[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
Asiaweek - We Have Compromised - 6
- Subject: Asiaweek - We Have Compromised - 6
- From: tinkyi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 06 Jun 1999 19:44:00
We Have Compromised - 6
"Why should I? What for? I mean, I do go around. But I don't go out just in
order to be seen going out. I go out when there is reason for me to go out.
We always go to NLD functions, that is to say, you know, for example, if any
member of the NLD dies, we always rally round and organize the funeral and
religious rites and so on. On these occasions I do go. And I do go to
certain social functions, family affairs and so on. But I don't go walkabout
just for the sake of going walkabout if that is what they mean. I do go to
the pagoda occasionally."
And within Yangon city you are fairly unrestricted?
"Yes. I don't go shopping very often, I took my son shopping the other day.
But I really don't have much to shop for. Because what would I shop for? I
live at home. I don't have family here so I don't have a family to shop
How do you feel about being called tags like the 'champion of democracy' and
the 'heroine of Burma' and so on?
"I don't take them really too seriously. The tags change all the time, don't
But you are one of the few figures who are recognized all over the world.
"I don't think so. I think there are many others who are supposed to be
champions of certain causes, not necessarily just democracy."
But in the context of being a champion fighting against great odds, you're
seen as comparable to the Dalai Lama.
"Well, I don't think anything particular about it. For me it is just a job
that has to be done."
Not a martyr?
"No. No, I don't have a martyr complex. What you need are workers, not
You did say at one time that you had no ill feelings toward the military for
putting you under house arrest, 'I do have a soft spot for the Myanmar army,
it's because of my father,' you said.
"Yes, I don't hold it against them because they put me under house arrest."
"No. Why? It's part of the job. You know."
People say this intractable impasse has become worse because it has become
personalized. That there appears to be personal animosity between the
principals on both sides.
Yourself and -
"And who? That's when they say the regime leaders and then one is not quite
sure who is actually the dominant leader of the regime. So that's also only
speculative. If they mean me and all the SPDC, then it's not personal any
more, is it. Because it's all of them."
Okay, you and General Khin Nyunt.
"Khin Nyunt, I don't even know him. I've met him one, two, three times. And
we haven't had enough dealings with people to be able to say that there's a
personal animosity between us. I don't know if there is on his side, but
certainly not on mine. It's very difficult to have a personal animosity
against somebody whom you've only met two or three times under rather formal
But based on that limited experience with him.
"No, there was no grounds for personal animosity at all. We don't like in
the least bit what the MI Military Intelligence, which Khin Nyunt heads are
doing, but that's not personal. It's the MI as an organization and it's
actions that we object to. It's not to do with Khin Nyunt as a person."
Under the right circumstances you feel you could work with him?
"I don't know whether I can get along with him or not, but there's no reason
why we should not be able to get work done if there is work to be done
He has been termed the 'prince of darkness' by some publications.
"I don't know why. I think military intelligence organizations everywhere
are terrible. They go in for torture and oppression and a whole lot of
nastiness, so as somebody who represents such an organization I suppose you
can call him all sorts of things but I think expressions like the 'prince of
darkness' are rather too dramatic."
The domestic media in these critical articles about you, refer to you as the
'bogadaw' - it means the foreigner, doesn't it?
"Oh, I think it means the wife of a white man. Well, I am the wife of an
The cast doubts on your citizenship because you lived abroad, mostly in
England, for such a long time. Are you a Burmese citizen?
"Yes, I am a Burmese citizen."
Do you have a British passport?
"No, I don't. I have never had one. I think that upsets them, that I've
never held any other nationality except Burmese. I think they would be very
happy if they could say that I had ever been a citizen of another country."
The government says that you showed little interest in your country when you
lived abroad, you never reported to the embassy in London and so forth. That
effectively you turned your back on Burma for 20 odd years.
"They can say whatever they like. For example, they say I didn't register my
children at the embassy of Burma in London. And I was amused because it's
precisely because I registered my children at the embassy that they thought
of saying that I didn't. Some of the things they say are just downright
lies. They say my husband moved from a small house in England into a huge
one which he bought with the money that I got from my Nobel Prize. When in
fact he moved from a whole house into an apartment at the top of a bigger
house. Because an apartment house is obviously much more bigger than a
family home. And they knew it was a lie, but they kept saying it
Do you still feel bitter about the way they refused to let your husband
visit you in Myanmar before he died?
"I don't discuss family matters."
"Because I want my family to be able to maintain their privacy. And people
are interested in me for the politics that I'm doing so let's stick to
But in the democratic world it's a fact of life for public figures to have
aspects of their private life made public.
"This is not a democratic world in which I'm living."
But if it became one you'd have to discuss your private life.
"Well, it depends on what you mean by having to discuss it. I don't think
there is a requirement as such. You can choose to discuss it or choose not
Your health is good?
Are you rich?
"No. But I'm all right. I'm not rich, I have earnings from my books
royalities which by Burmese standards are good. But compared to the members
of SPDC I'm nothing like wealthy."
You are legally secretary-general of the NLD?
The regime says not.
"Yes, they have no right to say that. According to the rules of the
multi-party democracy elections commission, it's for the political parties
to decide what they do in their own internal affairs."
Are you going to leave the country?
"No. Why should I?"
You would never take a trip because you are fearful they would not allow you
"Oh, well, there will come a time when I will be able to take a trip without
worrying about whether I can come back."
Some people, other journalists and diplomats, told me that you are
thin-skinned and get upset at certain questions.
"Why? I have met many journalists, and they all ask the same sort of
questions you want to ask. And the only ones I consistently refuse to answer
is anything about my family. Otherwise it is a journalist's job to ask
questions. Whether or not the interviewee likes the question is another
matter. There are diplomats with whom I disagree. And if I don't agree with
them, I say so. They say so, too. Which is fair enough. But I've met so many
journalists that if I were to be upset every time they asked me a question
that was not exactly what I wanted I'd have to be upset all the time. I've
never heard of anybody ever being asked to be tactful about my feelings. I
mean, I take it for granted that politicians are there to be asked questions
however awkward the questions may be."