Suu Kyi’s Calls for Constitutional Reform Welcomed in Irrawaddy Delta

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar, NLD, Myanmar military, Tatmadaw, democracy, reforms

Aung San Suu Kyi is led through a crowd of thousands of excited supporters in Maupin Township on Saturday morning. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

MAUPIN TOWNSHIP — Thousands of residents of the Irrawaddy Delta gave opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi a warm welcome on Saturday as she ramps up a nationwide campaign to garner public support for reforming Burma’s undemocratic Constitution, a message that was well-received by the excited crowd in Maupin Township.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) chairperson told a rally that the Burma Army, also known as the Tatmadaw, should allow for amendments to the charter and obey the will of the people.

“The Tatmadaw should only work for the people… My father did not form the Tatmadaw to work for the interests of one group,” Suu Kyi, said referring to her father Gen. Aung San, Burma’s most important independence leader and a founder of the military shortly after World War II.

“The first [priority] for the Tatmadaw is to respect the wishes of the people,” she said. “There is no need [for the army] to fear having different ideas. We need to negotiate all together. Negotiating to find a solution is how a democratic system works.”

In Maupin, a township located in the Irrawaddy Delta about 3 hours’ drive from Rangoon, several thousand people, most of them farmers, had gathered in Saturday morning for the 2-hour event, which was held in a dry paddy field that offered little protection from the relentless hot season sun.

A festive mood prevailed and many in the crowd wore red- and white-colored clothes—the colors of the NLD—and waved flags with the party’s symbol, the fighting peacock. A young girl took to the stage to sing a song about how Suu Kyi would be the winner of the 2015 elections and Burma’s next president.

Suu Kyi did not speak about the presidency but attacked the Constitution, describing it as undemocratic constraint on the Burmese people. “Having to stay under this Constitution, it is hotter than being in this weather. Therefore, to be able to stay in better shape, our people need to become involved in a movement for amending the Constitution,” she said. “Power should be in the hands of our people and not with a small group.”

The message drew a raucous reaction from the crowd and when asked by Suu Kyi if they would support constitutional reform, nearly all raised their hands in their air.

One woman in the crowd clapped her hands and shouted, “This [speech] means so much to us!

“Oh, she looks so young and pretty still!” she said about Suu Kyi.

Since early 2013 Suu Kyi has been publicly pushing for amending the charter, but the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party has been reluctant to cooperate, while the military has indicated it wants the charter to remain in place. In February, the hugely popular NLD leader announced she was teaming with the respected 88 Generation activists in order to launch a people’s power movement to force constitutional reforms ahead of the 2015 elections.

In recent months she has been addressing rallies urging the Burmese public to support her and together with the 88 Generation leader she plans to hold large rallies in Rangoon and Mandalay next week.

The Constitution was drafted by the military in 2008 and ratified in a flawed referendum held only days after Cyclone Nargis struck. The charter gives the army control over a quarter of Parliament, immunity from crimes committed under the junta regime and blocks Suu Kyi from becoming president because her sons are British nationals.

The charter also stipulates that key amendment can only occur when 75 percent of Parliament supports the changes—a situation that gives the military a de facto veto over the reforms.

5 Responses to Suu Kyi’s Calls for Constitutional Reform Welcomed in Irrawaddy Delta

  1. 2008 Nargis constitution has never been approved by the public. Min Aung Hlaing claims that it was approved by the public. Min Aung Hlaing is a big liar. It was not drafted by the representatives of the people but Than Shwe’s handpicks. There is no way we the people cannot support Suu Kyi to amend this undemocratic constitution. We the people are with Daw Suu in amending the Nargis constitution.

  2. We need free and fair election. Free and fair election includes freedom of campaign. Every candidate must have the right to tell the nation what he/she believes and what he/she will do for the nation. No one must be limited to small township or region. We the people have the right to hear from candidates. At the same time every candidate has the right to tell whoever, whenever and wherever he/she wants to. Choices must be allowed to the citizens. We have been sickened by one-sided propaganda from regime.

  3. “My father did not form the Tatmadaw to work for the interests of one group,” Suu Kyi, said referring to her father Gen. Aung San, Burma’s most important independence leader and a founder of the military shortly after World War II.”

    I like this words but DASSK must keep her promise if she is elected as a president of Burma.
    Priorities are
    (1) Panlong agreement and do for the sake of all Burmese ethnics fairly and squarely. Do not forget the long sufferings of all ethnics because of Panglong agreement, rubbished by Bama Tamadaw. Give the first priorities to all ethnics in educations , health and social service because of 60-years-neglected and abused by Bama Tatmadaw.
    (2) Establish with very Good relationship with neighbor China because DASSK is raised and educated in Western countries. China will be paranoid on DASSK.
    (3) Let all oversea Burmese and oversea illegal workers to come back to permit dual citizens ( to grant citizenship to all Burmese born and their all closed relatives) to build the world most poorest country, Burma effectively and promptly. Never, discriminate, never paranoid oversea Burmese or oversea illegal workers if DASSK wants to build bama effectively and promptly. Oversea Burmese’s children are well educated in oversea and they all are precious to our country, Burma if they come back with their Burmese parents to Burma for settlement. Don’t let to listen fox’s than shwe’s cronies and fox private army who will object this issue to avoid fair business competition.
    (4) If we have no own economy/professionals in Burma with the help of oversea Burmese mainly and firstly, DASSK can do nothing. “No money,no own bilingual Burmese qualified professionals, no talk” to build Bama even you have good proposals/plans.

  4. Why was m comment censored?
    I asked whether a Muslim (for example a Rohingya) who is (or was) not married to a foreigner can become President of Burma?
    Freedom of speech is dead in Burma anyway! Individual opinions like mine will be censored by the Irrawaddy. I’m glad that that young Australian was deported. No place for people like him in the present environment in Burma.

  5. All,
    I respect every individual’s comments. All good points and concerns for the country we have lived or living today.
    Yes, we want the best for the country. But not for one group, party, or person.
    DASSK, who I respect has lost the point. If she wants the best of Burma then why care who is President. If election is held today NLD can win easy. What are the people advantage by changing the constitution at this time? What she is trying to do is her to become President. Is that matter? Burma is not going to be good over night because DASSK is President. It should not be about one person. It should be for the people. Lets win try and win the election then change what is good for the people and country. NOT for one individual.
    I do not know how many of you remember 1988. After many decades of dictator style ruling, Ne Win is afraid to let people have all power. He is afraid like what happened in Egypt. So he gave partial power to Maung Maung who was president for a few weeks. What NLD and DASSK did? They demand total power transfer to interim government.
    Now, Ne Win got so worry and ends up with another military coup.
    Same now, if DASSK or any group too much there will be a coup. Learn from Indonesian, when the country had first election, there was only 20% available for people and 80% is appointment by military. This was about 40 years ago.
    Then slowly they have today 100% elected official, no more appointed personnel.
    Burmese people are lucky to start with 25% appointed congress. They (military) has ruled for almost 50 years, that is half a century. DASSK and all her friends need to understand that military is afraid that if they give all power to people it will haunt them back. So, for the sake of people in Burma, Daw Suu should step back one step and concentrate what is the best for the country, NOT her to become president. If she continue with this route, I think there will be another coup.
    Please read Indian history. Mahatma Gandhi work very hard to get independent from British. After the independent, he just went back to his village, saying that he has done his job and now Indian people need to continue the rest.
    Daw Suu should take that role. Be a national hero like her father or Gandhi. She should do what best for the country and not her to become a president.
    I have lived in USA for more than 30 years. Thanks to Ne Win. In US, president must be born citizen and spouse must also a US born citizen. Remember, this is the country with all freedom you can imagine. Why? It is a national security issue. We must learn from a country like USA. If not sooner or later there will a president in Burma with a spouse Chinese citizen.

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