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General criticizes Suu Kyi for obst
- Subject: General criticizes Suu Kyi for obst
- From: brelief@xxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 20:12:00
Subject: General criticizes Suu Kyi for obstructing path to multiparty
system (From the japan times)
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
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The Japan Times editors can be reached at:
Fax: +81 3- 3453-5456
By mail: The Japan Times, Tokyo 108 - 0023
The Japan Times
Sanctions failing to sway Myanmar
General criticizes Suu Kyi for obstructing path to multiparty system
By Hisane Masaki
Is Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win an easygoing person?
The top Myanmar military intelligence official heard many grating
voices on his maiden trip to Japan, yet he seemed to have taken them
Although State Foreign Secretary Nobutaka Machimura urged Kyaw Win to
engage in a dialogue with opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar official flatly rejected the proposal.
He implicitly accused her of "hampering national unification and
economic development" in calling for industrialized countries to
continue economic sanctions against the impoverished Southeast Asian
In an interview with The Japan Times before leaving Tokyo Kyaw Win
said, "Suu Kyi is an unelected, private citizen. The government wants
official meetings with representatives of all political. But including
a private, unelected citizen in such official meetings is not
In recent years, the United States and European countries have
toughened economic sanctions and political pressures on Myanmar for
the military government's alleged violations of human rights and
Kyaw Win responded, "We see their policy as not being very practical.
If you do not have a strong economy..transformation from the political
system to another?c will not be possible."
He contended, "Her (Suu Kyi) opposition to foreign aid, investment and
tourism is making the man on the street suffer," and is therefore
causing frustration for ordinary citizens.
The military intelligence chief flatly denied international charges
that Yangon is involved in drug trafficking.
"We can challenge the world: Show us one piece of evidence that the
government is involved in narcotic trafficking," he said.
The military took power in Myanmar in a 1988 coup and put Suu Kyi
under house arrest in 1989. The coup leaders then annulled the results
of the 1990 national elections, which Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy had won in a landslide victory. Japan is credited for having
played a key role in persuading the military authorities to release
Suu Kyi from house arrest in 1995.
Kyaw Win's visit to Japan was in itself a controversial event-although
it was a relatively low-profile tour-because he was invited by the
Foreign Ministry. While many high-level officials of the military
regime, or the State Peace and Development Council as it call itself
have visited Japan in the past, they have done so at the invitation of
the private sector, mostly business sponsors.
On the day Kyaw Win arrived in Tokyo, dissidents and supporters of Suu
Kyi staged protests to urge the government to ban visit by Myanmar
Two days later, the National League for Democracy the biggest
opposition force led by Suu Kyi, issued a statement criticizing Tokyo
for inviting the general. The NLD stated it was disappointed at
Tokyo's invitation of a high ranking official of the military
intelligence organization, which it claimed, was responsible for
suppressing pro-democracy movements in Myanmar.
Kyaw Win is considered the right hand man of Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the
first secretary of the SPDC and the regime's intelligence chief. Kyaw
Win also serves as deputy director general of the Defense Ministry's
Office of Strategic Studies, which is headed by Khin Nyunt. The
Strategic Studies Center will function as a think tank for the
commander in chief of the defense services where a civilian government
is eventually formed.
Defending their invitation to the general, Foreign Ministry officials
have said his visit was aimed at giving the influential SPDC figure an
opportunity to hear various opinions in Japan.
Ministry officials said that, although some Japanese are sympathetic
with the SPDC, others have not been and are even critical of the SPDC.
The official also emphasized the importance of strengthening Japanese
channels of dialogue with the NLD as well as with the SPDC, to help
break the deadlock in Myanmar's political situation.
The following are excerpts from the interview with Kyaw Win.
THE JAPAN TIMES: - How do you view the significance of your trip to
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - The main purpose (of the trip) is to enhance a
friendly relationship with Japan. At the same time, I am here to tell
and explain to our friends in Japan the current situation in Myanmar
because there is a lot of misinformation. I met a lot of people from
various circles, including nongovernmental organizations. I listened
to their suggestions and their viewpoints. At the same time, I tried
to give my views on the situation. It was a very fruitful exchange. I
appreciate this opportunity very much.
THE JAPAN TIMES: - How do you view the policy of sanctions on Myanmar
by the U.S. and European industrialized countries?
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - We see their policy as not very practical.
Actually, if you do not have a strong economy - if you do not have a
strong basic infrastructure - transformation from one political system
into another, especially from a one-party socialist system into a
multiparty political system, will not possible. So we think their
policy is not very practical, not realistic.
THE JAPAN TIMES: - While calling for improvements in the protection of
human rights and democratic principles in Myanmar, Japan has pursued a
policy of "constructive engagement" with Myanmar, instead of isolating
it internationally. At the same time, Japan has suspended fresh
economic aid for Myanmar, except for humanitarian purposes. What is
your view on the Japanese policy toward your country? Do you have any
specific requests to Japan with regards to economic aid and other
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - The policy the Japanese government has been
pursuing toward Myanmar is practical because sanctions, boycott and
embargo, unreality, do not help our transition to a democracy. We do
not have any specific requests. Japan used to be one of the biggest
donors in the past. Of course, there are various reasons Japan cannot
extend (fresh) official development assistance to Myanmar. But we
believe in the near future Japan may be able to extend assistance for
education and other sectors.
THE JAPAN TIMES: - Why is the SPDC adamantly resisting international
calls for dialogue with Suu Kyi and the NLD? A new constitution being
drafted is criticized by many in the international community because
it would exclude her from office.
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - I think you are misunderstanding the situation,
because the government of Myanmar is very much willing to have
dialogue not only with the NLD but also with all other political
parties. Unfortunately, it was the NLD (that rejected dialogue). The
NLD rejected meetings taking place. For example, we have extended an
invitation twice. But it was rejected by the other side.
We are looking forward to another meeting. This is a confidence
building measure-taking place between the government and the NLD. We
believe that this has been unfortunately sabotaged by their intention
of trying to convene a parliament (based on the 1990 elections).
Suu Kyi is an unelected, private citizen. The government wants
meetings with representatives of all political parties. But including
a private, unelected citizen in such official meetings is not
appropriate. The meetings should be concluded with the aim of doing
serious work solving Myanmar challenges.
Because of the original 1948 constitution written by her father
(independence hero Gen. Aung San), she cannot run for office in
Myanmar. Also, she has lived in foreign countries for nearly 30 years.
What Gen. Aung San put in the 1948 constitution was a clause that any
person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a
foreign power is not entitled to contest a seat in elections. She does
not know much about the actual situation in Myanmar.
THE JAPAN TIMES: - Is there a possibility that Suu Kyi will deported
amid the continuing showdown between the SPDC and her NLD?
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - This (deportation) is the wishes of people on
the streets. This is not a government policy. Her opposition to
foreign aid, investment and tourism is making the man on the street
suffer. The people are getting frustrated. After 10 years, the NLD has
not done any single for them. They (NLD people) are always shouting
human rights and democracy. But the most important thing for average
men and women is (to meet) human needs.
THE JAPAN TIMES: - The International Labor Organization issued a
report last summer criticizing widespread forced labor in Myanmar.
There are also international accusations that the SPDC is involved in
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - This (ILO report) is (based on)
misunderstanding. The ILO does not understand the Myanmar situation.
The ILO is just listening to what antigovernment people are saying and
is accusing us of forced labor.
Regarding the narcotics issue, we can challenge the world: Show us one
piece of evidence that the government is involved in narcotics
trafficking. We are doing more than our share (to solve the narcotics
problem) because we are one of few governments in the world that is
doing much anti-narcotics activities without any outside assistance.
>From 1988 until today, we have lost 766 soldiers in fighting against
THE JAPAN TIMES: - Immediately after gaining entry to the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations in summer 1997, fellow ASEAN members were
hard hit by the region's financial and economic crisis. Myanmar has
since seen a sharp decline in foreign investment especially from ASEAN
members. The Asian economic malaise also led to the collapse in May
of President Suhato's regime in Indonesia, which the SPDC was believed
to have seen as a political model for Myanmar. Has much of what you
initially expected from ASEAN membership been lost?
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - Unfortunately, last year there was a financial
crisis and a lot of our friends in Asia were directly affected. But
Myanmar was indirectly affected. They (fellow ASEAN members) cannot
invest in Myanmar as much as they want to. But we are trying to
resolve the problem by putting greater emphasis on the agricultural
sector. So we are trying to solve the problem in our way.
We are optimistic that in the near future, ASEAN countries will once
again have strong economics and that we will be able to help each
other. Regarding (the political upheaval in) Indonesia, we are not
carbon-copying the Indonesian Constitution. Myanmar is quite different
THE JAPAN TIMES: - There are concern among many ASEAN members about
the potential of China posing a security threat. Though an ASEAN
member, Myanmar has developed military and other relations with China
in recent years. What is the SPDC's policy toward China? Is further
development in military ties between Myanmar and China in the works?
Brig. Gen. Kyaw Win - Yes, we have developed a good relationship with
China, because China is among countries that have assisted and
supported us when Myanmar was facing times on difficulties from 1988
onward. But the Myanmar government's policy is that we always have
five principles for peaceful coexistence. Myanmar is a friend of all
nations. We are not anybody's ally. Myanmar will never allow any
foreign troops on its soil.
(posted to soc.culture.burma by SOBA)