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interview of U Kyi Maung (NLD Vice

Dear friends,

I have done an interview with the Vice Chairman of NLD, U Kyi Maung, on 2
November 1997. Below is the trascription of the interview. Please bear with
us for some grammar mistakes.

I'm sorry that for I have forgotten to attach the interview during the first
time I sent. So I hope you get it this time.

Best wishes,

Teresa Kok

Q: Why did SLORC want to have dialogue with NLD? Is the pressure come from
Japan or ASEAN?
A: Japan won't do this, it is ASEAN, because they are the one who have put
in money to invest here, after 2 years, they realised that nothing have been
materialised from their investment.

Japanese, bending over backwards to peace. Because they are businessmen,
they are very much worried that the Chinese get the iniative if they delay
in their investment because China has been closed to us. There is no rule of
law here. I think the people who are concerned about  Burma are the people
who have thrown in money in this country.

You see so many hotels without guests, so many rooms empty because of all
the groups working against the Visit Myanmar Year. Many investors in ASEAN
invest in servicing sectors, not in manufacturing, services sectors have a
lot to do with tourists, they are making loss. When Cedona Hotel first
invested here, originally they planned to employ 900 people with 2 shifts,
but you go there you will find there are many rooms empty. The same all over
in town. 

I think last time when they (SLORC) met people like Goh Chok Tong from
Singapore,  who even talked about money have been dwindling away... ha ha...

Q:The SLORC has been trying protrait Suu Kyi as stubborn and refused to have
A: We are prepared to have dialogue. There is no problem for us in
opposition to have dialogue.  By the nature of our organisation, we can't
take up arms. If we put together, there must be not less than 50,000 troops
all over the country, the Shan, Kachin,.. they are fully armed. We don't
need to arm ourselves. We have to struggle along the line of democracy, we
are a movement of democracy. Even then we tried to make sure we don't get
out to the street for demonstration, because we are quite sure that they
will come out with fire arms and shoot us. If we do any demonstration we
will be suppressed like that. They have done it in 1988. So, we are a very
very democratic movement, we don't shout slogan! People outside Burma do
that because they are sure that they won't be shot and harmed
We all agree with dialogue, there is legitimacy on our side, we won the
elections in 1990, but that victory was never given recognition. I was in
jail for two and a half years, Tin Oo was jailed more than 5 years, Daw Suu
was under house arrest for 6 years .... The issue of the elections in 1990
has not been solved, it is still pending, We consider ourselves have the
right to govern, so we don't take up arms, we are for dialogue, only through
dialogue we can expect some understanding between them and us to develop,
they are Burmese, as much as we are. They said they envisaged democracy but
we will aske them what kind of democracy is this....... they are the
stubborn people.
Q: What are the priorities of the agenda of dialogue?
A: There is no agenda, it will be unconditioned. We have to build up mutual
understanding as we go along, like serious inflation....., we are not going
to put them on trial, no, no, we will find out how best we can build up
confidence. We will ask for the release of our political prisoners, civil
rights, publication rights and we, be given the political rights.

Q: How do you communicate with the outside world?
A: In this country, only the SLORC owns the publication rights. There are no
(NLD's) bulettins, we can't use our machine to print, we don't own fax
machine, we don't own a mobile phone, our telephones are continuous cut for
30 months, I can't make call to outside too. 

Q:When do you think the SLORC will continue the dialogue? 
A: If the SLORC is confident that they can continue the political and social
situation of the country, then they may carry on along all by them without
having dialogue with the NLD. But the moment that they realised they can't
carry on all by them.

NLD sees the problems of dialogue is a kind of up and down, the dialogue
might be called again.

Q: Do you think that international pressure will force them to have dialogue
compare with internal pressure?
A: Internal problems did play a part. Prostitution, you know that many young
girls crossed the border to neighbouring country to sell their bodies,
ethnic conflicts, like Shan, Karennie etc, drugs and the attitude the
Americans towards this. The problem of without exports, all the exports are
very much below par.

Because this is not the regular type of government that pay attention to the
people. Economic life of the people is generally very poor.

Q: Have ASEAN  officials have dialogue with the NLD?
A: We met them in some functions and we have some friendly chats. I think
and I hope time will come for us to talk to ASEAN. I think ASEAN should also
know the view of the opposition on various issues, and we are not expecting
ASEAN to support us with money or fire arms.

Q: What is your advices for ASEAN investors who want to invest in Burma?
A: They knew, we don't need to advise them.(laugh!)
You cannot do business in Burma unless you passed money under the counter.
Malaysia (govt) understands if you want to attract investors, you must
provide the rule of law which is really strong enough that the investors'
money won't be dwindled away. When an investor come to read investors law
here, they will find that it is very funny to do business here.

The exchange rate of Kyat. Now 1 FEC = 280 kyats in the open market, but
officially 1 FEC = 6 Kyats. You can't take out your money, you can't
transfer your money out of the country more than USD50,000 a month. Many
people find it very difficult to do business here. The government is running
short of money in its own bank.
For example, SONY has quite a number of employees in Rangoon and branches,
this law make them difficult to do business.

So, you don't need to advise them, they will compare.

Q: How do you view the political future of the country?
A: Nobody knows that Soviet Union will collapse in 1990. We have to try our
best, we don't do any funny things anyway.

Q: Have you tried to go out of Rangoon in the past?
A: We have tried to go to Mandalay in 1995, but they (SLORC) just tried to
harass us.

We are not anti investment, on our own, we won't be able to catch up our
neighbours, for decades, we have to rely on our own, 26 years under U Ne
Win, 7 years under 
SLORC......They have printed so much money, you cannot imagine you can live
under such a system. We are so broke unless (foreign) capital pour in. The
majority of the people can't meet their end needs, therefore we need
investment.The first thing is we get democracy first, to catch up with the
rest of the world. 

Our education system is terrible. Under Ne Win regime, universities have
been closed for 7 years, under this regime, universities have been closed
until now, about one year. You don't know when will the universities be opened.

Without education, you cannot get into 21st century. So, to modernise, we
need investment, we cannot anti-investment. There is no rule of law in this
country, look at how they treat us, we are the people who won the election
in this country, if they can do such a thing, they can do everything,
including your investment too. There is no legitimacy here. If you want to
do investment, wait until the right time, wait until you see the light, you
see people are freely under democratic system, we have an accountable
government, we have regular elections, we have open forum, we have free
press, you can say anything.

Because we don't have opportunity to show by practice, because we are denied
of responsibility assigned to us. You might think that because we said all
sorts of things against SLORC, we anti SLORC, anti investment.....(but we
are not). If you invest here, you are throwing money into the OCEAN, because
there are no guarantee.

Q: Do you think constructive engagement of ASEAN will help to improve the
situation in Burma?
A: I don't believe in it. They are paying lip service, forget it. I see
positive signs in a few areas. As a member of the ASEAN, they (SLORC) have
to send representatives to some places in ASEAN which they don't have last
year. Now you will see 15-20 people (SLORC representatives) reading your
daily newspapers, your laws. These are people from the jungle, they can't
read English and they don't speak English, but for the first time, they are
exposed to this. They will learn the civilised way to address the world.I
think it is good education for them, they might even speak better English
for another 6 months. This first expposure that they gained will make them
try to compare the lives in Burma against lives in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur etc
The second thing is ASEAN has the responsibility to amend their ways.
Because they (ASEAN) have set up some regulations, like what percent of the
value of the products that you have to pay duties. Certain products, luxury
cars for instance, have been charged 300%. The losses the investors have
encountered by investing in Burma will make them tell their government
leaders that try to persuade the Burmese leaders to make improvement in
Rangoon, they have thrown in a lot of money in this country.

We (NLD) are very pro-investment, we knew we can't make savings for
sometime, because there are no middle class to throw (spend) money, we have
been thrown out of entrepreneurship, no private business in this country for
35 years. 

If a person wants to do business here, you must take the Union of Myanmar
Economy Holding, the SLORC own monopoly into partnership.So, very difficult.

So, I'm not worried about constructive engagement or whatever dialogue....

You might have heard that political parties in Burma and ethnics who are
taking arms on street, it is not true, they have ceased fire and there is no
political insurgence, and it is not true that Suu Kyi is stubborn or
whatever, it is a picture they tried to project us in Burma.