'Talk To The Government' About Change

In her latest weekly conversation with listeners, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses her connection to the Burmese people and relations with the country's new government.

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Q:  I have noticed that in the past, before the Depayin incident, you would often make trips around the country to meet with the people whenever you were released from house arrest. But following your release this time, I have not seen you make trips around the country except for your trip to Pegu. This has meant that there have been fewer occasions for you to meet with the people. Why have you stopped making these trips? Is it because these trips would upset the government and disrupt the present relations you have with them? Also, do you have any plans to travel and encourage the people who have been suffering because of the floods that are occurring all over Burma?

A:  First, I would like to clarify that it is not true that I have made trips around the country whenever I was released from house arrest. In 1995 and in 2000, when I was released for the second time, I never made trips around the country, because of restrictions. Between 2002 and 2003, and up until the Depayin incident, I did make trips around the country. But this time, since my trip to Pegu, although I have thought about making trips around the country I have been unable to do so because there is a lot of work to be done in Rangoon. Plans have already been made for the NLD to distribute rice to the flood victims as much as possible. I think that it would be better to distribute rice in this manner than to spend money to travel across the country.

Q:  I have heard that following your release from house arrest you have been planning to convene a Second Panglong Conference to discuss the ethnic nationalities in our country. What is the situation with regard to the conference during this time when you are meeting and talking with President U Thein Sein? How will work be carried out with regard to this conference?

A:  One can say that the Second Panglong Conference is a requirement in forming the Union of Burma. There is no reason to ignore this requirement, no matter what other issues there are. There have been delays in convening the Second Panglong because there a lot of practical questions to be considered.

Q:  Recently released political prisoners are facing a lot of problems because they were given only 1,000 kyat (U.S. $1.10) to cover the costs of their travel back home. One has to respect the NLD for also providing 10,000 kyat per person, but in fact it is the absolute responsibility of the government to cover such costs. At this time, with the formation of the Human Rights Commission, do you think that by reporting this issue to the Commission, those losses suffered by the political prisoners will be recovered? Also, some of the Buddhist monks who were released after being jailed unjustly are facing problems because they have been turned away by the abbots of the monasteries where they resided before they were imprisoned. How should we respond to those abbots who are now so afraid that they selfishly consider only their own interests by turning those monks away?

A:  We will know to what extent the Human Rights Commission will help with the losses suffered by political prisoners only if we ask for their help. I would like you to inform the Commission about the losses that have been suffered and to ask that these be dealt with appropriately. One will not know if one does not try. As for the monks  who have been turned away by their monasteries, only the monks themselves will know how this issue may be dealt with according to the monastic rules and regulations.  The best thing would be for you to ask those abbots about this who are thoroughly versed in the teachings dealing with monastic life.

Q:  I am a Shan national. I received my master’s degree in English from a university in Tokyo after conducting research in how the Burmese government-controlled English-language newspapers wrote about democracy during the period of military rule. I have written articles about your speeches and the views of NLD leader U Win Tin regarding democracy in my university magazine, and I will soon be preparing a doctoral thesis. Could you advise me as to what research topic would most help Burma and Burmese democracy?

A:  It would be best if you discuss the topic of your research with the supervisors for your thesis. If I may express my own interest, I would say that it would be beneficial to study why we have not been able to achieve genuine peace among the ethnic nationalities so that the Union spirit in our country can be strengthened.

Q:  The discussions that you have been having with the recently formed government seem to be quite successful, especially with regard to national reconciliation. You have said before that it is not possible for you to work all on your own, and that everyone must work together. We, as citizens, would also like to work together. What kind of guidelines can you give us so that we can do this and help to speed up the process going on between you and the government?

A:  The first requirement would be to talk to the government so that they know what you want to happen. Next, you should inform the departments concerned about the changes you want, and then demand these, based on precise facts. Then, if you want to get further involved, I would like you to join the work of our democracy network. If the people are active and enthusiastic, the government will also become active and the country will develop. If all of you are active in this manner, the road toward political change will be smooth, and our cooperation will be more effective.

Broadcast on Oct. 28, 2011.


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