Monday, 18 November 2019

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Suu Kyi campaigns in Dawei

(Mizzima) – Burmese voters got their first real taste of Aung San Suu Kyi the political campaigner on Sunday as thousands of supporters greeted her in Dawei, the site of a huge industrial project planned for southern Burma.

A smiling Aung San Suu Kyi waves to the crowd upon arrival in Dawei, the site of an industrial project that could provide an energy and shipping corridor to Southeast Asian countries.
Thousands gathered along the roads, villages and towns to see the 66-year-old Nobel peace prize winner who spoke sounding like a Western-style politician seeking votes for her party, the National League for Democracy, which will contest all empty seats in the Parliament in the April 1 by-election.

“There are certain laws which are obstacles to the freedom of the people, and we will strive to abolish these laws within the framework of the Parliament,” Suu Kyi said to widely enthusiastic supporters waving NLD flags and wearing T-shirts with Suu Kyi’s picture, according to Reuters news group. She spoke after meeting officials of her NLD party in Dawei.

NLD officials said Suu Kyi will travel to Mandalay to campaign in early February before campaigning for her own seat in a poor, rural constituency on the southern outskirts of Rangoon.

While speaking to the crowd in Dawei, about 380 kilometres south of Rangoon, she outlined what sounded like an NLD campaign agenda. She wants to revise a 2008 army-drafted Constitution that gives the military authority to take control of the country in a state of emergency and to occupy a quarter of the seats in parliament. Observers say that would require support of other opposition parties, but even then it could not be accomplished without support of the ruling party, the government-back Union Solidarity and Development Party.

“We need to amend certain parts of the Constitution,” she said, adding the international community was poised to help Burma with development aid “once we are on an irreversible road to democracy,” Reuters quoted her saying.

Alluding to Burma’s long history of ethnic conflicts, and the fighting that has taken place since June between the government and ethnic Kachins, she said, “Diversity is not something to be afraid of, it can be enjoyed. If there is a person who remains without independence, it means the entire country lacks independence.”

A diplomat who heard her speech, said: “She's becoming more and more explicitly political and talking about the importance of policies,” according to Reuters.

Suu Kyi said the elections must be “free and fair,” and that any government that lies must be removed.

Agence France Press news agency quoted her as telling supporters: “If we move in the right direction our country will have many opportunities. We are eager to seize them.”

The Burmese government plans to build a huge industrial complex in Dawei, which is projected to be energy and shipping corridor that could transform the Southeast Asia region. It is largely funded by neighboring Thailand.

Earlier this month the authorities cancelled plans for a coal-fired power plant in the project because of environmental concerns, a move seen as a victory for local activists and a sign that the government is beginning to listen to the grassroots people.

Suu Kyi was under house arrest for much of the past 20 years, when the NLD won the 1990 election in Burma by a landslide. It was not allowed to take power.

Suu Kyi said the elections must be “free and fair,” and that any government that lies must be removed.

“Will never cheat the people,” she told the crowd. “If we cannot do, we will tell you frankly that we cannot do. And if we can do it, we will do it,” she said at Maungmagan beach near Dawei, according to Reuters. “For the NLD to do its duty, please vote for the NLD.”

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