Suu Kyi’s Next Move
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Suu Kyi’s Next Move


By AUNG ZAW DECEMBER, 2010 - VOL.18, NO.12


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Suu Kyi steps into the fray at a time when the NLD desperately requires fresh ideas and strong leadership

After keeping Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than seven continuous years, on Nov. 13, less than one week after holding a highly controversial general election, the Burmese military regime finally freed her.

The international community joined Burmese at home and abroad in welcoming Suu Kyi back from political and social isolation. The junta leaders, on the other hand, treated the release as if they had just pardoned a convicted criminal. Nothing more, nothing less.

While the release was labeled “unconditional,” many skeptics asked the question: how long can the pro-democracy figurehead enjoy her freedom before being locked up again? If Suu Kyi tests the limits of how far she can push forward in her quest for justice, freedom and democracy, sooner or later she will cross an invisible line that marks the threshold of Snr-Gen Than Shwe’s patience.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi has been arrested, convicted and detained so many times by now that even Burma’s military-run courts may have run out of excuses for imprisoning her one more time.

There is a very real fear throughout the country that Suu Kyi may be assassinated.

New Parliament, Same Old Government

Suu Kyi is entering into a new political arena, and faces a mountain of challenges. Naypyidaw will soon open the doors of its newly constructed parliament building and host a freshly appointed government and president, all convened under the terms of a new constitution.

Despite all the benchmarks for a fresh start, few observers doubt that the opposition, and Suu Kyi in particular, will continue to be ignored by the junta.

The pro-democracy voices among the international community are also impatient—they urgently require an end to the ongoing political stalemate, and if that means shifting policy toward engagement with the incoming “civilian” government, then that’s just what they’ll do.

Washington, the most consistently vocal critic of the Burmese regime, has suddenly done a 180-degree turn on its policy of isolating the generals, and has instead adopted a new approach based on “direct engagement.” This approach is similar to that of several (but not all) European governments that have long advocated engaging the regime and providing more aid inside Burma, while at the same time maintaining sanctions on the ruthless military elite and their cronies.

Changing NLD’s Old Guard

Suu Kyi’s first task is to put her own house in order.

It was recently revealed by WikiLeaks that US diplomatic dispatches attributed the scathing internal criticism of the National League for Democracy’s (NLD’s) senior leadership to their failure to work with 88 Generation Students leaders in 2007 while Buddhist monks were leading nationwide anti-government protests.

“Repeated overtures from and ‘summits’ with the leaders of the 88 Generation in 2007 failed to result in any significant cooperation between the factions,” the cable said, adding that although Suu Kyi remained a popular and beloved figure among most Burmese, this status is not enjoyed by her party.

“Already frustrated with the sclerotic leadership of the elderly NLD ‘Uncles,’ the party lost even more credibility within the pro-democracy movement when its leaders refused to support the demonstrators last September, and even publicly criticized them,” wrote Leslie Hayden, the political and economic affairs chief of the US embassy in Rangoon, in a report in July 2008.

The WikiLeaks cables helped underline what many disenfranchised NLD members have been saying for a long time, which is that, during the 2007 Saffron Revolution, the party leadership under the control of controversial Chairman Aung Shwe remained aloof and distant from the protesters. Aung Shwe and his advisers were known for an extremely cautious approach toward the regime. His move to register the NLD for the election was thwarted and he has since turned his back on the party.

Instead of reaching out to technically sophisticated bloggers and young, Internet-savvy activists, “the Uncles spend endless hours discussing their entitlements from the 1990 elections and abstract policy which they are in no position to enact,” the cable said.

“Additionally, most MPs-elect show little concern for the social and economic plight of most Burmese, and therefore, most Burmese regard them as irrelevant,” it added.

Party sources have told The Irrawaddy that the release in late 2008 of Win Tin, a founding member of the NLD and an outspoken critic of the regime, reinvigorated the party.



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Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
31/12/2010
Oo Maung gyi Wrote:

"This time she should select young and elderly personnel who are selfless and experienced in the political field as well as in international relations." ARE YOU JOKING? Young and elderly selfless? They are all Botaungs; that's why Burma is in such a mess. As for experience, the only experience they have is quareling amongst themselves and talking a lot of rubbish, not understanding political and economic realities - and most importantly the need for vision. They are blinded by their hatred of anyone in uniform, starting from the top to the bottom.

Sadly, the late Shu Maung had kept them all totally ignorant and uneducated - despite the worthless paper degrees from substandard universities.

Millions of blind cannot lead themselves to freedom and prosperity but one man with the vision can lead them to a better life.

Sen-Gen Than Shwe is rather like Oliver Cromwell. You may find it difficult to understand. What happened after Cromwell's 5-year rule? THINK!

Oo Maung gyi Wrote:
29/12/2010
Aung San Suu Kyi needs good and far-sighted advisers at this time, like her father during the pre-independence period. This time she should select young and elderly personnel who are selfless and experienced in the political field as well as in international relations. All the advisers should be between 75 and 90 years of age and in good health--experienced veteran politicians--along with some from the younger generation, aged between 45 and 60. Otherwise to control her party will be difficult at this crucial period to negotiate with the new government, which will have the backing of the dictator.

Ponzi Scheme Wrote:
28/12/2010
Amartya Sen quotes Aung San San Kyi as saying she "hasn't seen any reports from international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that claim sanctions hurt people."

Maybe in future she can ask some of the residents of Yangon for their opinion. Or an American who has had his house repossessed whether the Banks care if they hurt anyone.

Rio Tinto Wrote:
27/12/2010
She could advocate for foreign investment that would improve human rights. She could agree to investment in the mining sector as long as the foreign investors agree to international safety standards and pay a minimum wage.

Improving the working conditions of the population is key; this requires competition.

Suu Kyi may be correct that it is domestic incompetence that is the cause of a disastrous economy; to rectify this there has to be competition.



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