[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

SCMP-I can't win on my own: Aung Sa

Subject: SCMP-I can't win on my own: Aung San Suu Kyi 

SCMP May 17, 1999.
Monday  May 17  1999

I can't win on my own: Aung San Suu Kyi

Uphill struggle: Aung San Suu Kyi (right), talks with NLD supporters in
Rangoon. She said problems in the country were worse than before the
pro-democracy uprising of 1988. Agence France-Presse photo
Burma is at a crisis point, with soaring inflation, collapsing health
services and an uneducated generation of young people with little hope for
the future, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said.

But, in an interview last week, she insisted it was a fallacy to think that
she, or even her National League for Democracy (NLD), could break the
military's stranglehold on power and give people the democracy they voted
for overwhelmingly in 1990.

"I don't think I myself alone can do anything. I think this is a fallacy to
think that one person or even one organisation can change a whole society,"
she said at her dilapidated party headquarters.

In 1990, two years after the military killed thousands of protesters during
a pro-democracy uprising, her party won a landslide victory in Burma's first
democratic election in almost 30 years.

But the junta has refused to give up power, saying it must first draft a
constitution through a convention of handpicked supporters.

"We never look back. There are many differences between 1988 and now.
Everything is worse now than it was in 1988," Ms Aung San Suu Kyi said.

"Every day that the country deteriorates, the credibility and the
respectability of the authorities suffer."

Hundreds of NLD members have been imprisoned, detained or have died under
duress since the election. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's personal freedoms of
movement, association and speech have been severely curtailed and her house
is under constant military surveillance.

No one doubts her moral commitment, but observers in Rangoon are beginning
to question whether Ms Aung San Suu Kyi has the political strength and
versatility to win her protracted battle against the military.

An estimated 26,000 NLD members and 18 MPs have been coaxed into "resigning"
from the party since the latest government crackdown began late last year.

More than 50 party offices have been closed.

The junta's latest bid to break Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's spirit was to deny her
British husband a visa to see her one last time before he died of cancer in
March. She did not want to leave Burma, fearful she would not be allowed
back in.

Despite everything, she expects the people to share her commitment to the
democratic cause.

"I think everybody in this country has a responsibility to get things
moving," the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate said.

"This is what I keep saying to them, they can't just depend on me. You have
to do your own bit . . . the longer [democracy] takes, the better for them
to face this fact that they've got to do it themselves."

Many diplomats in Rangoon disagree with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's analysis,
saying the NLD is running out of options.

Last week a group of NLD MPs held a government-sanctioned press conference
to call on the party to start a dialogue with the junta.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi dismissed them as "collaborators" and said the junta had
no interest in talking.

"Our impression is that there's some genuine disenchantment within the NLD,
and some genuine oppression by the Government as well," one Western envoy

"But if you ask the NLD for some policies you'll get nothing."

An Asian diplomat said the Government's "war of attrition" against the NLD
appeared to be having a measure of success.

"Maybe she has not lost heart and the core of the party has not lost heart,
but a lot of people are just finding it very, very difficult to continue
when their careers are on the line and their families need to be fed," he