In Meeting With NLD Cofounder, Wirathu Cautions Against Suu Kyi Presidency

Nationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu is greeted with respect at a monks’ conference in Rangoon in June 2013. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The controversial Buddhist monk U Wirathu, leader of Burma’s ultranationalist 969 movement, has advised the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) to refrain from pushing the presidential candidacy of democracy icon and party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Mandalay-based monk conveyed the message in a meeting with NLD cofounder Win Tin on Saturday in Mandalay, where he said a constitutional provision that currently bars Suu Kyi from presidential eligibility should remain in place, despite his admiration for the long-time democracy campaigner turned parliamentarian.

“Everyone in the country, including me, wants Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to be president. But I am worried about those who are not ethnic people [who identify as one of Burma’s officially recognized ethnicities], such as Chinese and Muslim, will become president in the country if Article 59 is amended,” Wirathu told The Irrawaddy on Monday, saying he feared foreign influence in the nation’s affairs if an ethnic Chinese or Muslim were elected president.

Article 59F of the 2008 Constitution bars from presidential eligibility anyone who marries a foreigner or has children who claim foreign citizenship. Suu Kyi married a British man and has two children who hold British passports.

There is no comparable constitutional provision preventing Muslims who hold Burmese citizenship from running for president, but people in Burma who identify as ethnic Chinese are not considered citizens and thus cannot run for the office.

Win Tin on Monday said that he had dismissed Wirathu’s concerns over the precedent that a Suu Kyi presidency might set.

“I told him that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is not struggling only to be president of the country. She is working for democracy and a genuine federal system in the country,” the NLD cofounder told The Irrawaddy.

Wirathu has courted controversy in recent years with a nationwide campaign that claims Muslims in Burma are threatening the country’s Buddhist majority. Monks promoting the movement have held public sermons urging Burma’s Buddhists to protect their race and religion by boycotting Muslim-owned businesses.

Some of the same monks have in recent months called into question whether Suu Kyi is up to the task of protecting the purportedly besieged Buddhist majority.

Monks have a long tradition of involvement in Burma’s politics, including the religious order’s leading role in anti-government protests in 2007 that were dubbed the Saffron Revolution, in reference to the monks’ colored robes.

Unlike the monks’ political agitations then, the efforts of 969 proselytizers have been condemned by the international human rights community, which has blamed them in part for outbreaks of Buddhist mob violence against Muslim communities in Burma.

Wirathu’s stated position on Monday appears at odds with remarks he made in late November, when he said a Suu Kyi presidency would bring “chaos” because she was “weak at governance.”

Win Tin on Monday said he did not buy into the monk’s ostensible reason for opposing a change to Article 59F.

“I found that he does not want Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to become president. He does not want her to win in the election and he does not want a person who married a foreign citizen to win power,” he said.

Win Tin said he had assured Wirathu that the NLD would not allow “puppet politics” to affect its policy positions and hoped-for governance following elections in 2015.

Win Tin met with Wirathu at the latter’s invitation, in a setting that the NLD leader said added more mixed signals about the monk’s loyalties.

“I found Daw Aung San Suu Kyi photos and messages from her speech, and messages in support of her, which were posted at his monastery when I was there,” Win Tin said.

“He told me that he and his monks have been active in the movement for political change in the country, and that they intended to foster a smooth transition,” Win Tin added.

“I told him that I approved of monks’ participation in the political transition because there is a history of monks involved in politics. But, I told him that it was important that their efforts benefit all the people in the country and not only one group of people.”

15 Responses to In Meeting With NLD Cofounder, Wirathu Cautions Against Suu Kyi Presidency

  1. Why do you continue to give this proto-fascist the oxygen of publicity?

  2. U Wirathu’s political and religious views are warped.
    Lord Buddha was for mankind, not for a particular section of the human race. He had worked for the benefit of all, not for Buddhists alone, or the Burmese or the Buddhist-Burmese.
    There is only one race in the globalized world: it is human.
    U Wirathu, you are impossible, talking for yourself and the like of you, but not for the majority Buddhists in Burma. You are in the dark, while the majority are enlightened in the greater world view, in the light of the cosmic religion of Buddhism.

    • Please teach your idea to those islamist militants who want this world to be under their feet. And yes – the gullible west with their monstrous idea of what Al-Qaeda has been doing and able to do in future, has always supported and trained islamist militants in non-Christian countries. The stand of the west on rohingyanism is not for love of Burma, or Buddhism, it is for a divide and rule policy to destroy Buddhism in Burma because they think this religion is against the west’s horrendous plan to preach christianity as they did in south Korea. the Christian West has no other self interest in Burma than this.

  3. A monk with no faith indeed. A Chinese or an Indian born in myanmar must have the same right if wrath respects the our land. No matter skin color and ethnic background, everyone born in myanmar must have equal rights. If a Chinese born in mmyanmar has better quality than a burmese, a Chinese rather serves our country. Myanmars bbetrayed our union for the past 70 years. Why should we trust the myanmar more than the Chinese or the indians?

  4. Government and the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee have banned Buddhist Monks from involving in politic.
    Why U Wirathu was able to involve in politic without intervention from Government and the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee?

    Does U Wirathu work for Military or Political party?

    During the 8888 uprising, former dictator Ne Win regime and former Spy boss Khin Nyunt had sent many Spy Monks to all over the Burma and they were actively involved in demonstration until Saw Maung lead Military coup. They have knowledge of Buddha literacy as much as Abbot, head of Monastery. I have no doubt about those Spy Monks have entered and passed Buddha literacy exams and exam for qualification for Monastery’ headmaster.

    Sometime I asked myself about U Wirathu situation.
    Is he working for Military or Political Party or former dictator Than Shwe?

    One thing for sure U Wirathu is not ordinary Monk after all. He has all connection and supporting by unknown powerful organization.

    If President U Thein Sein Government has nothing to do with U Wirathu’s work and then Government should warn him about his involvement in religion riot and politic.

    One day, the truth about U Wirathu will reveal by his work.

  5. Monks should not involve in the politic, especially when it come to the freedom of religion. In democratic society everyone is considered as human being regardless of religion, race. If monks want the county to be a democratic society, which is the will of the people, they should follow the Buddha teaching and guide the people to live in harmony.

  6. Not that I support U Wirathu’s stance but I agree that people who married other citizens and have children with other citizenships should not be allowed to be president. Why ASSK is so keen to be president? SHe can help the country in many ways…not just through the presidency…sigh

    • Dear Zaw win oo
      Your mother can help your father in taking care of own children, your siblings at home. Your father has to go out to work for earning because your father’s English and gun fighting skill might be better than your mother in Burma. Although your father knows how to take care of his all children at home, he can not provide breast feeding to his children, like your mother has breasts. In this scenario, your father’s effective earning power is better than those of your mother except without both breasts for feeding children in your father.
      Earning power is most crucial for the world most poorest country, Burma in the present time because Burma economy is same as rebel dominated Somalia one. The poorest Burma is due to both lack of Buddhist identity/teaching from the low-born, originally poor some naive lazy Buddhist monks, like psy wirathu in Mandalay and from the decades of ruling of cruel greedy,unfair opportunistic bama military generals as bama presidents.
      In term of types of job, occupation and work, all are in the same objective for contributing the family and country. In term of more earning per job, your mother, wirathu, U nu, Ne win, Kyin Nyunt, than shwe, thein sein, Shwe mann, ming aung hlaing should not be our president, compared to your father and DASSK. You, yourself should not be president of Burma because of lack of common logical and analytical sense although you can write in English.
      In addition, you do not understand the basic human right ( freedom of love, expression, marriage, sex, food choice). I totally support holding of Burmese citizenship only to be eligible to be president of Burma to avoid the conflict of interest. However, the normal affairs of presidents’ love, marriage, sex and his or her children are own president’s personal matter/life and those are not concerned with wirathu and yourself. Those (normal personal matter/life )are not effect in the conflict of interest in the context of ruling the country, Burma as well. If you learn about the 100% Chinese blood in current Thai president, beautiful Yingluck,(Thai-born), you will realise that all Thai are more civilized than yourself and wirathu because anybody with holding Thai citizenship can be eligible to be president of Thailand by fair democratic election, irrespective of their color, race, ethnicity, blood, marriage, love, sex and their children and husband.
      Do you want to say both wirathu and your blood are sweeter/higher/cleaner than any Chinese, Indian, Muslim born in Burma ?
      Do you want to say your blood is sweeter/ higher / cleaner than those of beautiful Yingluck and smart and well educated color Obama (Kenya born), US president? One said that bama blood/Buddha are related to India.
      Oversea Burmese with holding citizenship are not unfair opportunistic, like bama military generals/wirathu are. Those oversea Burmese are not traitors and betrayers as well and those are escapees from the world most poorest country, Burma to find the green and grass land to learn to speak/struggle foriegn language to get survival and better future. Why do you so hatress and so jealous to the oversea Burmese with holding foriegn citizenship? Do you know all oversea Burmese to maintain to hold Burmese passport validity have to pay double income tax from both countries (Burma and foreign country, except UK) since working in respective oversea countries until last 1 or 2 years previously.
      Poor Burma has very. very high unemployment rate until now. So, do you think working in oversea is sin, criminal or betrayer or traitors or lack of nationalism as your military generals/wirathu are still thinking in that way, like you?
      I am sure unfair opportunistic wirathu can not get donation from oversea Burmese.
      Do you know DASSK have Karen,Chin and Bama blood ( one said) to be the most eligible to be the next president of Burma in the comparison to the blood of your military generals and wirathu? If you want to challenge DASSK in fair competition, do not make use of the aspects of religion, racism and her personal affair ( love, sex, marriage, husband and children) to downgrade DASSK with your all low born knowledge and education. Do not look down all oversea Burmese in term of their nationalism as well as citizenship. Yes, oversea Burmese with holding foriegn citizenship have right to enjoy full education, social and health services respectively in fair return in general from oversea because they have worked and are working for the respective countries with paying full income tax. It is not the case in Burma, ruled by your bama military generals as presidents who discriminates, hates and are jealous to oversea Burmese and returnee like you. However, those military generals, their children and their cronies are rich to enjoy full foriegn education, health and shopping anytime, anywhere and any reasons. Their wives/children can go mostly anywhere, oversea with Burmese passports with easy getting oversea visiting/ student/working visa from their unfair wealth.

      Why are not DASSK’s children and late husband eligible to hold their own citizenship to enjoy their own lives with their own choices in any ways without any use of corrupted/black Burmese money?

      I stress you again that be not jealous all oversea Burmese who are not using corrupted/black Burmese money for their living and enjoying in oversea.

      Do not use one strike to all oversea Burmese with holding foriegn citizenship with one pole in order to beat DASSK. It is laughable at USDP and yourself from your low born thoughts/education.

      Do not kill all local Muslim in order to prevent their rising economy in poor Burma and to pleasing/calming naive Arakanese nationalist activity.

      Do not blame all local Chinese for their buying local lands and properties with over price/value with their black money to make local residents richer and richer to make local economy.

      If you wants to blame, look carefully where the military generals’ black/corrupted money go to anywhere oversea from resources rich ethnics’ lucrative lands, jade, timber and mining (Singapore bank).

      You and USDP will lost more vote if every time you blame on the bad of oversea Burmese citizenship in the aspect of nationalism.

      I will stress you again and again that if there is no honoring the Panglong treaty from bama military generals, Burma in fact has no nationalism you always take pride or be adorable or admirable in your life.

      Unfair opportunistic Bama military generals do not understand the value and meaning of nationalism.

    • Dear Zaw win oo
      DASSK should be next president of Burma because she can speak English, (international language) better than you, than shwe, thein sein, shwe mann and ming aung hlaing. One said DASSK has mixed blood of Karen, Chin and bama. DASSK was graduated from the famous UK university, not from the notorious Defense service academy of Burma. DASSK is democratic hero and sacrifices her life for all Burmese people. If DASSK is sincerely and willing to fulfill her father’s Panglong treaty, DASSK must be the next president of Burma , followed by all ethnics respectively.

  7. To : zaw win oo, if u believe in democracy, why put constraints such as who or who cannot be president? Its people’s choice. Don’t vote for DASSK if u don’t want her to be president.

  8. “All good people agree,
    And all good people say,
    All nice people, like Us, are We
    And every one else is They:
    But if you cross over the sea,
    Instead of over the way,
    You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
    As only a sort of They!”
    ― Rudyard Kipling, Debits and Credits

  9. In worshipping his nationhood U Wirathu worships himself and scorn others, and that is no healthy thing.

  10. Any monk involves in politics is not a monk at the time of the country is running by the own cintizens. If the country is ruled by foreigners is another question. Because every human beings has the right to fight against the colonial rule.

  11. Dear Zaw Min Oo,

    Do not be rascist, peoples has own freedom. Either he or she can marry own choice., that does not concern he or she citizenship. Daw Suu is Myanmar national, that’s good enough. Do you want to become salve of military and cronies? If Daw Suu do not bring freedom and democracy in Burma can you show a leader like Daw Suu’s status? Please require to learn politics.

  12. “In the title i don’t want to call u as reverend ”

    Dear Wirathu ,
    Do u remember of your birth place? I reiterated you as being returnee from where u are coming and if don’t know yourself, ask your ultra -nationalist, now turned- into opportunist, your respected boss Bo Khin Nyunt. And u try to learn the essence n value of “nationalism” word in politics and interfaith religious harmony of Buddha teaching n sermons. You are not a monk. U are one of the military back-bolstered sympathizers under the guise of saffron robe, which is totally antagonizing the teaching of Lord Buddha. Please start endeavoring to remember those of “Four Wadee”in Arakan state lamentations. Poor Wirathu !

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