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Interview with DASSK

>From: Dr U Ne Oo <uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject: 14/11/96: ABC-TV, AN INTERVIEW WITH DASSK.
>/* Written 18 Nov 6:00am 1996 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
>/* ----------------" ABC-tv: Interview with DASSK "------------------ */
>Excerpts from Australian Broadcasting Corporation-TV Late Line programme,
>"BURMA - PARIAH OR PLAYER". Braodcasted at 10:35pm Thursday 14 November 1996.
>NB: incomplete & un-official transcript. -- U Ne Oo
>Presenter: Maxine McCune
>Program: Lateline, ABC-TV.
>Evans Williams' introductory report:  ....
>Maxine McCune: That report is from Evans Williams. Aung San Suu Kyi is the
>Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Burma. In 1989, she was
>arrested by the military and remained under house arrest for six years; in
>1990 her party won overwhelming majority in general elections but the Slorc
>refuse to acknowledge the result. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace
>Prize and was released last year. As Evans Williams indicated, the military
>keep Suu Kyi under very tight control but we were able to interview her by
>phone and her answers were recorded by camera in Rangoon.\
>Maxine: Aung San Suu Kyi, in recent weeks, of course, Slorc has once again
>attempted to make the life very very difficult for you and your supporters.
>What is behind the latest crackdown do you think ?
>ASSK: I think probably it is an attempt to avoid the political settlement
>through dialogue; and if that is so, that'll be a great mistake. Because
>political settlement through dialogue will be beneficial to all parties
>concerned. Whereas this kind of violence and that the anarchy they are
>promoting in the long-run affect everybody in a very negative way.
>Maxine: And I gathered the Slorc has shown no interest so far in dialogue
>with you.
>ASSK: Well, no; perhaps they have not so far; but things can always change.
>Maxine: Your motorcade, of course, was attacked at the weekend as well.
>Does this suggest to you as, perhaps, a new phase of intimidation ?
>ASSK: Well, intimidation has been going on for long time; but, yes, you
>could call it a new phase in seeing that it is a little-bit more violent
>than what has gone before.
>Maxine: Are you worried about it escalating ?
>ASSK: I don't know that as worried it as an exactly the word; but of
>course, there is always possibility that such tactics will escalate into a
>greater violence.
>Maxine: We've been in touch with the U.S. Senator John McCane, who was, of
>course in Rangoon in the past couple of days and he saw what happened and
>in fact he described it to us as a potentially endangering you; but as
>regards any possible ban on US investment, the Senator McCane has really
>said the US will be very much guided by you on this. I mean what would it
>take, I suppose, would happened to you before when you would feel the
>need  to give that the call for the sort of tougher action ?
>ASSK: I am already given the people the benefit of the doubt; although it
>is quite clear that the authorities were involved in that attack on
>Saturday. If they are really prepared to investigate the matter, in a fair
>way, I am prepare to go along with it. And its not out for vengeance, you
>know. The NLD is not out for vengeance; we do not believe in that. And
>we will see how things developed before we decide how far we ought to press
>for a greater sanction against the government of Burma.
>Maxine: In just over a week as well, the President Clinton will be in the
>region; would tougher representation from him made any difference to Slorc,
>do you believe.
>ASSK: It depends on what sort of representation it is; and I always
>held  a believe that nobody is oblivious to international pressure  and
> I don't think the SLORC is either, whatever they may say.
>Maxine: And yet, the recent tactics is somewhat at odd, aren't they ? what
>the Slorc want in terms of  in the region. At a time Slorc is very keen to
>be accepted as the full member of ASEAN. Why would it(Slorc) behave the way
>that it has in recent times.
>ASSK: Well, the Slorc is not exactly that famous for its perfect timing,
>you know.
>Maxine: What is your message, indeed, to the other ASEAN member countries,
>as regards the acceptance of Burma as a full member ?
>ASSK: Burma, under the present system is not going to be accredited to the
>region at all.
>Maxine: So you prefer ASEAN to leave this issue to cool it for a while ?
>ASSK: I think that if ASEAN want a member country that it accredited to the
>organization and to the region, then it should do much more  to make sure
>that   Slorc goes along a civilized ways to improve things in Burma. You
>cannot improve things through violence. You cannot change things to the
>better by promoting anarchy.  And if ASEAN wants a respectable member
>state, and then the ASEAN should made that quite clear to the the Slorc.
>Maxine: Has it ?
>ASSK: I don't know. You must ask ASEAN.
>Maxine: The countries lined up in a different ways, don't they ? I mean,
>Thailand and the Philippines seems to be most resistant in letting Burma in.
>Why is that, I suppose, say, Indonesia and Malaysia, who are apparently
>somewhat more relaxed about the membership.
>ASSK: Perhaps it is a reflection of situation in their own countries.
>Maxine: What do you mean by that ?
>ASSK: Well, I think in Thailand and in the Philippines they have, I think,
>a  much stronger democratic lobby.
>Maxine: Do you see any sign that the constructive engagement which is of
>course current ASEAN policy- do you see any sign that the pressure being
>brought onto the Slorc in return for investment and trade.
>ASSK: I always thought that the constructive engagement is an opposite to
>pressure; I mean, constructive engagement as it has been interpreted over
>the last few years. In my opinion, of course, constructive engagement means
>constructively engaged with everybody concerned, including us. But at the
>moment the ASEAN countries are not really constructively engaged in
>opposition in Burma.
>Maxine: There is, obviously though, that tremendous enthusiasm by other
>regional economies to trade with Burma; I mean, in the end this may be
>really impossible to resist this momentum ?
>ASSK: I think you will find that the enthusiasm has been considerably
>dampened in last six months of so; because it is becoming increasingly
>obvious that the economy in Burma is not really developing the way
>people hope that it would.
>Maxine: As you know, if we look around region in recent history, in the
>Philippines, it took something like a very frustrated middle class that was
>fed up with the corruption and in the end, of course, the Marcos regime
>collapse. Can you see something similar happening in Burma. Does those sort
>of pre-condition exist ?
>ASSK: Well, Burma is not the Philippines. But I think one can see that
>there is quite a lot of frustration building around the country. Whenever
>frustration builds-up at that rate there is never good for the future.
>Maxine: Can they be a peaceful transition to democracy, do you think ?
>ASSK: I think we can bring about a peaceful transition  if all
>of us are interested enough in bringing about one.
>Maxine: What about the position of the Australian Government ? I'm
>interested in your view on that. Of course our policy said the the economic
>sanction would not be effective against Slorc and that in turn, our policy
>is neither encouraging nor discouraging investment in Burma. Does
>neutrality of this position worried you somewhat ?
>ASSK: Well, I think sitting on the fence must be extremely uncomfortable
>position and I myself has never been in the favour of such a very
>precarious stand; or I should perhaps say sits as its were.
>Maxine: What would you suggest would be a more appropriate policy then, for
>Australia ?
>ASSK: I think Australian Government should have far more clear-cut policy
>as to what and when they should do, whatever it is that need to be done
>with regards to Burma. I do not think that any government can see that
>sanction don't work - just like that. Sanctions do work under certain
>circumstances and even I would say that in most circumstances sanction do
>work to certain extent.
>Maxine: And just finally then, what does sustains you in your struggle. I
>am sure you must fantise, from time to time, about a much more tranquil and
>comfortable life back with your family.
>ASSK: Yes. I think the commitment of so many people who have  so much less
>than I have and so much more to loose, I think it is the commitment of our
>colleagues and supporters that sustains me.
>Maxine: Aung San Suu Kyi, thank you very much indeed for that. Thank you.
>ASSK: Not at all. Thank you. Good bye.
>Maxine: Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon and that interview was recorded by
>telephone on Tuesday . Well. Now to our other guests. Alexander Downers has
>been Australia's foreign minister since March. He served as a diplomat before
>entering parliament in 1984; and he was federal opposition leader in 1995
>before taking on a job of as a Shadow foreign spokesperson which leads upto
>the last election. Mr Downed is now in Adelaide.
>        Nancy Polosi has represented the Sanfrancisco and the U.S. House
>of representatives since 1987 and served in the House appropriation and
>ethnic committee and select committee on intelligence. Congresswomen Polosi
>has been prominent advocate of economic sanction against Burma and she
>joins us now from Washington.
>        Kavi Chongkittavorn is the executive editor of one of the
>Thailand's most prominent English language newspaper, The Nation. He
>written extensively on Burma and regional affairs. And Mr Kavii  served as
>ASEAN secretariat as for two years and joins us from Bangkok. Thanks for
>all of you for joining us this session:
>conversation contd. with Kavi and Nancy Polosi ..............
>Maxine: I'll come back to that point later. Minister, just to the ASEAN
>question first. Does Burma deserves full membership of ASEAN do you think ?
>Downed: Well, I obviously take to the position that the ASEAN to make that
>judgement not up to us. Having listen to the conversation, my view is that
>there is a great deal more concerns in ASEAN about Burma than sometime
>publicly expressed; and we concentrated a lot of our diplomacy on the issue
>of Burma on ASEAN, knowing that ASEAN really is, at least, the key to
>outside pressure, on the liberalization in Burma and particularly
>liberalizing of Slorc. As I have found that that I have spoken with ASEAN
>foreign ministers, there is a lot of concerns. They have the policy
>of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and in term
>of their public statement, they adhered to that rigorously. But privately I
>do think that they are very concerned and, I think, you see some
>delays on Burma's accession to ASEAN; a desire by ASEAN which is quite
>deeply held desire, not an equal degree across ASEAN, as has pointed out,
>but certainly a desire across ASEAN for the process of liberalization to
>Maxine: When you say a delay minister, what do you think ? Is it a quite a
>few years away ?
>Downers: I wouldn't put a time on it but I don't think its going to happen
>until in a middle of next year; I think a number of technical obstacles
>will stands on the ways of that. But it is true that in different ASEAN
>Countries, there is different strength of feeling on this. I don't think it
>is any secret that in the Philippines and Thailand the greater degree of
>concerns have been expressed. But it is also true that in other part of
>ASEAN, there's a lot of concerns about Burma and; So I think in the first
>place, ASEAN would like to do what it can privately to place pressure on
>the Slorc and secondly I am very much the view that the, frankly, with a
>great respect to the American Congresswomen, it is not the United States or
>Australia or European Union which is going to have influence on the Slorc,
>But it is ASEAN and of course to some extent it is China.
>Maxine: But it is Aung San Suu Kyi, as you heard, who is calling on the
>countries to take position on this and as regard to Australia. She said
>we are sitting on the fence.
>Downers: Well, we take one of the strongest position of any country on Burma
>as a matter of fact; and we take on the same position for quite sometime
>now and previous government and present government. We have, if you like,
>two approaches though; first of all, we have the carrot and stick approach
>that is we say we won't provide any aid to Burma except through NGOs. No
>official aid whatsoever, that's all been cut off. Secondly, we won't promote
>trade or investment with Burma; But on the otherside of equation we have
>worked very hard, I can't speak for my predecessor, he probably did too.
>But, I have certainly work very hard to try to get a - how can I put it  -
>to a greater degree of enthusiasm through the region, for placing pressure
>on the Slorc.
>Maxine: Minister, where is the evidence of that pressure is working ?
>Downers: Well, I don't want to be too outspoken about this; But I'll just
>make the point that I do think there is a lot of concern about this issue,
>as I have already said, among ASEAN countries and; I think the fact that
>there are techincal obstacles the immediate future will delay Burma's
>membership of ASEAN that something need to be focus on. But let me also say
>that's all very well to chastise the international community as the media
>often do, for not doing enough about Burma because the evidence is the
>Slorc still remain in place and still repressive. But the fact is the very
>nature of Slorc regime, which is dogmatic, uncompromising and repressive
>has made it particularly insensitive to international pressure. I deeply
>regret that and I'll be first to admit the international pressure so far
>have not deliver the liberalization of Burma or even the opening of
>dialogue between the Slorc and National league for Democracy and Aung San
>Suu Kyi; I can see that.
>Maxine: But, that has been the case then, I'm just surprised that we can
>afford to be neutral something about the as regards to the membership of ...
>Downers: I'm sorry. You say when neutral which surprises me that you would
>use the term. The fact is that we are nothing remotely neutral. Not neutral
>at all.
>Conversation continues...
>/* Endreport */