Q: What response have you had with regard to your mediation efforts for the cessation of the fighting in ethnic areas? Also, I understand that you have had two meetings with Minister U Aung Kyi since the government of President U Thein Sein came into power. I would like to know whether changes resulting in the betterment and development of the people will come about from those meetings.
A: Many people have given genuine support to my call for peace. It is not surprising that we are not seeing results immediately, but if everyone works as best as they can, peace will eventually come about. As I stated in the press release regarding my meeting with Minister U Aung Kyi, I see that there could be potential for cooperation that will benefit the people. Although this is just a beginning, I must say that it is a positive beginning.
Q: Can you tell me if you are satisfied with your first political trip to the Pegu Division since your release from house arrest? Can you share some of the experiences you had during that political tour? I am asking this because I am from a family that had to flee from one of the villages that were completely destroyed by the military government in the Kyaukkyi Township in the Pegu Division.
A: I am satisfied with my tour of the Pegu Division. It gives me great pleasure to be in touch with those people and to be able to connect with them. Everyone concerned was happy because of the cooperation given by the authorities as well. I had sent some people to investigate the situation in the Kyaukkyi area, as I had recently received a letter regarding Kyaukkyi. But since we received only general statements, we did not know how to help the people. We will arrange to send another investigative team based on the letter that you have sent to us now.
Q: I once heard in one of your messages that the activities of democracy activists living abroad must be a source of energy for people inside the country, and that they must also complement the activities of democracy activists inside the country. Please tell us how we, the democracy activists living abroad, can continue to help Burma’s democracy movement. You have also said that if we exchange views that are different and find agreeable solutions, we will one day be able to meet again in Burma and work together for our mother country. What will it take for those inside the country and those who are abroad to work together with increased momentum and a constant awareness of our country’s needs?
A: It is really very important for the democratic forces both abroad and in the country to work together with an understanding of each other. It is important for them to put aside their own beliefs and what they themselves want to do, and to work on practical things that will benefit the country. They must all analyze the true situation regarding what is happening inside the country and coordinate with each other to properly decide how best to support the movement. The most important thing is to think and make decisions in a pure and cool manner.
Q: How will your meetings and cooperation with the new government benefit the party? And how likely is it that cooperation will help democracy in Burma?
A: We issued a statement after my meeting with U Aung Kyi, and I think that statement should now have been posted on the Internet. On August 15, the executive committee of the National League for Democracy issued a statement supporting the meetings and the statement that was issued afterward.
Q: For the past 14 years, I have been working to provide information about Burma to the people of Japan on issues such as human rights, democracy development, and economic aid. At present, there is a likelihood that the Japanese government will increase its economic aid to Burma. In doing this, the Japanese government will decide, on an individual basis, on projects that will directly reach the Burmese people and provide them with their basic needs. Could you give us some examples of projects that would directly benefit the Burmese people?
A: The most important thing about any kind of aid given is that there should be accountability and transparency, and that all projects involved should be subject to independent monitoring to make sure that the necessary ethical and technical standards are met. I don’t know what kind of aid the Japanese government is contemplating or how they will ensure that whatever is given goes directly to the people. This kind of information should be made public to satisfy both the Japanese taxpayer and the Burmese people.
Q: You are constantly in communication with the United Nations and with foreign governments. You also have to deal with political groups inside the country. Therefore, I wonder whether it would be a good idea for you to appoint and have at your side experts both from abroad and from within the country—apart from members of the NLD—to advise you. I have heard that even the American president Obama has about 34 advisors to help him. Also, it would be really good to have a post box outside your house where people can deposit letters advising you and giving their opinions on political, economic, and social affairs. That way, you will be able to hear the voices of the people. Only a small minority of the people can use RFA or VOA to voice their opinions.
A: Although I have not officially appointed any advisers, I have a lot of them. And I try my very best to focus on what may be the best advice I get from the large amount of advice I receive and to try to implement it. Although I do not have a post box outside my home, letters of advice can be sent to the National League for Democracy headquarters office during office hours.
Program broadcast on Aug. 19, 2011.