Q: Why is it against the law to possess foreign currency in Burma? When we get hold of foreign currencies like American dollars, we have to change them into Burmese currency at the money-exchange brokers, where we are exploited. They change the currency into any amount they want, so we lose a lot. What rights do citizens in foreign countries have with regard to the possession of foreign currency?
A: The rules and regulations pertaining to possession of foreign currencies are different from one country to another. In countries where free market economies operate, hard currencies can be freely exchanged.
Q: I am a housewife. Whenever I go shopping, the scarcity of coins for change is a big problem. Shopkeepers often give you goods as change, so you end up getting things that you do not want or need. I would like to know why this government does not issue more coins.
A: One can say that coins have not been issued because of the high price of metals. In actual fact, it is also partly because of mismanagement in economic planning.
Q: Now, in Burma-China relations, the Chinese ignore the desires and views of the Burmese people and only look out for their own interests. How do you see this issue? And what type of relationship would you like to build with China?
A: It would be very difficult for foreign countries to take unfair advantage of our country if there were a government that protects the interests of our people in a strong and steadfast manner. Our National League for Democracy would like to build a relationship with China in accordance with the two principles of good neighborliness and taking responsibility for the interests of the people.
Q: Whenever the foreign-based leaders of our revolutionary democracy forces come to Korea, we arrange for them to meet with officials from the Korean Foreign Ministry. [The questioner is a member of the NLD Liberated Area organization.] But in May 2011, when persons responsible for foreign affairs from the Thai/Burma border-based democracy forces arrived in South Korea, the foreign ministry declined to meet with them. The reason for this seemed to be that there has now been a change from a military government to a civilian government. What do you think about this matter?
A: Although the South Korean foreign office has declined for now, I would like you to try again in the future. We from our side will also try our best so that relations between foreign governments and our democracy forces will become good and friendly. I would also like to remind you that it is important for the democracy forces to develop warm and friendly relations not only with the South Korean government, but also with the South Korean people.
Q: What type of relationship do you think there should be between Burma and the United States?
A: It would be best if we have relations that are appropriate, fair, and friendly not only with the United States but with any country. To have this happen, both sides must make an effort to do so willingly.
Q: I am the campaign manager from Burma Democratic Concern (BDC). President U Thein Sein’s advisor Dr. Nay Zin Latt has said, “We will meet and discuss and cooperate with anybody who has good intentions for the country. And this should come about in time.” What do you think they mean when they say “anybody who has good intentions for the country”? Also, why is it not known when such discussions can take place?
A: Discussions can be held at a moment’s notice if there is real willingness to do so. Whether or not one has good intentions for the country cannot be decided by one side only. I think that this can be surmised by whether or not one really wants a solution, and by whether or not one is just taking a long time to [agree to talks].
Q: The present government says that the NLD is illegal. Recognizing and respecting the wishes of the people in accordance with the results of the 1990 elections, you have stood by the NLD. What kind of political relations will the NLD have with the people from the so-called “new government”?
A: Relationships are matters that concern both parties. We respect and emphasize the rule of law, so we have pointed out from a legal perspective that voiding the registration of the NLD is illegal. We will now submit this matter to the United Nations Human Rights Council as well. Not only our relations with the present government, but also the status of the NLD as a political party, will be based on the support of the people.
Program broadcast in Burmese on June 24, 2011