In an interview with reporter Kyaw Kyaw Aung of RFA’s Myanmar Service, Ashin Wirathu of the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion (Ma Ba Tha) congratulates Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) on its expected victory in Myanmar’s general election and says his Buddhist nationalist group will accept a government formed by her party.
RFA: How do you view the NLD’s expected victory at the polls?
ASHIN WIRATHU: We monks, the sons of Buddha, rejoice for the winners and express compassion for the losers. We welcome the NLD’s victory.
RFA: People who desire change are excited by the prospect of development in Myanmar. What is your opinion on change?
ASHIN WIRATHU: It is through politics that our country is going to develop. We have concerns about the stability of parliamentary politics, national security, and safeguarding religion and the national identity.
RFA: What are your concerns regarding religion and the national identity?
ASHIN WIRATHU: For the most part, those who are pushing for “human rights and equality,” and those who are referred to as “minorities,” depend too much on the NLD. The NLD frequently uses these terms when it speaks with international organizations. We are concerned about whether [a government formed by] the party will make demands and push forward on these issues.
RFA: How should the NLD act to reduce your concerns?
ASHIN WIRATHU: We don’t want the NLD to be remove laws on race and religion, and think it should protect them. The NLD has said it will amend the 1982 [law on citizenship] and we don’t want that. There should be no negotiations on [the citizenship status of the ethnic Muslim Rohingya], and the NLD should stand by the country’s religion and national identity.
RFA: International community has accused Myanmar’s government of violating human rights during President Thein Sein’s term. Do you think there will be less human rights violations and more development under an NLD government?
ASHIN WIRATHU: As a person who had to lead a crippled country out of a troubled era [during the former military regime], of course [Thein Sein] experienced some difficulties. We are sympathetic towards Thein Sein. He has built a foundation in these five years. We pray that [the new government] can now build a roof and walls.
RFA: There are concerns about how power will transfer from President Thein Sein’s government to a new one. What is your opinion?
ASHIN WIRATHU: I believe that the power transfer will be smooth.
RFA: Do you have any suggestions for a would-be NLD government?
ASHIN WIRATHU: My suggestion to an NLD government is to consider advice and suggestions from everyone.
RFA: Some people have expressed concern that there could be a confrontation between Ma Ba Tha and the NLD in the future. Do you want to respond to this?
ASHIN WIRATHU: These concerns are from people who don’t understand how a democracy works. In fact, all of our members who are nationalists understand democratic rules and follow them. We will accept any government that is chosen by the people and welcome it. We will have no confrontation with an NLD-led government. We work only in the interest of religion and national identity.
Reported by Kyaw Kyaw Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar.