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Mizzima: The military has no option
The military has no option other than to transfer power to the NLD, said
Burmese minister in exiled government
New Delhi, May 17, 2000
Mizzima News Group
The National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Nobel Peace
Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won 392 of the 485 parliamentary seats in
the 27 May 1990 elections in Burma. However, the military regime
continues to refuse to keep their pre-election pledge to honour the will
of the Burmese people and ignore the result. Coming May 27 will be the
tenth anniversary of the National League for Democracy's landslide
According to Amnesty International, more than 1,000 political activists
were sent to prisons last year alone. 55 Members of Parliament were
incarcerated as of March 2000. Five Members of Parliament have died
while in detention. Total 23 MPs are in exile, including five in India.
In an interview with Mizzima News Group, Dr. Tint Swe, Member of
Parliament from NLD, hopes that the military junta will at last hand
over power to the NLD. According to him, the common people, even
soldiers have suffered both physically and psychologically during the
last ten years under the tight control of military junta. But the NLD
continues to enjoy the support of the people.
He also criticized India's current policy towards Burma and asked for
the review. The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
(NCGUB) which was constituted by exiled Members of Parliament has
recently launched a signature campaign, " Worldwide MP Solidarity
Campaign", seeking the support of Members of Parliament worldwide to the
democratic movement in Burma. Total 201 Members of Parliament from 82
countries have supported the campaign so far.
The following is the interview with Dr. Tint Swe, who is also the South
Asian Affairs Minister of the NCGUB.
Q. How do you assess the period of last ten years?
A. In fact, it is a decade in terms of generation. If we think of
history, it is just a short period of time. On the contrary, during that
short span of time, it is true that the same group of people had to
suffer and at the same time, another group of people benefited. It is
truly unfair. The students, the monks, the party organizers, supporters
and duly elected Hluttaw Representatives have been in jails and
detention centers. The entire people from all walks of life suffered.
Only a handful of elites was being well off. Even the army itself is
subjected to suffer both physically and psychologically. It is because
many soldiers feel that because of those authorities, they lost their
dignity. That very ten years made different of such sort.
Q. Do you think that there are positive moves both by the government and
NLD party in the last ten years towards democracy in Burma?
A. I don't want to use the word "positive" in this case. All moves
initiated by NLD can be regarded as all legitimate. NLD called for
encouraged to talk. From the side of military regime, they did not say
any word like democracy during the first 5 years. Bowing to pressures
from outside, they started saying democracy of what they feel
comfortable. All moves done by SLORC/SPDC were nothing to do with
democracy what the people of Burma wanted for. I don't think it is
positive or healthy. Contrary to that they are doing nothing good
towards democracy because they are afraid of democracy for no reason.
Q. How about economic situation in Burma? Does it improve in the past
ten years or get worse?
A. You can use any type of parameter to measure the economy of Burma
under that regime. See the State budget or household budget. All are in
shamble. A county, which is doing economy well, will improve the living
standard especially for education, health and social security. But the
budgets (of Burmese government) for these sectors are diminishing year
by year. The official currency, Kyat is no worthier than a paper. The
government, which printed does not in confidence with Kyat. It is not
useful to pay the government bills like overseas phone calls.
Q. We read in government papers every day that such and such members of
NLD party had resigned. Did NLD party lose people's support in the last
A. How would you like to measure the support of the people? There are
two means of measuring it: by voice or by vote. Our people were allowed
show their desire only twice since 1980s. Once in 1988, they came out to
streets and voiced for fall of one-party system and called for
democracy. In 1990 elections they cast vote for NLD. Since then, no
voice was allowed to express. The vote of 1990 has not been overruled.
It is as valid as of 1990.
Only those who have the experience of living under a brutal dictator can
understand why NLD members resigned. That figure necessarily reflects
neither the voice nor the vote. In other way, why media is tightly
controlled and why NLD was not allowed to hold meetings? Because they
are afraid of voice. Why universities and colleges are closed? And why
more than 1500 political prisoners are not released? So, I am confident
to say that the support of the people to NLD is the same that of 1990.
Q. India policy towards Burmese government has changed recently. It
is now for the closer ties with the government in Burma. Does this have
any effect on the Burmese activists in India? What would you like to say
India's current policy towards Burma?
A. Many countries in this world see only the interest or so-called
interest. They sometimes missed important obligations. In many
countries, business or moneymaking elites influence over the
governments. In some
cases, military guides the country. Sometimes, bureaucrats manipulate
I strongly argue that India needs to review her policy towards Burma.
India should be a nation, which can go global. If it is so, India should
go beyond the sub-continent. Burma is permanent close neighbor. It is a
matter of a short period, that Burma will be a democracy. So for two
reasons, one to go global and two to have a friendly close neighbor,
India must review her policy towards Burma.
So far we Burmese democrats in India are fine. But the impact on Burmese
democrats is to say we regret.
Q. Are you hopeful that military government in Burma will at last hand
over power to NLD?
A. Yes, seriously I am. There is no option for military other than
over the power, which is not their inheritance. They do know that they
can't go along with it. They are finding way for exit. NLD has shown it
i.e. a dialogue.
Q. What the opposition political activists in exile are doing for the
restoration of democracy in Burma?
A. Our obligation is for international interactions because we are
the country and have access to the outside world. We keep Burma issue
alive. We raise Burma issue at high. We seek support for restoration of
democracy. We launch campaigns in support of all calls made by NLD and
all from inside. At the same time, we work together with ethnic people
so that we can share our thought and finding good ways for the future.
Q. You mentioned that you are carrying out a signature campaign,
requesting Members of Parliament in India to support the democratic
movement in Burma. How far it is successful?
A. In fact, the NCGUB took initiative of "Worldwide MP Solidarity
Campaign". As a team leader I went to Amman, Jordan to launch that
campaign at 103rd Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference. We got 201
signatures of MPs from 82 countries including one Indian MP. Before I
went there, my colleagues and I have started the campaign here in India.
Unlike many Western, African and Latin American countries, many Asian
countries are yet to change their mind-set. In case of Asia, credit goes
to Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal and Cambodia. So far, we got 4 from
Philippines, 3 from Bangladesh, 3 from Cambodia, 3 from Nepal, and 1
each from Indonesia and India.
The priority we gave in Amman was to request MPs to bring our campaign
packages back to their respective Parliaments to seek more signatures.
countries agreed to do so. Till today, we have got 499 signatures. We
declare that results in Jakarta where 104th IPU conference would be held
in Jakarta, Indonesia in October. We expect 1000 of signatures around
the world then.