Q: While you were under house arrest, the NLD spokesperson U Nyan Win would often tell foreign media that you had passed on a certain message or given your opinion on some matter. Were those quotes things that you had actually said, or did some of them represent U Nyan Win’s own thoughts?
A: A spokesperson must know his duty and responsibility and be accurate in what he says. U Nyan Win, in addition to being a reliable spokesperson for the National League for Democracy, is also a legal expert. He understands that it is not proper to quote something that has not actually been said. He has never quoted something that was not said by me, because he is a respected gentleman who values his integrity. He has always repeated only what I told him to say.
Q: I have learned that you recently met and held discussions with the U.N. Secretary General’s advisor Mr. Nambiar and with U.S. [Deputy] Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Yun. Could you tell us openly, what matters of importance to Burma’s politics did you discuss with these men?
A: We have already issued a general press release with regard to the discussions on Burma held with Mr. Nambiar and Mr. Yun. It is not our practice to talk about the details of these kind of discussions. Each side has to respect confidentiality. Only then can we talk to each other in trust and confidence.
Q: At the 2011 Gwangju Human Rights Award ceremony, you gave a video message which was heard with deep feeling by the international community. And at this gathering, people made a commitment and pledge to work together to eliminate the dire human rights situation in Burma. We know that you are busy at the moment, but do you have plans to personally attend this kind of international gathering in the future?
A: At this time, I am not thinking about traveling abroad. But as much as possible, I will continue to send video messages like the one that I sent to the Gwangju ceremony to other international gatherings that are held with regard to human rights, civil society, and democracy.
Q: In the past, [former military dictator] General Ne Win changed his name to U Ne Win and governed our country, destroying it. As a result, there was a huge uprising by the people. Now, on the instructions of [junta leader] General Than Shwe, General Thein Sein has changed his name to U Thein Sein and formed a government. What do you think of this government?
A: Taking into consideration what has happened in the past, we are studying the present changes carefully to find out to what extent these changes are real and to what extent they will benefit the country. This is not looking at it from a negative point of view, but I don’t think that caution can ever be too excessive.
Q: In an interview on May 17, the leader of the Democratic Myanmar Party, U Thu Wai, said that it was the NLD’s “confrontational approach” that led to the negative result for political prisoners in the general amnesty. He seems to have been referring to the signature campaign demanding the release of political prisoners. I absolutely cannot accept his accusation. What do you think of his comments?
A: I personally have not heard what U Thu Wai said, so let me answer on principle with regard to this matter. As far as I know, democracy parties as well as other parties have demanded the release of political prisoners, so it is an unjust accusation to say that the political prisoners were not released because [a signature campaign was organized to call for their release]. When something that should be done is not done, one can discover where the fault lies by considering whether it is the fault of the person who has asked for the act to be carried out, or the fault of the person who fails to carry it out.
I would like to ask you and your colleagues to participate and add your signatures to our campaign calling for the release of political prisoners. The more the people of Burma participate in this, the better it will be.
Q: I am a housewife and have to spend at least 5,000-7,000 kyat (U.S. $6.5-$9) a day to look after five persons in our family. One bag of rice costs 35,000 kyat and peanut oil costs 4,400 kyat per 3.6 pounds. I dare not use palm oil, which is cheaper, because it is not good for our health. It is very difficult to make ends meet with such high costs of living. I understand that the NLD is not the party in power, but I think they may be able to give some advice to the new government of U Thein Sein. I would like to ask you to help.
A: I think that the present government that has come to power will, to a certain extent, try to do what the people want by dealing with the issue of rising prices. It wants to prove to the Burmese people, as well as to the world, that they are different from the previous government and that they are not a military government. As for the NLD, where politics and economics are concerned, we will say whatever needs to be said on the appropriate occasions.
Q: I welcome the fact that consecutive U.N. special envoys have tried to help on the Burma issue. But whenever the Burma problem is presented to the U.N. Security Council, nothing comes of it, as this has always been opposed by the veto power of China and Russia. Therefore, I would like to know whether there are other ways to resolve the problems in our country.
A: We have always been urging the U.N. to do whatever it can so that Burma can achieve democracy. But we are not relying only on the United Nations. That is why, at the same time that we are trying to get the Security Council to pass the appropriate resolutions, the people of Burma must use different methods to work toward establishing our country in accordance with the type of system we want.