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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid