Archive for November 14th, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Press Review: Aung San Suu Kyi released

1. Russia Today

Footage from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi‘s Home, Russia Today – click on the picture to watch the video.

Still loving Su, Russia Today footage, November 13, 2010

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2. China National Radio (CNR)

CNR, directly or indirectly, quotes from three Chinese sources or papers which covered the run-up to Aung San Suu Kyi’s relase some time before it happened: Xinhua, Southern Metropolis Daily, and Huanqiu Shibao.  The links inserted throughout the translation were no part of the original article in Chinese.

Aung San Suu Kyi was in Prison for 15 of the past 21 Years

[Link to the CNR article] Myanmar’s multi-party nationwide elections began on November 7 at 6.00 hours, and successfully ended at 16.00 hours local time. They were the first multi-party elections in 20 years, they constitute the fifth step on Myanmar’s seven-steps roadmap to democracy, and they are important elections in the implementation of the transformation of military into elected government.

Union Solidarity and Development Party with best Chances to Win

Myanmar has almost 60 million inhabitants, and there are more than 29 million voters [eligible to vote]. According to Myanmar’s Federal Election Commission, there were 40,000 polling stations. At 4.00 p.m., the elections were successfully concluded, and each polling station immediately started counting the votes.

Until yesterday, 23.00 hours, a number of ballots from Rangoon and Taunggyi show the Union Solidarity and Development Party is in the lead at this stage. Officials said that the official election results will be announced in a few days.

According to an earlier announcement by Myanmar’s Federal Election Commission, more than 3,000 candidates nominated by 37 political parties and 82 independent candidates ran for the more than 1,000 seats in Federal Parliament and provincial parliaments. The political party with most candidates is incumbent prime minister Thein Sein’s Union Solidarity and Development Party, with 1,112 candidates for parliamentary seats at all levels. Analysts believe that the party has an advantage in resources from its position in office (巩发党具有执政资源优势), and also has more candidates, and that therefore, there isn’t much uncertainty that it will gain most seats. The Union Solidarity and Development Party’s biggest competitor is the National Unity Party which nominated almost 1,000 candidates for seats on all levels.

Before election day, the election ralleyes weren’t large-scale, and the candidates’ campaigning mainly took place in their respective constituencies. Also, the participating political parties were allowed one or two 15-minutes campaign speeches on radio and television, and the full speeches were published in official newspapers.

President to be elected after 90 Days

The current elections were based on the “Constitution of the Federal Republic of Myanmar”, as passed in the 2008 referendum. Within ninety days after the elections, the parliament will have its first session, a president and vice president will be elected, a government be formed, and the military government will, on this occasion, transfer power to the new government.

The new constitution prescribes that the president will be the head of state and of the government, and serve as the chairman of the national defense and security commission, where the commanders of the services [三军总司令, referring to army, air force, and the navy] are members. (…) The military will continue to have an effect on national politics, as a quarter of the parliament members on all levels will not be elected, but be appointed by the commanders of the services.

The new constitution clearly stipulates that Myanmar’s political system will be a multi-party system, with a market economy as its economic system, that it pursues an independent, active, alliance-free diplomacy, and that it doesn’t allow foreign countries to establish military bases.

— according to Xinhua Newsagency

Personalities
Having missed the Elections, Aung San Suu Kyi may be released

According to the new election law published this year, Aung San Suu Kyi, currently under house arrest, couldn’t take part in the elections. But she will probably be released after the elections.

According to the new election law, published on March 10 this year, political parties established in accordance with the law weren’t allowed to admit persons serving a sentence, religious figures, or members of the civil service.  Thus, still under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi missed the elections. She had announced that she had no plans to cast her vote, and the National League for Democracy led by her also wouldn’t take part in the elections.

At the end of October, Myanmar’s foreign minister U Nyan Win said at a  ASEAN foreign ministers’ dinner that Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest would end on November 13, and that if she didn’t violate the law, she would be released. Earlier rumors had also said that her house arrest period would end by mid-November. Aung San Suu Kyi earlier said through her lawyer that once released, she hoped to set up a Twitter account to stay in touch with internet friends (和网友保持接触).

Aung San Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy to victory in the 1990 elections and could have served as prime minister, but the military government nullified the elections. She refused a deal (交换条件) with the government according to which she would have been expelled from Myanmar and was imprisoned for fifteen out of the past 21 years. *)

— according to Southern Metropolis Daily

Observations
High Military Officials remain central forces in new government

To form a political party and to participate in the elections, the prime minister and several ministers shed their uniforms some months ago and retired from the military and in accordance with Myanmar customs, no longer used the “U” [the foreign minister, for example, who reportedly resigned his military function as major general  during spring this year, wouldn’t be referred to as U Nyan Win any more, but as Nyan Win instead — JR].  For the elections and a smooth transition of power, the Myanmar military conducted the most comprehensive personnel restructurings to date.  The leaders ranking third and fifth in national leadership also resigned their military posts to run in the elections.

But large shares of public opinion believe that with these elections, Myanmar can’t get rid of the military’s influence. As Myanmar’s top leader so far, Tan Shwe, will maintain influence of his own on the country, even though he was no candidate in the elections.

A member of the Myanmar media who didn’t want to be named told this reporter: “Apart from U Thein Sein, two war office leaders [names unknown to me – 明苏 and 金沙, apparently both in the rank of lieutenant general] will be central forces in the new government, and the territorial army’s commander [丁吴] will be U Thein Sein’s strong supporter.” These power-wielding generals aren’t actually “recalcitrant”, as the outside world often imagines. [丁吴] for example publicly suggested on a high-level meeting of the government last year that it would be no harm if 30 to 40 per cent of parliament seats were oppositional (让反对派在议会席位中占30%到40%也无妨). Former Rangoon military district commander and now [unknown name and function — JR] won the support of Myanmar’s business circles as his ways of thought were “really open” (非常开放), acknowledging that Myanmar couldn’t by any means “separate itself from the world” in the future.

“The military’s influence on Myanmar’s society is higher than outsiders from elsewhere can imagine. To put on the uniform is the ideal of many young Burmese, and  such an influence can’t be eliminated within one or two generations”, a local person told this reporter.

The outside world reckons that after the elections, 77-year-old Than Shwe will transfer his military powers to younger generals, but few believe that he will hand over much of the power immediately after the elections. Aung Zaw, the founding editor of a Myanmar paper published in Thailand, The Irrawaddy, says: “I don’t think he’d happily retire. He will try hard to hold on to power. That’s because he is concerned about his own future.” There are analysts who believe that, if the parties supported by the military win, he could serve as state chairman **).

— according to Huanqiu Shibao

History

In 1988, after several months of political turmoil, the Myanmar military takes control of state power and abolishes the constitution in effect at the time

In 1993, the military government convenes a national assembly and starts the process of writing a constitution.

In 2003, the military government advances a seven-point roadmap for national reconciliation and the advancement of democracy, and in 2004, the national assembly, after having been suspended for eight years, is resumed to draft the constitution.

In 2007, the assembly completes its mission.

In 2008, the “Constitution of the Federal Republic of Myanmar” is accepted in a referendum.

Editor in charge [for compiling the China National Radio press review]: Lu Linqiang (路林强)

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3. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)

The Risk in the Release

Nov. 14, 2010 By releasing Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese military government takes a risk. Although the Peace Nobel Prize laureate is “only” a private person who stands for a group which no longer counts as a political party (the National League for Democracy). But that didn’t keep thousands from jubilantly greeting her in front of her home.

And noone will believe that the Lady will now retire to an individual life. She will want to become politically active. Her voice will be heard in a country that for decades has only known times of very harsh and times of less harsh suppression.

The people want change. That will be difficult. But Aung San Suu Kyi’s initial words are evidence of long-sightedness. She called for unity. Anything else would be counter-productive and would probably lead to the democratic oppostion splitting up. In that case, the risk of releasing her would pay  for the generals.

(Peter Sturm, FAZ)

Notes
*) A translation of 遭囚 (zāo qiú) could be to be as unfortunate to be imprisoned, or to endure imprisonment.
**) or “president” – however, the Chinese characters here are 国家主席 (guójiā zhǔxí).

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