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Suu Kyi selected to remain Myanmar opposition head

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during the second day session of first ever congress of her National League for Democracy party at Royal Rose restaurant in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 10, 2013. Suu Kyi has been elected head of the new executive board of Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy, as the party has a makeover to adjust itself to the country's new democratic framework. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during the second day session of first ever congress of her National League for Democracy party at Royal Rose restaurant in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 10, 2013. Suu Kyi has been elected head of the new executive board of Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy, as the party has a makeover to adjust itself to the country’s new democratic framework. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

10-3-2013

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Aung San Suu Kyi was selected Sunday to remain head of Myanmar’s main opposition party, keeping her leadership post even as the party undergoes a makeover to adjust to the country’s new democratic framework.

The Nobel laureate was named chairwoman of the National League for Democracy’s new executive board on the final day of a landmark three-day party congress attended by 894 delegates from around the country.

The congress also expanded the group’s Central Executive Committee from seven members to 15, in a revitalization and reform effort ahead of Myanmar’s 2015 general election. The party is seeking to infuse its ranks with new faces, expertise and diversity without sidelining long-standing members.

“We have to see how effectively and efficiently the new leaders can perform their duties,” said Suu Kyi, who has led the NLD since its inception in 1988. “We hope they will learn through experience.”

Suu Kyi is the sole holdover from the party’s original executive board when it was founded, but the other new members are also mostly long-serving party loyalists. A broader Central Committee of 120 members was elected by the delegates and endorsed the executive board, which was given five reserve members.

The party, which came into being as the army was crushing a mass pro-democracy uprising in 1988, won a 1990 general election that was nullified by the then-ruling military. The NLD boycotted a 2010 general election, but after a military-backed elected government took office in 2011 and instituted democratic reforms, it contested by-elections in 2012, winning 43 of 44 seats and putting Suu Kyi into parliament.

Emerging from repression that limited its actions — not least because Suu Kyi and other senior NLD members spent years under detention — Suu Kyi vowed in her opening speech Saturday to inject the party with “new blood” and decentralize decision-making.

She said the NLD would go through an experimental stage with the new leadership and should anticipate some obstacles but “not be discouraged.”

Although the 2012 by-election results showed that the NLD still has broad and deep appeal, the party faces challenges.

The army-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party of President Thein Sein, besides being well-financed and enjoying the benefits of controlling the bureaucracy, has staked out a position as reformist.

It can boast of freeing the press, releasing most of the country’s political prisoners and convincing foreign nations to lift most economic sanctions they had imposed against the former military regime for its poor human rights record. It hopes that opening up Myanmar, also known as Burma, to foreign investment will kick-start a moribund economy and win it popular appeal.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the NLD’s agreement to play by parliamentary rules — in effect endorsing Thein Sein’s reform efforts — leaves an opening for more hard-core anti-military activists to win over a share of disaffected voters who prefer a quicker pace of change than now allowed under the army-dictated constitution.

Speaking to the party meeting after her selection as chairman on Sunday, Suu Kyi said that in choosing executive board members there was an effort to include women, members of ethnic minorities and younger people, in addition to members with a record of continuous party service. Four women and several ethnic minority members are on the new board.

Suu Kyi acknowledged to reporters that younger members were underrepresented on the Central Executive Committee compared to the bigger Central Committee.

“We need experienced members who know the policies, tradition and history of the party and who had been in the party for the last 25 years,” said Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest. “After some time, the younger generation will take over their place. There should be connectivity between the past, present and future.”

Suu Kyi’s colleagues expressed satisfaction with the meeting’s results.

“The new CEC and Central Committee members will enjoy the trust of the majority because we are elected democratically. I believe we will be able to carry out our work more effectively,” May Win Myint, a veteran NLD member jailed many times for her activities, said after being elected to the executive board.

Kyi Phyu Shin, a well-known film director who became an NLD member six months ago and was elected to the Central Committee, said she was “very confident that the NLD will become a tight organization, very active and competitive. The congress helps institute better democratic practices in the NLD.”

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Myanmar opposition holds first party congress

NLD congress8-3-2013 YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Nearly 900 representatives from Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party gathered Friday in Myanmar’s main city to elect their leadership for the first time in the group’s 25-year history.

It is a sign of how far Myanmar has come with political reforms that the gathering, which runs through Sunday in Yangon, is allowed at all. It’s also a test for the National League for Democracy, which is working to transform itself from a party of one into a structurally viable political opposition in time for national elections in 2015.

NLD officials hope the first all-party congress will make the structure and operations of the party more reflective of its democratic ideals and infuse its aging ranks with youth, diversity and new expertise.

“Our party must be renewed and reformed,” said Tin Oo, 86, who helped found the NLD and is overseeing the organization of the all-party congress. “We are going to advocate for democracy, so our party must be based on democratization.”

Forged under authoritarian rule, the NLD has been, in some ways, a mirror image of the country’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. Unable to convene party meetings, with its leaders often jailed and the party itself officially banned for much of its existence, the NLD could not hold elections. Leaders had to be appointed. Secret and summary decisions had to be made. And in the unforgiving narrative of repression which has long governed Myanmar there were heroes who were not to be questioned any more than the villains they fought.

“Our party was a democratic party and the party was run by people not elected but selected; individuals like myself and Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Win Tin, 83, a journalist and one of the NLD’s three surviving founders.

In November 1988, within two months of the NLD’s founding, the party’s top leadership began planning an all-party congress to elect local and national level leaders, but was only able to hold a few township elections.

“Then all of us were sent to jail and kept there for a long time,” said Win Tin.

On Friday morning, representatives from across the country stood in neat lines outside the Taw Win restaurant, waiting to be screened for entry. Above them a row of red NLD party flags, decorated with yellow fighting peacocks, fluttered in the early light. The mood was ebullient and hopeful, as people greeted old friends and colleagues.

“I am very excited to be here,” said Nan, a 46-year old from a ruby-rich area of the northern Mandalay region, who goes by one name. “This is a step in the right direction and we hope to see the NLD transforming into a more democratic structure, in line with the changes taking place in the country.”

In addition to electing leadership committees and a party chairman at the congress, the party aims to decide on a coherent policy platform this weekend. Win Tin hopes a new, younger generation of leaders who better reflect the country’s ethnic diversity will emerge.

“At least we will have picked some people capable of leadership,” he said. “We hope. We don’t know yet.”

The structure of democracy is one thing, its culture another. Most members of the NLD, like the people of Myanmar itself, understand the contours of democracy only through its absence. This lack of a developed political culture, some party members say, contributed to infighting and irregularities that marred some of the more than 17,000 local elections the party has convened since mid-2012 in preparation for the congress.

The years of repression and Suu Kyi’s unique, iconic stature — she is greeted by villagers with cries of “Long live mother!” — have also centralized decision-making, which critics say is bad for the broader project of democracy in the country and could weaken the NLD in upcoming elections.

“All the party decisions are dependent on just Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and became a burden to her,” said Yan Myo Thein, a 43-year-old former student activist and political analyst, who is not a member of the NLD. “The decisions are made only by one person and this is bad for the future of the country and the country’s reforms. If the party goes on like this, the support of the people on NLD will waver.”

These days, the tables outside the NLD’s Yangon headquarters are littered with the junk of celebrity. There are Aung San Suu Kyi mugs, key chains, postcards, posters, photos, pins, fans and even a few corporate day planners. All are for sale.

Inside, the tight, two-story space is plastered with her image — ever beautiful and poised — and that of her father, General Aung San, who is regarded as the founder of independent Myanmar.

One could be forgiven for mistaking the place a shrine, except for the general dishevelment and buzz of activity.

Some argue that the NLD needs a single, strong leader in order to tackle their formidable opponents from the ruling USDP party — men who come from the military and understand the power of hierarchy and loyalty — but others fear that the party is not currently strong enough to survive without Suu Kyi.

Phyu Phyu Thin, an HIV activist and an NLD parliamentarian, doesn’t want to speculate on a future without her.

“We pray for her good health,” she said.

UN chief hails Myanmar’s announcement of truce in Kachin

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday welcomed Myanmar government’s announcement about a ceasefire in Kachin and called on both sides to “make serious efforts to create conditions for sustainable peace” in the region.

Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesman that he has been following the various reports from the ground on the implementation of the ceasefire.

Myanmar government announced Friday unilateral ceasefire with the ethnic Kachin Independence Army (KIA), saying that the government troops will stop military offensive against the area of Lakyayan starting Jan. 19 at 06:00 a.m. (local time), according to a press release of the government aired by the state TV at night.

The unilateral ceasefire was offered as security with the government force members as well as with the Myitgyina-Bahmo highway have been in place, said the release.

Ban “calls upon both sides to make serious effort to create conditions for sustained peace in Kachin through enhanced confidence building measures and political dialogue,” the statement said.

“He also calls for renewed access to vulnerable civilian populations in the area to enable the supply of humanitarian assistance to them,” the statement said.

Armed conflicts between the government troops and the KIA escalated since the beginning of this year.

The government claimed that it has negotiated with the KIA for 11 times and the last talks took place in vain on Oct. 30, 2012 with the absence of military leaders from the KIA side to discuss important issues.

The government said that after the failure of the last peace talks, the KIA stepped up attacks on government forces which in return launched air strike against the KIA in the beginning of this year at point-771 hill.

According to official death toll, 35 government troops were killed with 190 others injured in an ambush by the KIA when the government troops sent food supplies to the area of Lajayan outpost.

Film reveals the personal cost of Aung San Suu Kyi’s political choice

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has drastically changed the political landscape of the country. Photograph: Reuters

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has drastically changed the political landscape of the country. Photograph: Reuters

8-01-2013 Phnompenhpost
When Mynamar opposition activist Aung San Suu Kyi made the choice to stay under house arrest in 1989 rather than return to her family in Oxford, she made a personal sacrifice that would leave a legacy of pain within her personal life.

This is the intimate insight given by Aung San Suu Kyi: The Choice, the 2012 documentary about the dissident leader shown last night at Meta House.

Directed by German Mark Eberle and Angus McQueen from England, the film offers a rare glimpse into Suu Kyi’s personal life — and an unflinching assessment of the 21 years of consequences of her lonely choice.

The daughter of General Aung San, the man who brought independence to Myanmar in 1947, Suu Kyi studied at Oxford in the 1960s. There, she married Englishman Dr Michael Aris and had two sons.

When her mother suffered a heart attack in 1988, she was called back to Myanmar, a trip that coincided with demonstrations for democracy in Yangon. As her father’s daughter, she became the prominent figure and face of the movement.

She remained in the country and was detained as a political prisoner in 1989, after rejecting an offer by the military junta to leave and never come back.

It is at that point — when Suu Kyi chooses to stay — that Eberle and McQueen pick up the story. Through a series of interviews conducted in 2011, including one with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who praises Suu Kyi move into politics, the film-makers compile an intimate portrait of the housewife who became a national leader.

The beginning of Suu Kyi’s political activism meant a diminishing role in the lives of her children and husband.

In an extended interview, she admits her sadness, but says she doesn’t regret the decision. The emotional turmoil it caused her children, however, is evident.

In one scene from 1995, Suu Kyi is reunited with her sons. A press photographer arranges the shot: Suu Kyi hugging her son Kim and patting his head. Once it is taken, Kim flees the scene.

In an interview for The Choice in 2011, he is a different man. In his early 30s, divorced with two children of his own, he says his father did not get enough credit for raising him and his brother Alexander while their mother was away. Overwhelmed with emotion, he leaves the scene.

Kim visited his mother in Yangon in 2011. A video shot at the airport shows him urging his mother to travel and spend time with him, in front of many cameras. “Mummy… you have no excuses,” he says.

According to Eberle, the other son lives in a religious community in Chicago and doesn’t visit his mother, though he is said to phone her regularly.

Family friend and Tibetan scholar Dr Peter Carey Oxford, interviewed for the film, goes so far as to attribute the death of their father in part to the hardships he endured while separated from Suu Kyi.

Aris died from cancer in 1999. Suu Kyi didn’t come to his sick bed or his funeral – a decision he supported. If she had left the country, she could never have returned.

Political leaders tend to shy away from justifying what they do on a personal level. After all that they accomplish on the global stage, it seems irrelevant.

In The Choice, Eberle and McQueen do a remarkable job of dismantling the shroud.

What is left is a woman with a dilemma – and a family changed by the pain her choice has left behind.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julius Thiemann at ppp.lifestyle@gmail.com

Written by Kham

10/01/2013 at 12:09 am

Suu Kyi vows to solve Myanmar copper row under rule of law

YANGON, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) — Aung San Suu Kyi said Thursday that the dispute over Letpadaungtaung copper mining project in Monywa in northwestern Myanmar will be solved under the rule of law.

Suu Kyi, chairperson of investigation commission into the dispute, told a press conference at the Yangon Region parliament building that the commission will put forward recommendation which are based on the truth and in long-term interest of the nation and people.

She said that the mutual understanding is needed for best solution.

The commission will hold press briefing and release information on its findings, she added.

The members of the commission will be divided into three groups to investigate whether the copper mining project adheres to international norms and takes appropriate measures for environmental conservation, the impact of the copper mining project on social and natural environment and whether the copper mining project benefits the country, the people and future generations.

The project is being developed by a joint venture between Myanmar and Chinese companies in accordance with Myanmar’s Foreign Investment Law.

Written by Kham

06/12/2012 at 9:16 pm

Myanmar vows to fight corruption effectively

YANGON, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — The Myanmar government Friday vowed to fight corruption effectively, warning that corruption is an unacceptable and unpardonable misconduct in building a disciplined democratic nation and affects the dignity of the nation and the people.

In a statement on anti-corruption issued on Friday, the Home Ministry said the government is rewriting a new bill to replace the existing Suppression of Corruption Act 1948 to meet the demand of the present time and international norms.

The statement invites citizens to openly complain about bribery cases to the Bureau of Special Investigation and the Head Office of the Home Ministry.

The statement pointed out that the culture of demanding for bribes in the form of cash gifts still exists in the government departments and private enterprises as well as in interaction between government staff and departments.

It called for public participation in the elimination of bribery and corruption to ensure good governance and clean government.

Written by Kham

30/11/2012 at 8:18 pm

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in India

NEW DELHI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) — Myanmar opposition leader and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi Tuesday arrived in India on a tour of this country.

Suu Kyi, who was educated in India, arrived in the national capital from Myanmar and was received by Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. She is slated to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday as well as Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and other top Ministers and government officials during her trip, sources said.

She will also visit the Indian Parliament, the sources added.

The 67-year-old Myanmar opposition leader, who spent the last decade under house arrest, will also visit her alma mater — Lady Sri Ram College — where she will deliver a lecture, during her tour in India. Suu Kyi graduated from the college, affiliated to Delhi University, in the 1960s when her mother was the ambassador to India.

This is Suu Kyi’s first visit to India in 40 years.

Written by Kham

14/11/2012 at 8:24 pm