News / Asia

Q&A: Burma's New Political Landscape

Supporters of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi celebrate outside her home after her release from house arrest in Rangoon, 13 Nov 2010.
Supporters of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi celebrate outside her home after her release from house arrest in Rangoon, 13 Nov 2010.

The release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest Sunday spurred supporters inside the country to say that hope had returned. But some political observers are warning that one person alone cannot change Burma.

One of those skeptics is Khin Zaw Win, a pro-democracy activist who was jailed in Burma from 1994 to 2005 for peacefully criticizing the government. He now runs the civil society organization the Tampadipa Institute and advocates on behalf of the National Democratic Force, an opposition group that formed after breaking away from Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, or NLD.

He tells VOA that the NLD's decision to not participate in the elections is an example of the opportunities it has squandered to keep the military government in check. He says Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition movement is out of touch and must adjust its strategy to stimulate real change.

You have expressed some frustration with the main opposition movement for not doing enough to challenge the government in a constructive way. Now that Aung San Suu Kyi is out, does this help or hinder the direction you think the country needs to take?

"Well, I would say in all fairness, it could help. I wouldn’t say that it’d automatically help. But she and the former NLD will have to make their effort too. Of course, her voice is internationally heard. And she’s been saying the right things [Sunday] in her speech. So we want to see some of that really translated into really positive action that will have a beneficial result and impact on what’s happening now."

And what kind of action are you looking for?

"Well, she’s been around for a long time. She knows how to deal with this regime. Most importantly, to learn from her past mistakes. Those mistakes have affected not only her but, also. the entire country. I think it’s high time that she took stock of what has happened and make the necessary course corrections."

And what mistakes are you thinking of?

"The mistakes, well, from 1980 onwards, because of her father’s name and her stature, and her name itself. I think the military itself gave her many, many opportunities, reaching out to her, and she didn’t take them properly. Again, she’s talking about demanding dialogue and human rights. The regime unfortunately is not going to listen to that. I was in prison for 11 years. I’ve been watching it from afar. She got opportunities that no one else could ever dream of getting. They were just summarily thrown away. I think people have to realize that."

So you’d like to see her working more closely with the government?

"No, no, no. Not with the government. But taking a more sober and, I would say, long-term and constructive line. Demanding one-to-one dialogue with a military dictator, I mean, let’s be realistic. And those guys don’t like her. And that’s putting it very gently. So you’ve got to have a good assessment of what you are and what you are capable of. Remember, it’s not only affecting herself and her party. It’s affecting the whole country."

I think it’s important to look at the landscape and how it has changed since Aung San Suu Kyi was last free. There are more opposition parties. There are more development groups in the country. The military is doing business with China and other Asian partners.  How has this changed the social and political discourse?

"If people think that the National League for Democracy is the only vehicle for democratic change and that we’re talking about a single knight in shining armor, that’s not the case unfortunately. There are other players on the scene now not affiliated with the National League for Democracy. The ethnic nationalities, for instance, have forged their own path away from the National League for Democracy. One big difference from the 1990 elections 20 years ago is the presence of a very strong civil society. We didn’t have that in 1990. It’s very much in existence now. And, well to speak frankly, the National League for Democracy is kind of out of sync and quite some distance away from that civil society. It’s not just going to be one organization being the vanguard of democracy. That has changed, and she has to realize that."

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Trade Talks Could Heat Up in 2015

With boosting trade a top priority for the Obama administration, 2015 may be the year that an agreement is finally reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the trade deal, which is intended to boost trade between 12 Pacific countries, faces opposition as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
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

All About America

AppleAndroid