010 elections. The NLD did not decide to participate in the elections with the idea of disrupting, manipulating, or cooperating with the USDP in the parliament. Instead, we want to do as much as we can for the country, not only from outside the parliament but from within. Amending the constitution will be included in these efforts.

Q:  There are concerns that the recent demonstrations by Buddhist monks in Mandalay may have adversely affected the talks going on between you and President U Thein Sein. What kind of message would you like to give to those people who are thinking this?

A:  The demonstrations by the monks have now ended. Those demonstrations have not adversely affected our efforts.

Q:  I have heard the advisors of President U Thein Sein say that one’s view of the president’s current activities can be compared to seeing a glass half full or half empty. I was happy and encouraged to hear you say at your Nov. 14 press conference that rather than looking to see whether the glass is half full or half empty, one should see the situation as it is, see what is actually in the glass, and then do what is best, based on where one is and what the situation is. I would like to know how I can help so that the people of Burma can have that kind of courage and spiritual strength.

A:   I think that your encouragement of our efforts would involve urging people from other countries to contribute to our cause as much as they can, whether with a block of brick or a grain of sand. We can never say enough how the support of the people gives us strength in the work that we do. I would like to ask you to keep on helping us by continuing to do whatever you can to assist the democracy movement in its organizing and lobbying activities.

Q:  I have heard that you spoke with U.S. President Obama on the telephone. What kind of things did you discuss with President Obama regarding Burma? I would also like to know what your view is with regard to the possibility of the U.S. easing economic sanctions on Burma in the future.

A:  The White House Press Office has already released information on the matters that were discussed during my conversation with President Obama. I do not have anything to add to that. I would like to say that President Obama has a very friendly manner of speaking. I believe that the U.S. government, as it has repeatedly said, will remove its economic sanctions once the conditions that were laid out when the sanctions were first imposed are fulfilled.

Broadcast on Nov. 25, 2011.