Q: There is a lot of hope and speculation with respect to the present political situation in our country. If the government of President U Thein Sein offers you a position in the government, would you accept? And if you do accept, do you think you would be able to better work in the interests of the country and for national reconciliation?
A: When one does not really know if something will happen or not, or under what circumstances it might happen, it would be inappropriate to say whether there are any reasons to accept or not accept. Since we are working to build strong and stable democratic institutions, all of our decisions will be made with a view to ensuring those decisions will support our efforts in building those institutions.
Q: I belong to the Rivers and Streams Network. President U Thein Sein has announced he is suspending work on the Myitsone Dam project. Does the government’s announcement refer only to the Myitsone Dam or to all of the other seven proposed dam projects as well? We have always taken the position that, if possible, all of the projects that could destroy the Irrawaddy River should be stopped. We would also like to know whether the Chinese company that has been working on this project has returned to its own country.
A: The government and I have discussed this matter and have agreed to work together to maintain and protect the Irrawaddy River. We did not refer specifically only to the Myitsone Dam project. I think that they will consider what would be the appropriate thing to do after taking into account the advice and views of experts with regard to the Myitsone Dam. As for the companies that have been working on the project, I would assume that their actions will depend on the situation at hand.
A: It is the decision of each individual as to whether or not they should return to Burma. As far as I understand, the president’s announcement did not refer just to people who are politically involved. It also refers to Burmese people who are abroad for other reasons. If one wants to return to Burma with a desire to be politically involved, one should carefully assess whether the situation is conducive before making that decision. Things will become complicated only if one wants them to be complicated. I do not think there will be complications for people who simply return to Burma without an agenda.
Q: On the fourth anniversary of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, about 200 people walked along the streets of Rangoon and said prayers. Some have said that this is not the time for such an act, as this could jeopardize the talks taking place between you and the government. What is your opinion with regard to this issue?
A: I do not think that acts that are carried out to encourage the achievement of democracy in a peaceful and orderly manner will be a hindrance on the road to democracy.
Q: After the emergence of the so-called civilian government, members of government commissions, including members of the president’s advisory committee, and members of the parliament, including USDP member Zaygaba U Khin Shwe and House of Nationalities chairman U Khin Aung Myint, have been openly and courageously giving interviews to foreign broadcasting stations like the BBC, VOA, and RFA. These are media organizations that government newspapers have criticized in the past for creating dissent with “skies full of lies.” What would you say to the way these government officials are using foreign media?
A: I would welcome any change that is made for the better. Not attacking the foreign media is a good thing, and I welcome the fact that things that were done in the past have been stopped because they were found to be inappropriate. Giving interviews to the foreign media is something that should be welcomed. To be fair, democracy supporters are also giving interviews to the press, so it must be said that we are also “using” them.
Broadcast on Oct 7, 2011.