Concern Over High Military Budget

In a program aired on March 11, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses Burma’s budget, the problems of drug abuse, and the Burmese people’s disappointment at the results of the 2010 elections.


Q:  I am the secretary of the Karen Nationals Organization in Denmark. I would like to know what road the NLD will take in the future so that political changes can occur in Burma.

A:  I often hear the type of question you have asked. For political changes to occur, the main prerequisite is for the people to firmly believe that the changes they aspire to can be achieved only by themselves. The people must understand the strength that they have, and must work hard to use that strength in the right way. In reality, I cannot work on my own to achieve success in such matters. Even with the NLD [National League for Democracy], it is not enough.  All of the people who wish to achieve the goals we aspire to must put all their efforts together and work hard. Please also contribute your efforts.

Q:  I am calling from the state of Maryland in the United States. I would like to ask two questions with regard to the budget of Burma’s military government. First, the budget allocates only four percent of its expenditure to the education sector. My view is that this is very low. Second, it is my understanding that the Burmese government spends over 24 percent of its total expenditure for the military. Burma’s neighbors like China and India, I believe, spend only two percent of their total expenditures on the military. In the United States, where I am now, the American president has announced that he will spend 14 percent for the military and 14 percent for education. When we compare Burma’s budget expenditures with those of other countries, I see a big difference. What do you think of this issue?

A:  Although spending four percent of the budget expenditure for education is twice the level of two percent of the present level, we can say that it is absolutely still not enough. Our neighboring countries, which are ahead of us, spend much more than we do on education. We need to spend a lot more. In addition to allocating 24 percent of the total budget for the military, there are other expenditures related to the military, so it is actually more than 24 percent.

According to the Burma Gazette of Feb. 11, by law the amount of annual funds allocated for upholding the sovereignty of the country can be increased with the approval of the president, and this special fund can be used only by the chief of staff of the military. So the amount of funds used now for the military, and expected to be used in the future, is a lot more than the funds that have been allocated for health and education. I do not see this as a good sign for the development and progress of the country.

Q:  I am a Rohingya national and am studying law in Japan. The Rohingyas were suppressed by the previous government in many ways, and 200,000 Rohingyas have had to flee Burma as refugees to Bangladesh. I would like to know your views regarding this issue.

A:  From my point of view, I would like everyone—without discrimination as to race or religion—who is living in Burma to feel secure, to be in good health, and to be content. Only then will we believe that this is our country, that this is our Union—and that this is a country we can depend on, find refuge in, and work in for its progress and development. Then only, will Burma not have the bad reputation of being a country that produces refugees.

Q:  I work in Malaysia. I am very pleased to be able to listen to news about the democracy movement of Burma from RFA. A lot of Buddhists live in our country. If the Buddhists in our country really want democracy, and if they practice a lot of meditation, recite a lot of prayers, and send out lots of thoughts of loving-kindness—can we achieve democracy?

A:  If we look into the 10 episodes of the past lives of the Buddha, in his incarnation as the minister Witoriya he performed his duties very well. And as the learned minister Prince Mahawthada, he undertook many duties with excellence and great success. Accordingly, people who want to achieve democracy must also perform the duties that are required to achieve it. And in carrying out those duties, it would be best if they would strengthen their mindfulness and good actions by saying prayers, meditating, and spreading loving-kindness as well.

Q:  I am the general secretary of the Students and Youth organization. I would like your guidance on how the ethnic nationalities who are working for democracy and human rights both abroad and inside Burma can work together. Also, in the Palaung area in the northern Shan States, the lives of many young people have been wasted because of drugs. I would like to hear your opinion on how, for the sake of their future, they can be free from drugs.

A:  The first step for the young people from the ethnic nationalities who are working for democracy and human rights is to find ways to get in contact with one another. Those young people can come to the NLD and connect with each other through our party. In my meetings with young people, there have been many discussions about the problem of drugs. This is why I am thinking of planning to conduct an education program about drugs. We are also thinking about creating rehabilitation programs and implementing those programs as soon as possible

Q:  I am from Rangoon. When the NLD won the elections in 1990, everyone rejoiced at their victory. Now, in the 2010 elections, the [government-backed] Union Solidarity and Development Party won a one-sided victory, but the people were disappointed and not happy at all. Can you explain how this happened?

A:  What you say makes me happy as well as sad. The people were happy when the NLD won [in 1990] because they expected to realize the changes they had aspired to. Because we value the trust that the people have for the NLD, we will continue to endeavor to fulfill the people’s aspirations. I think that the 2010 election results did not give the people any hope, and thus it was an unhappy situation. But we will overcome this, and will continue with our duty to create a situation where the people will be happy and content.


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