Subject: NCGUB's East Timor trip and plans on transition
NCGUB's East Timor trip and plans on transition
by Ko Wild
Friday, 10 April 2009 20:06
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) delegation led by Prime Minister Dr. Sein Win recently visited East Timor as part of its political trip. The NCGUB is giving finishing touches to its transitional plan.
The visit was at the invitation of a sovereign government and they met President Jose Ramos Horta on March 30 and Prime Minister Zarnana Gusmao on April 1.
The goal of the trip was to lobby for democratic transition in Burma including opening of a NCGUB office in East Timor, Foreign Minister U Bo Hla Tint told Mizzima.
Mizzima reporter Ko Wild interviewed him on East Timor's policy towards Burma and NCGUB's plans on transition.
The NCGUB discussed opening of an office in East Timor. Tell us about it.
Discussions on opening an office were just one of the issues on the agenda. We discussed mainly political affairs for an inclusive political process before 2010 and as a whole political movement. The cooperation of all neighbouring countries is essential and crucial for the emergence of all inclusive political process and programme that we are striving for. We met them based on this agenda. So opening of our office in East Timor is just one of these agendas. We had mutual agreement with them in this regard too.
What will be the benefits of opening an office in East Timor?
If this plan of opening an office materializes, East Timor will be the first country which explicitly supports our democracy movement and recognize our government in exile. Recognition of our government in exile, giving permission to open our office and having an agreement directly with the sovereign government are good trends and good prospects for us. It will be good for the long term interest of our movement, in politics. Another point is East Timor is a new country with a bright future with prospect for development. So in the long term, it will be our long term regional base.
Since the time of Zarnana Gusmao, invitation has been extended to you for opening an NCGUB office. Why did you discuss it now after such a long delay?
Previously the domestic situation East Timor was not stable. So we didn't want to bother them with our affairs when they were facing instability in their domestic affairs. Now the situation in East Timor has improved and become more stable. We met President Jose Ramos during his visit to UN recently. After that he willingly discussed this matter with us.
After meeting Mr. Ramos during his visit to the UN, did he first invite you to East Timor?
Yes. Exiled 'Member of Parliament Union' (MPU) Chairman U Teddy Buri went there last month. During this visit, he discussed with the President. Then we met him again in Washington recently. As a result of these meetings and deliberations, we visited East Timor.
Did they give their opinion on the 2010 general election in Burma?
Their opinion is the same as our movement. They do not think holding election in this way would lead to national reconciliation, democracy and stability in Burma. They agreed with us on releasing political prisoners, engaging in dialogue, reviewing the constitution and adopting the widely accepted political process, is the best way for our country.
East Timor will soon become a member of ASEAN in 2012. And also it said that sanctions imposed against Burma didn't work. So there will be one more anti-sanction country in ASEAN. How does NCGUB view this?
Firstly we called for only targeted sanction. We demanded sanction as a tool, as a pressure mechanism against the junta pushing them to the dialogue table. Comprehensive and effective sanctions can be expected only in the UN sanction. In the Burma context, there was only one country. The US imposed serious sanction before 2007. The EU imposed political sanctions on their part. Even after 2007, though some countries such as Australia and Canada joined the sanction movement. It is not yet the UN sanction.
But as for our country, we believe the sanction worked and is effective. Because the Prime Minister Gen. Thein Sein recently expressed that they wanted the sanctions llifted. Moreover they have spent millions of dollars on anti-sanction lobbying in the US for many years. They don't need to spend such resources if the sanction did not hurt them.
So our position on sanctions is maintaining its as a tool as long as concrete and tangible results towards development of democracy and human rights are not felt. This is our official position.
There is news being circulated that Mr. Ramos might act as a facilitator for dialogue between SPDC and NCGUB. Please elaborate about this.
This is not true. We are just a group comprised of exile MPs working for creation of international and domestic alignments and positions in engaging in dialogue. By dialogue we mean tripartite dialogue among the junta, pro-democracy forces led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and genuine ethnic representatives. We don't mean ourselves.
Please tell us about the transitional plan being drafted by NCGUB.
The basis of this plan is preparation for an all inclusive political process before the 2010 election. There are two aims in this plan. The first aim is to prove to the international community we have our won vision and action plan, strategic action plans which are better than the junta's, not merely by attacking and criticizing the junta's constitution, roadmap, programmes and activities. So we are trying our best in drafting this paper on behalf of the whole movement.
The second aim is to express our belief that what SPDC is doing right now is not nove. The previous military regime governed our country for about 12 years from 1962 to 1974 without a constitution. Only in 1974, they adopted and enacted the one-party dictatorial rule with the 'Burma Socialist Programme Party' (BSPP). The only difference is they are talking of multi-party democracy now. We would like to say the constitution must guarantee ethnic equal rights, fundamental rights of the citizens irrespective of their race, creed and wealth, and distribution of wealth must be fair and equal. Otherwise we cannot accept any constitution.
What is the current stage of drafting this paper? Will you send this paper to SPDC also?
We have finished the draft but it is not yet ready for distribution to all opposition organizations at home and abroad for inviting suggestions from them. We first initiated this draft by pooling in academics and experts. Then we will send it to people at home and abroad. We will also send it to our friendly countries and the international community. Then we will develop this paper with their suggestions.
After the movement gives the nod to this paper, it will be sent to all. It should be known by all as it is designed to create a healthy atmosphere for a tripartite dialogue among SPDC leaders, ethnic leaders and National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It cannot produce a solution if it is agreed only by us. I believe that the SPDC leaders having integrity, benevolence and liberal views should study this paper. The paper will reach them at the right time.
Please tell us about the content of this paper in brief.
We have divided it into six sectors. We believe that there are three major crises in our country. The first is constitutional and political conflicts. The second is socio-economic issues with poverty and economic crisis. The last one is humanitarian crisis especially the worsening situation after Cyclone Nargis struck in 2008. We believe that we need a plan which can resolve all these three crises simultaneously.
So we divided these three crises into six sectors. The first one 'constitutional framework' examines the SPDC adopted constitution and gave our suggestions to improve it which can be widely accepted by our people and the international community. The next one is compilation of academics' suggestions for leading to genuine market economy and economic stability in the transition period. The next one is suggestions on electoral law and regulations.
The fourth point is on relation between civilians and the military. What role the military should play in both transition and in future. The suggestions are also on reforming the military which will be compatible in a democratic system, based on international experiences.
The next topic is you may either call for reconciliation or transitional justice. We gave suggestions on how to correctly and calmly overcome resentments and bitter feelings of the people who sacrificed their lives in transforming our country, during the transition to democracy, preventing them from being taken along to the future of our country.
The last topic is on refugees in foreign countries, a lot of expatriates and diaspora academics and IDP inside the country facing a lot of trouble. We have discussed on how we can rehabilitate them in the best possible way.
We prepared these six sectors in consultation with academics and experts in these fields.