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Looking into the RFA: A Must-Read A
- Subject: Looking into the RFA: A Must-Read A
- From: aungsoe@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 26 May 1998 20:54:00
Here is my feeling and sense about RFA present situation and my letter
to the president of RFA. If you agree or disagree, or if you want
to share what you think, please contact Mr. Richard Richter by fax or
His fax is (202)530-7795 (U.S.A) and
his e-mail is (RICHTERR@xxxxxxx).
It will be nicer if you share all by e-mail what you feel about RFA
present situation. I deeply feel that it is very important matter and
we shouldn't take it lightly.
I hope that people who have something to share will not hesitate to
share Mr. Richter and all. Thank so much for your time.
Attention: Mr. Richard Richter
Radio Free Asia
Re: Suggestions about Radio Free Asia (Burmese Service Program)
Date: May 19, 1998.
Dear Mr. Richter,
I am a Burmese dissident residing in Thailand. Despite living in
exile, I am still working as much as I can for democratic changes in
Burma. Since the ruling junta prohibits freedom of expression and
imposes very strict news censorship, democratic radio stations such as
Radio Free Asia (Burmese Service) (RFA), British Broadcasting
Cooperation (BBC), Voice of America, and Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB)
play a crucial role in educating the people of Burma and providing
information about events around the world. My friends, my relatives,
and people who recently left, told me that the people of Burma love to
listen to the programs from the democratic radio stations. I also
listen to the democratic radio stations
all the time. Without listening RFA, BBC, and VOA, my days will not be
I would like to thank R.F.A very much for airing reliable news,
democratic poems and features, and educational programs. Due to the
government censorship, such programs would not otherwise reach which
are out of reach for the Burmese people in accordance with the news
obscuring policy by the Burmese government. The people are not informed
even what is happening around them in reality and they can learn the
reality only when they hear from RFA and other democratic stations. I
learn that R.F.A becomes the most popular democratic radio station in
Burma and people love to listen its programs everyday. RFA's democratic
voice raises awareness of the people, opens their eyes, and profoundly
penetrates into their hearts. That makes ruling SPDC worry and it will
try its best to stop effective RFA's popularity among the people just
because these free radio stations possess active role in educating
people know what is really going
on in Burma and letting them vividly distinguish the differences between
free and open societies and the society under the authoritarian regime.
It always harasses their operations and tries to destroy their
popularity by all means. The dismissal of Ms. Myint Myint Zaw from VOA
and Derek Brooke Wavell from BBC are very clear examples of the from
behind the scene involvements of SPDC's Military Intelligence to stop
BBC and VOA active Burmese programs and their popularity at that time.
I was very afraid of happening similar attempts over RFA too.
I heard the following from an RFA program by Daw Nyein Shwe,.
"President. U Ne Win, the former leader of Burmese Socialist Programme
Party (BSPP) honestly strived the best to develop the country but the
country was devastated because all others were corrupt and selfish.
Again, the secretary II, Khin Nyunt is very sincere, diligent, and
hardworking for the country but the country have been deteriorated by
the lazy and corrupt people". I was stunned by her tone and such
Since then, my suspicion has grown more and more and I have been
listening all programs carefully and observing the background facts of
the Burmese staff from RFA.
On first November 1997, she again aired that "The people who dislike
SLORC have been disseminating rumors and allegations improperly and
trying to defame SLORC. These people are very immoral and cunning and
SLORC will not be able to explain such groundless rumors. However, if
SLORC responds those wrong accusations and prosecutes them in time, the
country will be more stable than ever".
"Though, in BSPP era, uncle U Ne Win tried hard with his sincere
generosity for the country, the system was not appropriate for the
country and that was why the development projects were not prosperous
unfortunately. At present, it is very obvious that SLORC is paying off
these debts back to the people by working all hours. We all must
recognize for its efforts". This is an excerpt from RFA's 8 November
1997 program by Daw Nyein Shwe again.
"SPDC's secretary Khin Nyunt is very smart and diligent, and he
goes to school not only to just give them directions but also to
carefully inspect again whether or not the people follow as he directed,
and to follow up the progress. He really commits for the development of
the country". It is also an excerpt from Daw Nyein Shwe's 1998 January
5 special program. Some more programs supporting SPDC s misconducts
were also broadcasted by RFA.
As far as I found out, Dr. Saw Tun wrote such programs by using a
pen-name and Daw Nyein Shwe aired them. Dr. Saw Tun is a Burmese
professor in Northern Illinois University and he has been serving as the
guardian for Gen. Ne Win's grandchild who is studying at that
Furthermore, he has very close relationship with the high ranking
military officers from SPDC.
Dr. Saw Tun was the one who brought U Win Pe to the United States.
Now, U Win Pe, one of the famous movie directors in Burma, is working
withm RFA by the name of U Zaw Weight. What seems absolutely ridiculous
is that the person who is trying to educate the people of Burma about
freedom from fear and about democracy, is afraid of using his real name
because of the possible threat from SPDC. He usually boasts friends
that if he uses his real name, it will be more effective and will make
more threat to the administrations. I really agree with it and I don't
really quite understand why he doesn't do so if he really wants to
contribute for the country. Every Burmese working with RFA has
relatives or parents or families in Burma and why only him needs to be
protected rather than all, if the security is the main reason? I, an
ordinary person, can know who Zaw Weight is, then, SPDC easily knows who
Win Pe is and who Zaw Weight is. On the other hand, he served as an
director of the government ART School. No one will not be appointed
such position in Burma if he is not
loyal to BSPP or SLORC or SPDC. It is the true political culture of the
military regime. I really doubt his attitude towards democracy. When
people dedicate their fate at risk for the democracy struggle, he who
has already been granted permanent status in Unite States, is afraid of
using even his real name to educate the people. I sincerely think that
there is no appropriate reason to hide his real name. Why does he alone
need to be given such protection?
Moreover, Daw Nyein Shwe was expelled from VOA for misusing the
office computer for printing out the statements supporting Burmese
embassy staff who were loyal to BSPP. If she still doesn't change her
attitude of supporting the Burmese ruling authorities, it will be very
vulnerable for the RFA's main goal to educate the people.
"It is our responsibility to create programs that objectively
inform, that enrich, that are listenable, that are interesting. We also
should be aware that we are surrogates in two ways: first, as a prime
source of information not provided by in-country media:" (excerpt from
your "Letter from the President"). As you asserted in the letter, I
believe that it will serve as a blueprint for the organizational details
and standards of RFA. In contrast, RFA (Burmese Service) has
broadcasted some of SPDC media's programs. For example, RFA aired
SPDC's groundless accusation of Daw Aung San Su Kyi's secret affair with
her associate. In addition, RFA (Burmese Service) aired the program
about Nai Shwe Kyin's interview accusing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and KNU
leader, Bo Mya as American CIA spies. SPDC's radio had already
broadcasted those programs and RFA re-broadcasted those. Since those
were created and aired by SPDC, I believe that RFA should not broadcast
those again. Those groundless
programs were created by SPDC and people would not believe those.
However, if RFA re-air, people may start believing those created by
As a director of RFA Burmese Service, U Soe Thin should know the result
of re-airing the SPDC programs and avoid copying and re-airing.
Furthermore,>U Soe Thin should manage the Burmese Service and programs
in accordance with the guideline and the blueprint of RFA.
Mainly, U Soe Thin is very responsible for what is happening in the
Burmese service. Even though he is a nephew of Col. Kyaw Win, second
influential person of the MIS, it should not have any effect on his
position at RFA if he functions properly. It was very amazing that his
parents were able to come visit him in United States last summer amid
his role and involvement in RFA. Mostly, relatives of defected person
or dissident will not be issued travel documents in Burma. More
importantly, I heard that RFA (Burmese section)'s employment opportunity
is all in his hands and he hires only his friends and his acquaintances.
I have never seen RFA (Burmese section)'s employment advertisement in
any papers and on any internet lists. Since he is in a position to
decide or at least to suggest or recommend, then he has opportunities to
employ only those who will be loyal to him instead of their ability to
perform the right tasks.
Daw Khin Myo Htwe, Daw Tin Htar Swe, and at last U Nyi Nyi (who is also
using the name Ba Aung) are all his friends or acquaintance or one way
or another having relationship with him. U Soe Thin helped Daw Khin
Myo Htwe to get RFA job in return to U Khin Maung Win's help to U Soe
Thin. U Nyi Nyi on the other hand, worked with RFA as an stringer from
Japan. As far as I remember, he modifies the RFA's already used news by
adding some people's interviews. Most of his news are old and used by
RFA and there are hundred of thousands of people to give comments on
Very recently, U Khin Maung Nyein has been hired to work with RFA.
RFA had to pay the cost to bring him and his family to U.S. U Khin
Maung Nyein avoided taking part in the democracy activities even when
the whole Burmese Broadcasting Service crew joined pro-democracy
His attitude was really questionable. He is also using the name Moe
Kyaw when broadcasting. U Soe Thin did not hire well respected and
experienced U Aung Myint Tun, former staff from B.B.C because RFA could
not pay for bringing him to U.S.A, U Soe Thin said. Then, how could RFA
pay all cost for both U Nyi Nyi from Japan and U Khin Maung Nyein from
Singapore together with his family from Burma. It really did not make
any sense at all. Moreover, Moe Moe Tun from Democratic Voice of Burma
was turned down when she applied. She also had enough experience
working in the broadcasting service but unfortunately, she was not a
friend of U Soe Thin to get this job. Does RFA pay costs to bring
families of all staff in Burmese Service to U.S? It was really stunning
to pay the cost for U Khin Maung Nyein and his family to bring to U.S.
Moreover, being his friend does not necessarily mean they will educate
Burmese people about democracy and their attitudes are really
questionable. Only Daw Tin Htar Swe is active in democracy advocacy
works. So, please be advised him that he should really create more
interesting programs. Only being a close friend
of U Soe Thin doesn't necessarily mean he is a good broadcaster and he
should try the best to improve it so that he can be worthy to the work.
Moreover, RFA should have real open policy in hiring and seeking
appropriate candidates for Burmese Service and should closely monitor
the process. I have never seen the RFA advertisements for Burmese
Service jobs but I heard that RFA did at the beginning. I would like to
make a strong suggestion that RFA should fairly announce and select the
really able people to work with in order to carry out its operations
more effectively to educate the people rather than giving all power to
only one person. There are so many able people out there who also have
real commitment to the democratic education. However, I have to
acknowledge that Daw Tin Htar Swe is an appropriate and capable person
to work with RFA. I am very glad that she is working with RFA. RFA
absolutely should not encourage one person priority and should enhance
sharing actions and decision makings in the Burmese Service. For me, I
am not interested in working such jobs and I am not a capable person to
do such thing. So, don't feel confused that I write to you because I am
jealous. What I really want is improvement of RFA broadcastings and of
Burmese section management.
RFA Burmese Service was prosperous in Burma and it was very
popular among the people. However, its popularity has slightly declined
since RFA included wrong conclusion and progovernment propaganda.
Moreover, after RFA started airing both morning and evening programs,
many people became disappointed about its programs because it aired some
very good programs such as Kyay Mon U Thaung's "A Reporter, a General,
and a Army", former student leader Tun Aung Kyaw's freedom of news
reporter, De Lone's sessions, and some democracy educating sessions, in
the mornings when many people could not have time to listen. As an
experienced broadcaster, Does not U Soe Thin know when most people
listen? It will be very bad if he deliberately does so that most people
miss those. As far as I understand from the president of RFA message
to all, after the Chinese students' democracy movement, RFA was created
to promote democracy education for some Asian countries which are under
dictatorial rules. U Soe Thin should be reminded that RFA is not only
to raise the issue of freedom of speech but also to promote democracy.
Freedom of speech does not mean that he has the right to promote and
change the Burmese government's image by exploiting RFA. RFA's main
goal is to promote democracy. SPDC has already had its big mouth,
Burmese Broadcasting Service and should not be given permission to cheat
more by using other respectable news services. U Soe Thin should
clearly understand what is RFA goal and what he should not do
unethically or what should not be happened unintentionally or
I have applauded the RFA's program about ABSDF's execution of
their own Burmese dissident students and I was so happy that RFA stood
really fairly on both sides. Moreover, I really do respect the freedom
of expression and respect some of your programs for pointing out the
weakness of the oppositions. However, I think as a just radio station,
RFA shouldn't misinform the people of Burma with above wrong supporting
conclusions in favor of SPDC. As Daw Nyein Shwe aired, does RFA really
believe that Ne Win, Khin Nyunt and SLORC or SPDC have been doing the
best for the country? When the people from the entire Burma listen with
respect and expectation for airing the real events and news, it
shouldn't let anyone to abuse its popularity by exploiting and using it
as a SPDC's propagating agency. RFA should prevent all possible
organized penetration into RFA by the MIS. I don't sincerely know where
RFA (Burmese Service) is heading but I really hope that it is going to
help the people of Burma by exploring the chance to reach the people by
the effective and useful radio programs.
Finally, I would like to suggest that if RFA includes more educational
programs about capacity building and self reliance, it will be very
helpful for the isolated Burmese people to learn such things.
I hope that my suggestions are helpful for RFA's operations in
promoting democracy education.
Burmese democratic groups
Burma related NGOs
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