Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10-1-2012 Burmese exile predicts decades before nation is free of military’s clutches

» 01/10/2012 13:21
The opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed her nomination for a seat in parliament in the April 1 elections. The NLD re-enters political arena. Tint Swe: the opposition, must look to the future and young people. Among the priorities, changes to the Constitution promulgated by the regime.

Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed her intention to run for a seat in Parliament, in elections scheduled for April 1. For some time her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has decided to proceed with registration - the lack which resulted in its exclusion from the previous elections of November 2010 - and thus fully re-enters the political arena in Myanmar. An election to likely ensure a seat for the Nobel Peace Laureate, who has spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest, and a possible position within the government in Naypyidaw. However, the "Lady" has also dampened over enthusiasm, expressing concern about the real intentions of change "in the army." And even if the NLD won all 48 seats in contention, they would have a minimal power within the national policy framework.

For further policy developments in Burma, the prospects of the democratic path undertaken and the role of Myanmar in the international arena, AsiaNews interviewed Tint Swe, a member of the Council of Ministers of the National Coalition Government Union of Burma (NCGUB), composed of refugees from Myanmar after the 1990 elections won by the National League for Democracy, and never acknowledged by the junta. He fled to India in 1990, and since December 21, 1991 Tint Swe has lived in New Delhi and practised as a doctor, he also holds the position of information officer on South Asia and East Timor in the Council.

Here follows the AsiaNews interview with Tint Swe:

How would you explain the Burmese government’s green light to the official registration of the NLD?

In fact, the decision did not surprise anyone. It's just one of the new developments that are taking place in Myanmar in the last period. Many believe is part of a broader agreement between President U Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi. Monday (yesterday, ed) onwards the NLD will hand out the party membership forms and invite the exiles to apply on-line. In a live radio discussion by the Voice of America Burmese service one of the discussants from inside Burma warned that NLD should be aware of opportunists among the new members. His advice is relevant because in all organizations whether political or else there are members with different aims. It is interesting that NLD will have members from outside Burma. It is because since after the landslide victory in 1990 election, score of organizers and elected Parliamentarians had fled the country and they remain as a force to tell the truth about Burma to the world. Moreover NLD will recruit exile members not for vote bank but to show that it has supporters all over the world. More importantly it indicates that the works are still crucial to be done because many think it is already honeymoon and all are over in Burma. No it is not like that!

What are the margins of victory for the NLD?

The NLD will contest all available constituencies in the by-election to be held in April . Aung San Suu Kyi’s theory is something like All-or-Non principle of the strength. It is also expected that NLD candidates will secure the vote and Aung San Suu Kyi will be seen in the parliament then. So for NLD it can be said as first step and preparation for upcoming general elections.

Mr. Swe, who will have the political priorities of the Burmese opposition movement?

In addition to numbers and seats won, the crux of the problem is connected to the Constitution (approved in 2008, amid state of emergency caused by Cyclone Nargis, ed) that is not accepted by the NLD and ethnic political parties of the 1990 election. At the moment it is seen as a milestone that can not be subject to change. But the Constitution is written by the people and can be changed by the people as said by Aung San the father of Burma as well as of Aung San Suu Kyi. And one of the three priorities in 2012 for the party is to amend the Constitution. Now the international community is quick to respond to the new developments in Burma. The western bloc treats the government and Aung San Suu Kyi more or less in equal terms.

Will they be free elections?

The exiled Burmese who have been authorized to return home by the president are more pessimistic than foreign observers. The number of returnees is marginal and no sign of home coming for refugees either. Out of the Members of Parliament of 1990 election who are taking refuge in foreign countries total of 35, only one person went back. However they are not entitled to contest in the election held in accordance with the existing election law and by the election commission. But the NLD, which is new as is the new reality of the country, has a long-term vision and reflects a new generation. [...] Young people are given an opportunity. The generation of 1990 is tasked to monitor and guide the new members.

How do you judge the situation of ethnic minorities, including Christian Karen and Chin?

Aung San Suu Kyi raised funds for victims of fierce fighting in Kachin area. Her election campaign will include ethnic States. For Chin, the single armed group, the Chin National Front (CNF) has already been in Hakha to sign an agreement with the Chin State government. It is conflicting to note that the armed group from Chin State is in the process of normalization with quasi-civilian government while tens of thousands of Chin refugees in India, Malaysia and Thailand do not see any hope of returning home. It is not simple politics but job opportunities, education, health care, infrastructure and etc. which are still rudimentary in the Chin Hills. The example of the Christian dominated Chin situation shows that Burma has long way to go. The second batch of so-called amnesty announced on 3rd January can also illustrate the real situation of Burma. Khun Htun Oo and Shan leaders who were given over 90 years of jail terms are now reduced to maximum 30 years in prison. . In this way, Burma does not have to wait 90 years, but "only" 30 to escape the clutches of the military. (NC)