Interview: ‘We Cannot Accept People Dying,’ Says Myanmar NUG Health Minister

"I do not want (the junta) to push hundreds of thousands of people to their deaths," says physician Zaw Wai Soe, who serves as the parallel National Unity Government's minister of health and education
Interview: ‘We Cannot Accept People Dying,’ Says Myanmar NUG Health Minister A protester holding signs supporting the newly formed opposition National Unity Government (NUG) during a demonstration against the military coup in the southern Myanmar city of Dawei, April 29, 2021.

Dr. Zaw Wai Soe is a physician who serves in Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government as minister of health and education, said. He spoke to Aye Aye Mon of RFA’s Myanmar Service about the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the military junta’s pressure on the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and other opponents of the Feb. 1 military takeover. Following is an excerpt from the interview.

RFA: The military has arrested Dr. Htar Htar Lin, chief of the COVID-19 vaccination program on June 10. They said she is not only a hard-core CDM member, but had also held online meetings with you to implement a plan for the NUG. What do you have to say about that?

Zaw Wai Soe: Think of this: Who really is the government and who really are working for the people? Only governments who have the support of the people can win the fight against COVID-19. Our country is one of the few countries to overcome the first wave. I'm really sorry for Dr. Htar Htar Lin. When the second wave came, Aung San Suu Kyi as well as we doctors were telling the people what they should or shouldn't do almost every day. Some doctors hardly sleep at all. Only those governments working for people with love and goodwill can have success. A pandemic cannot be overcome without people's participation. A military dictatorship who doesn't have any love or support from the people cannot fight this kind of pandemic.

RFA: They showed a video file at the last news conference in Naypyidaw in which you were saying that even a small envelope with poisonous stuff in it can kill people. Was that video file real? 

Zaw Wai Soe: The video file was real, but doctored. They edited it and showed only what they wanted to show. We don't and will not encourage or do this sort of thing. We cannot accept people dying. We don't want to see people killed. I am a doctor and we feel terribly upset if a patient dies in our hands. 

RFA: At the news conference they made very serious accusations against the National League for Democracy. What's your take on that?

Zaw Wai Soe: I am not a politician. I have no color nor party ties with any. I am a doctor who has joined CDM. I just stand for people. I had given treatment in the past to NLD leaders as well as top senior military officers. This 2021 Spring Revolution has nothing to do with political parties. It is meaningless to push ahead like this. I do not want them to push hundreds of thousands of people to their deaths. I want to tell the military from here: Do not do it. It will not be a solution for you or the country. 

 Translated by Khin Maung Nyane.


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Jun 19, 2021 12:14 AM

If they can't accept people dying, why do they call on health workers to boycott hospitals and threaten those who continue to work according to the hippocratic oath they took? And why are those questions not posed by RFA to NUG?