THE OBSERVATIONS OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR DEMOCRACY ON THE NATIONAL CONVENTION

 

Full text of the statement delivered by Aung San Suu Kyi at her press conference of 22 November 1995

 

 

A State constitution is a contract between the people and the government of a nation. Only a constitution that is willingly accepted by the people will endure the test of time. The National League for Democracy believes that if genuine multi-party democracy is to be established in Burma a constitution based firmly on democratic principles is an absolute necessity.

 

The NLD was founded with the aim of achieving a genuine democratic system which accords with the will of the people, and of constructing a strong and lasting Union of Burma. It believes that the ultimate power of state derives from the people and that in a democratic nation there should be rule of law and a constitution that guarantees basic human rights, including freedom of worship, freedom of speech and expression and freedom of association. Further, as stated in its election manifesto, the NLD believes that the foundation for a strong, lasting and prosperous union has to be laid through a National Convention where all the ethnic groups of Burma can jointly decide the future course of the Nation.

 

The overwhelming success of the NLD in the elections of 1990 was an endorsement by the people of its principles and policies.

 

The State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) has said it wishes to establish multi-party democracy in Burma and to return power to the people as soon as possible.

 

Slorc declaration number 1/90 of 27 July 1990 states that it is the duty of the elected representatives of the people to draw up a constitution.

 

On 18 October 1990, Slorc secretary(1) confirmed in a speech made at the KyunChaung fertilizer plant that it was the duty of political parties and elected representatives to draw up the State Constitution. During the preliminary discussions on the National Convention the chairman of the National Convention Convening Committee also stated that the elected representatives would be responsible for drawing up the constitution and that decisions based on the presentations of delegates would be arrived at through a democratic process.

 

Political parties were made to sign an undertaking to abide by the terms of declaration 1/90 which remains valid to this day. However the National Convention has not been conducted in accordance with the terms of the declaration. The role of political parties, clearly delineated in the declaration, has been obfuscated.

 

An examination of actual conditions within the National Convention reveals that there has been a shift a way from its original declared aims. The following are some of the features of the present convention:

 

The elected representatives of the people constitute only 15.24 per cent of the delegates and thus are permanently in the minority.

 

Neither the objectives of the Convention nor its working procedures were drawn up in consultation with delegates.

 

Papers to be presented at the Convention are censored and have to be corrected in accordance with the wishes of the authorities.

 

Decisions are laid down before an issue has been fully discussed.

 

The Convention is making decisions not only on broad principles for the proposed constitution but also on its details.

 

There is no fixed timetable for the Convention.

 

The NLD as the political party that has received the mandate of the people has a duty to point out that its expectations with regard to the National Convention have not been realized. The work procedures of the Convention are not democratic and the basic principles for the proposed constitution include some which are not consonant with a truly Democratic State. These problems can only be resolved through dialogue. The NLD invites all concerned to join together in mutual trust and goodwill to work towards building up  genuinely Democratic Nation in accordance with the wishes of the people.

 

If the National Convention continues in its present form it cannot assist in achieving national reconciliation, genuine multi-party democracy, or a state constitution that enjoys the support and confidence of the people. These aims can only be achieved through discussion and dialogue.

 

 

Concluding Statement

 

The National Convention in its present form is not acceptable to the people of Burma and because it not acceptable to the majority of our people it is not acceptable to the National League for Democracy. And a constitution that is drawn up by a National Convention that does not enjoy the confidence of the people will itself not get the support of the people. And a constitution that is not supported by the people will be nothing more than a piece of paper. So we call upon all those concerned to discuss the matter of bringing about a National Convention that is truly acceptable to the people and that will be able to draw up a constitution that will create a lasting democratic Union of Burma. It is for this reason that we have now put out this statement because the National League for Democracy has a duty to proclaim its position to the people who voted for it in 1990. We believe that our statement, our stance will be supported by the great majority of the people of Burma and it is our intention to continue along a path that is always consonant of the will of the people. Thank you.

 

Text ends.