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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
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.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid