Aung San Suu Kyi on Burma’s Sweeping Reforms and Whether She Will Ever Be Its President

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
Jan. 20 2012 8:20 PM

An Interview With Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma’s Nobel laureate muses on the sweeping reforms in her country and whether she will be its president.

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Do you want to be president one day?

I don’t want to be president, but I want to be free to decide whether or not I want to be President of this country.

If you win a majority of the seats in 2015 as you did in 1990, do you think they would let you assume power?

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What we want is to make sure that by 2015 this should not be a question at all. By 2015, we should be certain that whichever party wins the majority in parliament should decide how the government is going to be organized. We have said quite clearly that one of the aims of the NLD is the necessary amendments to the constitution.

We have reregistered our party. I went to register myself as a candidate this morning. We have started campaigning around the country. People have been very enthusiastic. It is very encouraging—all these years and they are still standing solidly behind us.

What about a free press? You don’t have any independent dailies?

There is no real freedom of the press yet. When I was released last year I think we didn’t have half the number of journalists and publications that we have now. Within the last year the number of publications has proliferated.

But they have to submit their stories to a censor.

Yes, the censorship laws have been relaxed considerably. When I was released, I couldn’t publish anything under my name.

Will they get rid of the censor?

They say they will get rid of the censorship or they talk about amending the censorship laws but there shouldn’t be such laws at all.   

Do you have ideas as to how to improve the living standards of the people of this country?

We need to empower the people. One way to empower them is to make them stronger economically. That’s where we would like our friends to help: foreign aid in the right way; development aid that is not frittered away to those who are administering the funds.

Do you favor privatizing the economy?

Yes, but we need sound laws with regard to the economy. We need sound banking and sound investment laws. Only a small minority of our people have anything to do with banks.

What is your view on Arab Spring? Do you think the government in Nay Pyi Taw was influenced by it?

The situation in the Middle East is considerably different. I was heartened that people everywhere want certain basic freedoms, even if they live in a totally different cultural environment.