News / Asia

Burma Opposition Leader Says Reforms Depend on Military

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves after a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, April 17,2013.Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves after a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, April 17,2013.
x
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves after a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, April 17,2013.
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves after a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, April 17,2013.
Daniel Schearf
Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told an audience in Japan that her country's democratic reforms are not yet irreversible and still depend on the powerful military, which ruled Burma for decades. Political analysts say the speech is another sign the Nobel laureate is trying to balance relations with the military and her party's political ambitions.
 
During a speech Wednesday at Japan's Tokyo University, Suu Kyi acknowledged Burma has started on the path to democracy but suggested the gains remain fragile.
 
"There are many people who ask me whether the process of democratization in Burma is irreversible. Now I always say very simply, it will be irreversible once the military has accepted it," she said.

Tempering optimism

Burma’s leaders have won praise from foreign politicians and heads of state who have embraced the country’s political reforms as signs of democratic opening.  
 
But Suu Kyi's words of caution this week underscore the complicated relationship she and her National League for Democracy still have with a military that remains the most powerful force in the country.
 
Political analysts say the NLD's desire to change the 2008 military-drafted constitution to make it more fair may be leading to excessive compromise. The constitution sets aside a quarter of all lawmaker positions for the army, and it does not allow Suu Kyi to run for president.
 
Aung Thu Nyein, director of the Burma think tank Vahu Development Institute, said the opposition is in a tough position because it needs military support. "It is a quite delicate for her, you know, to deal with the military because the 25 percent of the un-elected parliamentarians are still in the parliament and they are quite influential for to make constitutional reform.  At the same time, the important ministries such as home affairs ministry and border affairs ministry are still controlled by the military."
 
Critics speak out


Suu Kyi and the NLD have been criticized by political and human rights activists for not sufficiently challenging the ruling party of President Thein Sein since gaining seats in parliament.  
 
Pavin Chachavalpongpun is an associate professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University.
 
"It was quite ironic that when she was under house arrest, to me, I think she was more vocal then. Now she has been released and she become a free woman, we hear less and less and less of, you know, issues that we expect her to raise this, even though raising these issues would put her in conflict with the military," said Chachavalpongpun.
 
Suu Kyi was criticized for failing to speak out against persecution of ethnic and religious minorities during outbreaks of sectarian violence that have displaced more than 100,000. Despite the mostly one-sided attacks, Suu Kyi has refused to defend Muslim communities or condemn Buddhist monks who encouraged the attacks.
 
Rule of law


At the end of a week-long visit to Japan, she told students at Tokyo University the challenge for Burma remains establishing the rule of law.
 
"So we have had no rule of law in Burma over the last 50 years, what we have had is rule of an authoritarian government and rule of law has been weakened to the point that it became non-existent. We are trying to re-establish it," said Suu Kyi.                
 
Political analysts say she also is worried that speaking up for Muslim minorities might alienate her constituents in Burma's Buddhist majority.
 
Suu Kyi is widely expected to run for president in 2015 elections. The NLD won Burma's last election in 1990, but the military ignored the results and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of two decades.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs