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DASSK's speech on 26-4-99 (translat

Subject: DASSK's speech on 26-4-99 (translation)

National League for Democracy
No:(97/B), West Shwegondine Road
Bahan Township, Bahan

Excerpts from speech made by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the 
National League for Democracy on (26-4-99) (translation)

The question is "What is the political ideology of the present government?"

Since it is a military dictatorship there is no political ideology.  Only 
politicians will have political ideologies. A military dictatorship is 
militaristic and will govern the country from a military point of view. This 
is how I see it.

We who have faith in democracy believe that one cannot govern successfully 
from a militaristic standpoint. This is not said out of disrespect for the 
Tatmadaw. It is not because we want to belittle the role of the military. 
The Tatmadaw has a role. Military rule should be confined to the military. 
It is not appropriate for them to take over the governing of the whole 
country. The laws that are applicable to the battlefield should not be 
applied for governing the whole country. Military rules and regulations are 
designed for victory on the battlefield. Everything has its proper place and 
its proper role. If the Tatmadaw will perform its proper duties with dignity 
and honesty in its proper place there is no reason for us to find it 
unacceptable. We will all respect them. We will cooperate with them.  But in 
governance, there must be  political ideologies and political principles.

Everyone knows that we want a democratic system, which is one of many 
political systems. The people have already indicated their preference for 
democracy as evidenced in the results of the 1990 general elections.  Even 
before independence was gained, my father declared that democracy is the 
only system suitable for an independent country. Why is this a fact. A 
country is truly independent when its entire people truly enjoy freedom. No 
way can a country be said to be independent if its people are denied all 
their rights and have no security or freedom. What do we need then for this 
sort of country where people have no freedom or security and no personal 
rights?  We need democracy. We have been saying this over and over again.

Democracy is not the perfect system.  We humans too are not perfect.  No 
political system is perfect.  But learned political leaders have claimed 
that human beings are so equipped that they deserve democracy.  The system 
has its weaknesses.  These weaknesses of man can be controlled by a 

democratic system.  It exercises control over those who govern the country. 
Government is composed of people not angels. So there are controls in the 
democratic system, which act as a check on the people who govern the 
country. On the other hand it is because of the strength of the people that 
the democratic system endures. Democracy will work if we embrace it and 
systematically put it into practice. These are the observations of a 
political exponent and something that I can accept.

I have said this very often before. Only a democratic system provides for 
controls over a government.  The people can set boundaries for the 
government. For people to have the ability to prevent governments acting 
beyond the jurisdiction prescribed for them and trespassing on their rights 
it is necessary that democracy be established and flourish.

Some have said that Burma is not fit for democracy. Others claim that 
democracy is not appropriate for the east.  These comments are made and 
spoken by people who do not want to adhere to democratic principles because 
they want to withhold democracy from us. We are all human beings. Are we 
inferior to other people? Should we have less freedom than others? Those 
kind of comments amount to denigrating us. What do they mean when they say 
that democracy is for the western countries only?

Really, those people who make such statements place the westerners in a high 
position and downgrade their own people. Doesn't it amount to saying "As for 
us, we are not good enough, but they are good enough?"

That is completely unacceptable to us. Our people have the necessary 
qualifications for democracy. Yes, we have the qualifications but some of 
these qualifications are dormant.  We can accept that position. Why?  It 
cannot be denied that the environment and experiences effect people's 
characters.  When people are subjected to great pressure and restrictions 
and are continuously terrorised, it does not mean that they have no courage. 
  According to the prevailing circumstances, fear engulfs them. Courage and 
Fear are like two sides of a coin. One cannot exist without the other.  
Courage does not exist when there is nothing to be afraid of.  Some claim 
that they know no fear - (It is only the foolish that don't know fear.  They 
are not the ones who are truly brave). Genuine courage is when you can 
overcome fear.

We repeatedly tell you to build up your courage, nurture it, and let it 
grow. When we ask you not to be afraid, we do not mean that the principle of 
fear must be ignored. We are human beings and we must acknowledge that fear 
does exist.  But we want to be able to overcome that fear and not let fear 
overcome us.  This is what we mean. We ask you to overcome that fear and do 
whatever has to be done. Why do we want that democratic system? Because 
under a democratic system the people have many opportunities to overcome 
those fears.  But we first need to conquer that fear to obtain that 

I'm talking about how we have to be struggling and resisting all the time. 
To obtain our goal, we will have to go screaming and kicking all the way.  

Only when we reach our goal that screaming and kicking will be less severe 
and things will settle down.  The present government does not conform to any 
political system.  There is no need to be wondering about the system. A 
military system is military dictatorship. There is no denying this fact.  
The Tatmadaw was not created to govern a country. Its duty is to defend the 
people. It has been created for the defense of the country. I know very well 
the objectives my father had when he created the Tatmadaw.  He has clearly 
stated them in his speeches.  It was not created for political purposes.  
Therefore the Tatmadaw must be a-political. We have to accept this notion.  
Even if some may have political leanings, it must not be displayed.  The 
country suffers when they interfere in politics.  We do not want them to do 
things that damage the country.  This is not because we have no love for the 
Tatmadaw.  We have repeatedly claimed that our love for the Tatmadaw is 
constant.  For example, the parent who tells a child who hasn't got a 
singing voice and can never hit the right notes that he should try to become 
a renowned singer is not one who has genuine love for the child. On the 
other hand, a sincere parent would lovingly advise such a child to restrict 
his singing to the bathroom just for the pleasure of it but that it would 
not be proper for him to perform on the stage.

So with complete love and good feeling our advice is that "It is not proper 
for the Tatmadaw to take up politics."  This is also said out of love and 
good feeling for the people and the Tatmadaw.  We ask that you refrain from 
activities that are not appropriate and proper.  If you have gone down the 
wrong path we ask you to halt now.  Who has said that since you have done it 
once, you must keep on doing it?  According to our religious teachings, when 
we find that something we had done is wrong and inappropriate we can stop 
and turn around.  We have no intentions of pointing a finger and recalling 
the things of the past.  Because the Tatmadaw is actively involved in 
politics and in the administration and in government we are saying that it 
is not what they should be doing. There will be no need for us to mention 
these things if the Tatmadaw carried out its own duties as it should and 
plays the role it was meant to play.  We do not have the inclination or 
desire to "chew the cud".  Only cows do that - not human beings.

We do not want to repeat over and over again what has happened in the past.  
We are talking about the present.  I believe that we need to establish 
democracy so that we can overcome all the problems that the country is now 
facing.  The Tatmadaw members need to help us. I would like the Tatmadaw to 
join with us in establishing genuine democracy. Once the Tatmadaw proclaims 
a certain political ideology it becomes tainted. It becomes biased.  It 
should be pure with a single and upright objective, which is to defend the 
people. This is what I want to say.

13 May 1999

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