Mark My Words
covering burma and southeast asia
Saturday, October 20, 2018


Mark My Words


(Page 2 of 2)

Q: Turning back to politics, what about Burma’s neighbors?
A: There’s a key role for the countries of the region. Everyone understands the intractable nature of this problem. For the members of Asean, the situation poses an obvious reputational challenge—at the very time they are launching the human rights charter, we have a member flouting the standards it is designed to promote and as the situation declines—and it will—the practical effects on the neighbors are likely to become more pronounced.

Q: There has been a great deal of speculation that Aung San Suu Kyi could be released this year. If so, what do you think she will be able to achieve?

A: Whether she’ll be freed we obviously don’t know, but she should be. She has made clear repeatedly her willingness to work with the government and other political and ethnic nationality forces to address the challenges this country faces.

The fact that she’s under house arrest suggests she’s regarded as a threat. But she’s actually an opportunity in the sense that she could be instrumental in helping to forge the sort of broad-based dialogue with the government that is the only way that progress is going to be made.
Q: The regime has accused the British and other Western embassies of meeting
with NLD members. How do you respond to this charge?

A: We keep in touch with as wide a range of opinion as we can. That includes government, as well as a range of other actors, and that’s very much the role of an embassy.

Q: How do you see Burma’s political landscape in 2010 and beyond? What is the UK government’s stance on the 2010 election?

A: The coming year will obviously be dominated by preparations for the elections in 2010, and we’ll presumably soon get some more details of what the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] will allow in terms of participation. This can all represent a healing process, and a step on the way to resolving longstanding political difficulties—or it can be the opposite, as has been the case till now.

There’s clearly time to make the process more inclusive. The European Union has always made clear that it is willing to respond to movement in a positive direction. Clearly, you can not have a credible electoral process without certain things happening—the release of political prisoners; engagement between government, opposition and the ethnic nationalities—and those are the criteria against which it should be judged.

For the complete interview,
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