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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid