In one of her first interviews following the National League for Democracy’s apparent victory at the polls, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday spoke to U Khin Maung Soe, Senior Editor for Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service. U Khin Maung Soe has permitted Frontier to reprint parts of the interview which touched on a wide range of issues including foreign policy, foreign investment and the need to look out for “instigations.”
The NLD won the majority of the seats they contested. What factors do you think made it possible to win in such a big margin?
That’s because NLD is close to the people. NLD was born from the people. NLD members are from the people. Our hearts beat on the same note. We struggled together, we suffered together, we hoped together. We dreamed together for nearly 30 years. NLD and the people are colleagues, comrades-in-arms, and I think that’s the reason they supported us.
How free and fair do you think the elections were?
You know we have made many complaints regarding violations. We made these complaints not because we want to stir up problems. Our people need to believe that these elections are really free and fair, and that’s why we had to submit official complaints against actions which are not in accord with the rules and regulations. Some cases have to be reported to the police, some to the Commission. And we cannot say such cases are very few.
Some USDP candidates conceded defeat and congratulated their respective NLD rivals who won the polls. What do you think of that?
These actions are politically honourable and I respect them. I’d like to say I truly thank them.
Some people are still suspicious of the military. They are not sure the military will totally honor the results. Can you comment on this?
It’s natural that they have suspicions, but we cannot be caught in the bonds of suspicions. A people’s army should be hand in glove with the people. Military representatives in the Hluttaw have told me more than once that they also want to be with the people.
People have accepted your slogan “Time for real change”. What are you going to do in the first place?
Well, the first thing is to bring out the change in the administration. This will be the first major change.
People have been left with three legacies since the military takeover in 1962 — selfishness, mistrust of others and fear of everyone. What will you do to get rid of these three legacies?
You said selfishness first, and then mistrust and fear. Actually, it is the other way round. It starts with fear. When fear sets in, you don’t trust others and when you don’t trust anyone then you become selfish. What you said was opposite with that. To abolish fear correctly is to nurture law and order. I have said it again and again. People need security of the mind. Why do they want democracy? Because it can give them freedom and security in a balanced way. People must have freedom and at the same time they must have security. They mustn’t be using freedom to fight with each other. When they have security of the mind, their fears will subside, their mistrust of others will also decline. There will be no need to worry somebody would be looking at you with jealousy.
When will we see the changes?
First we must be able to form a government. After that, we’d have to lay down, as a duty, in front of the people what we will do during a certain time frame. NLD has such plans to carry out, not vague statements like we’ll give you a better economy or a better health sector. It has to be clear and precise, but we will need to become a government first.
What will you do to form a government then?
Well, we just can’t do it ourselves. The present government will have to cooperate. The UEC must finish its work first.
Can you tell us your thoughts about foreign investments and utilization of the country’s natural resources?
Of course we need foreign investments and at the same time we have to use the natural resources to a certain extent. There will be projects where we need foreign investments. The important thing is for our people to enjoy some of the benefits. Foreign investors will not come and do things without any returns for themselves, and we don’t expect them to come work for us free. But the local population should benefit. The locals should benefit just a little more than these companies.
Can you tell us about your foreign policy?
The non-aligned policy practiced since Independence was very successful. We played well with our neighbours, India as well as the People’s Republic of China. We had good ties with other Southeast Asian nations too. We had no animosity towards anyone.
Do you want you to say something to the people?
I would just like to thank all the people. I appreciate and value the support of the people, but it’s not finished yet and I’d like to caution all to look out for instigations. In the next few weeks, couple of months, people must be able to control themselves, beware of instigations aimed at creating riots and disturbances. There might be provocations from the sidelines when you are walking your own path but these can be overcome by trust and understanding of each other and it is important to calmly move towards the goal. And I believe you all can do it. In one word, thank you all very much.