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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid