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Date: Thu, 30 Nov 95 14:15:20 GST+0930
[From "The Australian" Wednesday November 29 1995]
BURMESE JUNTA OFFERS NOTHING NEW
Rangoon: Burma's military regime refused to make any concessions to
Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy movement at yesterday's national
convention, re-emphasising its crucial objective of a new
constitution enshrining a permanent armed-forces role in national
The disappointed head of Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy,
Mr Aung Shwe, walked from the national convention after hearing a 35
minute speech by Lt General Mya Nywnt, a senior member of the SLORC
Mr Shwe summed up the general's speech in two words: "Nothing new".
Earlier he had told The Australian that his delegation had come to
listen to what SLORC had to say and would then make a decision on
whether to boycott the convention. Asked when the decision would be
made, he said with typical Burmese ellipsis," The time will come and
then you will know".
Ms Suu Kyi and the NLD are now between a rock and a hard place. Last
week she described the convention as flawed, fixed and its present
form not acceptable to the people of Burma. "And a constitution that
is not supported by the people will be nothing more than a piece of
paper" she said.
Lt General Nywnt said yesterday that the national convention had been
achieving successes and SLORC did not want this threatened " at any
cost". It was looked upon by the army and the people as "the apple
of their eye".
He told the delegates that SLORC would not accept any disturbances or
disruptions - apparently another warning to the NLD that it would be
held responsible if the people took to the streets in protest against
the refusal to even discuss compromise.
He had begun his speech by saying that the guiding principles of the
convention would be maintained. They include the establishment of a
"flourishing multi-party democracy". So would the procedures - which
include a selection process of delegates giving SLORC appointees an
The NLD won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections, taking 392 of
486 contested seats, but SLORC blocked it from power. In the
natiuonal convention it has 97 delegates out of 703.
If it contineus to participate it will either give the national
convention credibility or simply lose its own. On Monday it made
another attempt to open a dialogue with the SLORC by writing a 20
page letter to the Election Commission, requesting reform of the
convention and the beginning of talks.
The commission however is regarded as a rubber stamp of the SLORC.
An NLD source said yesterday that if Ms Suu Kyi only recently
released from six years house arrest, led a boycott of thre
convention, she faced rearrest and imprisonment for 20 years under
regulations that procrsibe the blocking of its objectives. The NLD
could alsobe disbanded.
It is doubtful whether any of the other political parties which share
token representation, would follow the NLD out of the convention.
Certainly the 234 peasants, woprkers, intelligentsia, technocrats and
bureaucrats chosen by local SLORC-appointed committes would not.
The other major bloc - 215 representatives of Burma's ethnic
minorities- are fighting their own battles in the convention. Many of
the minorities have been fighting the central government troops in
jungle and mountain battlefields for decades.
A leader of the Karen delegation, Mr U Saw Than Aung told The
Australian, that the convention gave them a chance to work for an
autonamous State with real power. He said, however, that the Karen
had not surrendered to the SLORC.
"We have come with guns in hands to work together for a solution". he
One minority representative said that Ms Suu Kyi had played one card
with her public attack on the convention and the propsoeed
"Now we are waiting to see is she has another".