NLD Patriarch Defends Suu Kyi’s Copper Mine Position

National League for Democracy co-founder Win Tin (Photo: Patrick Boehler / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Opposition figurehead Win Tin has defended Aung San Suu Kyi’s role in the controversial copper mine commission that triggered mass protests last week, saying “this is how leaders should behave.”

Suu Kyi faced hundreds of protesters in the area around the Letpadaung copper mine after a parliamentary commission, which she chaired, said the project should not be canceled despite environmental concerns.

Win Tin, the 82-year-old patriarch of the National League for Democracy (NLD) who spent 19 years as a political prisoner, admitted the dispute was the greatest challenge the party had faced since Suu Kyi was released from detention over two years ago.

“Many people feel she should not have taken this position [on the future of the project], and there are fears that she is absorbing the criticism that should rightly go to the military,” said Win Tin at his home in central Rangoon.

“But there is also admiration for her bravery and courage to face up to big problems like this. This is how leaders should behave.”

Locals remain adamant in their opposition to the copper mine, which is a joint venture between the army-backed Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd and China’s Wenbao Group, a subsidiary of arms manufacturer Norinco.

“She is the only one that can handle this problem. If the military had dealt with this, the problems would have become much deeper.”

Win Tin also spoke about his hopes for the future of the NLD in the wake of last week’s first-ever party congress.

“We have some disputes and problems but overall our elections at grassroots were successful. In the past we were very centralized [as a party], but in the future we have vowed to hold more democratic dialogue,” he said, referring to criticisms that the party is tightly controlled by an aging group of veteran leaders.

He said the party had made efforts to welcome new blood, with eight younger members brought into the Central Executive Committee alongside seven “old hands.”

“Before this congress, we didn’t know what sort of people were coming. There were elections in 15,000 wards and villages across the country and we didn’t know about their education level or political inclination. Some may be quite unfamiliar with political matters, but we have started training and will do it very seriously.”

He also reiterated his concerns over the close relationship Suu Kyi has evolved with the military.

The military “have played this game very well,” he said. “Not because they have softened their ideas, but because they have put themselves in a very strong position with the Constitution. They have people everywhere—in Parliament, in the civil service, in every part of the economy—they rule everything.

“From the beginning I wasn’t happy to work with the military, but Aung San Suu Kyi has a very lenient and generous opinion of military figures. It is not just a tactic, she has been saying this for many years.”


34 Responses to NLD Patriarch Defends Suu Kyi’s Copper Mine Position

  1. Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their dupes,
    but which no democracy can afford among its citizens.

  2. U Win tin is smart and wise to be aware that NLD needs smart and wise advisers to DASSK. I want to listen the view about the Burmese ethnics’ issues from smart and wise U win tin.

    • So you think you are smarter and wiser. Why don’t you run your own political party and tell Burmese people what your party can offer to them? It will be interesting to see whether your offers are smarter and wiser.

      • TSO
        What do you want to say ? Do you want to say that i need to set up a political party thus i have a right to ask the question to smart and wise U win Tin upon the ethnic issue? Do you know your NLD , noble price winner, world icon, DASSK is kept silent about the decade long events of killing, raping , displacing , robbing all ethnics by bama military thugs now and then for rubbish reasons? I do not believe oxford graduate, DASSK has no knowledge about those issues , particularly Panglong agreement. I do not believe that smart ,wise and out spoken U win tin has no opinion on those issues if U win tin is DASSK’s adviser. I respect U win tin upon his smart , wise and outspoken manner mostly. i hope U win tin has right to express his own individual opinion on those ethnic issues if D su is busy. Is U win tin is bama or ethnics ? I know he is former political prisoner for all Burmese people or for bama only.
        Australian PM, Julia Gillard is now repeatedly making apology on ethnic Aborigines from the history of ill-treatment of British descent Australian in her speech today in term of ethical and moral responsibility. In her nation wide speech, she said “I sincerely apology for those happening on Aborigines in one third of her speech content”. All Australian ( white, non-white ) are clapping their fingers sincerely, loudly and repeatedly for every apology from Lady PM who is not a noble price winner. Do you want to say anymore, present Australian are racist, unethical and immoral? Can i say NLD is sleeping , nagging , denying , being ignorance or else on those all ethnic issues? If NLD is very busy for this important issue, can you say what is your opinion on those ethnics’ issue from your own political party. You must know that i might have one vote to the political party i like in 2015 although i have no own political party. Please, name your own smart and wise political party for my avoidance to vote yours because your party forgets about the all ethnics’ suffering as it is a historical crime from yours.

  3. Sayar U Win Tin,
    I fully agree with you.
    Cheers!!!

  4. Of course the Lepadaung copper mine project must go ahead.
    The prospecting was done since 1940’s when the British were in control.
    The feasibility of the project was good for the country.
    This is progress and why would anyone want to stop that.
    this is just to thwart whatever the Government is doing.
    Not good at all.
    DASSK has got the foresight to see what’s behind it all.
    Come on be pure and sincere in your intentions.

  5. Too close for comfort. Their authoritarian and paternalistic attitude rubbing off on her, or is it the other way round? Hard to tell.

    Winners and losers? No question Wanbao and Oobaing are loving it.
    And the stock answer of politicians in this kind of situation? You have to make difficult decisions and take unpopular measures sometimes. Well, so long as it’s not in my backyard (NIMBY) they say.

    Looks like our U Win Tin has been leaned on by the party hierarchy.

  6. I absolutely agree with uncle U Win Tin.This is the way how the gratest leader behaved.People (Burmese) need to think which is right and wrong.shouldn’t think about just own self and think with own brainstrom and consequences.I always believe on Daw Aung san Su Kyi without hesitation.She will never herm you and she is the one whose sacrifice for the rest of Burmese people.In order to happen the real goal(Democracy)and hope of the country’s journey (Transition) was started without any bloodshed. It was achieved by compromising between Daw Aung San Su Kyi and NLD including You.But burmese people need to think , it’s only just the beginning and long way to go.But we are glad that it is on right path right track.I realised that our Burmese people need to refreshd our self as each and every one contribute to build our Nation.Thanks for your contribute to Country as NLD mentor.Wish you all the best and long life NLD all the members.

  7. Long live U Win Tin, you are the man! It’s the way to go. Sometimes we as a whole, are greedy. We are full of prejudices, preferences and blind spots. Those bad elements are the setbacks for our reform processes. Thanks for standing up for the truth. May N.L.D rule and lead.

  8. “The future depends on what we do in the present”…by Mahatma Gandhi.

  9. Then! The history will remember the people from Letpadaung were wrong when they protested agianst Wanbao and UMEHL, right?

  10. Ko Win Tin,
    much appreciate if NLD can spell out policy – is it to be State Enterprises/JV with Private Investors OR no involvement of the State in any Business Enterprise.

  11. U Win Tin is very smart ,wise and honest advisor for Democratic
    Leader Aung s San Su Kyi

  12. U Win Tin is very smart,wise an honest advisor for our Democratic Leader Aung San Su Kyi.

  13. Leader need more educate people & upgrade their life so they may know & catch it easy .

  14. U Win Tin told to a monk last Monday morning (18-March) on the RFA ‘TALKING WITH U WIN TIN” program that “COPPER MINE PROJECT should halt at least for sometimes” and infact it should be ceased totally.
    It is an apparent contradiction and I am afraid he really remembers what he has said a few days ago.
    It is so confusing and hard to know his attitute as now he is defending the one who encouraged to continue the project and sided with cronies.
    Hopefully he still has a good memory and maintain his good reputation as a fighter for DEMOCRACY .
    Sitting on the fence is not good for a man like U WIN TIN and I am waiting for his reply.

    • He sometimes forgets his own name. Forgive him. He sometimes says DEMOCRAZY instead of DEMOCRACY.

    • I agree with Maung Min Nway. U Win Tin is inconsistent. Previously, he commented that Daw Su is too keen on national reconciliation with the army and indicated that Daw Su ‘s decision on copper mine was not so effective. Now, he has changed his tone and try to brown nose his boss Daw Su to enusre he will not be kicked out of the NLD. I think he was repremanded by Daw su for his comment. He also said the nobody dare to say anything in front to Daw Su.
      U Win Tin is too old now.

  15. It seems to be that he could not guide ASSK .Instead , he was guided by ASSK.
    What a waste for our nation , If talented and sincere patriotic was downgraded and used by an opportunist.

  16. Australian lady PM apologized to the ethnic Aborigines for the ill-treatments of their British descendants. NLD or ASSK has not ill-treated ethnic minority. By trying to compare apples and pears, now I can see you are very wise and smart.
    Next move, I can see you are going to argue “silence is worse than ill-treatments”. Man, you are making yourself very unhappy.
    ASSK had voiced out for the atrocities on the ethnics. Not fair for you to say “now and then”. “Now “is the time for reconciliation. I am not saying it is OK if she does not want to involve, I am just saying whosoever want her involvement in their issues should come clean too.
    Let me ask you this, do you think some very stubborn ethnic leaders will ever want to make an honest relationship with ASSK or worse NLD? The answer is ”NO”. Some leaders can be very stubborn and old-fashioned like Burmese military juntas and they won’t even care about splitting up with their own kind if they cannot agree.
    I haven’t formed my political party yet, but I will let you know if I do. Therefore, I can only give you my individual view on the ethnic issues. There is no easy way to sort out when people lead their own destiny but they don’t care others or too suspicious to go out and strike a deal with others. Maintaining communication with ASSK or NLD, their own split groups, other ethnic leaders, their own people or the current government (even I never think they are legally elected) is very important to prevent further misunderstanding and reconciliation. Only two people usually involve in a marriage, but it is very difficult to rebuild the relationship back if they ever break up.

  17. Australian lady PM apologized to the ethnic Aborigines for the ill-treatments of their British descendants. NLD or ASSK has not ill-treated ethnic minority. By trying to compare apples and pears, now I can see you are very wise and smart.
    Next move, I can see you are going to argue “silence is worse than ill-treatments”. Man, you are making yourself very unhappy.
    ASSK had voiced out for the atrocities on the ethnics. Not fair for you to say “now and then”. “Now “is the time for reconciliation. I am not saying it is OK if she does not want to involve, I am just saying whosoever want her involvement in their issues should come clean too.
    Let me ask you this, do you think some very stubborn ethnic leaders will ever want to make an honest relationship with ASSK or worse NLD? The answer is ”NO”. Some leaders can be very stubborn and old-fashioned like Burmese military juntas and they won’t even care about splitting up with their own kind if they cannot agree.
    I haven’t formed my political party yet, but I will let you know if I do. Therefore, I can only give you my individual view on the ethnic issues. There is no easy way to sort out when people lead their own destiny but they don’t care others or too suspicious to go out and strike a deal with others. Maintaining communication with ASSK or NLD, their own split groups, other ethnic leaders, their own people or the current government (even I never think they are legally elected) is very important to prevent further misunderstanding and reconciliation. Only two people usually involve in a marriage, but it is very difficult to rebuild the relationship back if they ever break up.

    • I do not say and do not know whether NLD or DASSK has ill-treatment to others or not. I do not say NLD or DASSK burn and burnt the monks in Burma but DASSK was and is involved in this issue enthusiastically and seriously from now then. Why she can not or should not be involved in the all ethnics’ issues ? Do you think all ethnics issues are not crucial or are not important now in the civilized (smart and wise) century?. It is so called “ double standard” in dealing with the matter what NLD or DASSK like. It is the difference between pear and apple now ( Aus MP has no manner of double standard in dealing with country affair) . If you do not agree with me ,do you want to say that Aust PM is lower standard than NLD or DASSK because Aus MP is not holder of noble price as well as being not smart and wise enough particularly in fighting peace and democracy. At least , Aus MP is lawyer.
      I want to say that noble price winner, famous Burmese icon, holder of the people elected post in the parliament for political and future Burmese president , daughter of G Aung san-designed Panglong agreement should give( duty of care and responsibility ) opinion on the ethnics issues instead of necessary for me to ask smart and wise U win tin to answer the question , regarding to ethnics issues. Australian MP has duty of responsibility to express her apology although her Labor party did not and does not wrong doing on those Aboriginal as well as forced adoption issue which happened in the past from the British descent Australian. I am now talking about the moral and ethical responsibility as a politician or as a great Burmese oppositional political party leader ( smart and wise).
      TSO wrote “ASSK had voiced out for the atrocities on the ethnics.” I want to ask you that who did and is doing atrocities on whom? Do you want to say “DASSK had voice that kachin did and are doing atrocities on bama military thugs and Bama in Kachin land?
      TSO wrote ”. “Now “is the time for reconciliation. Before I agree with you , do you know that than shwe asked and is asking Kachin to lay down their weapon under his control from his rubbish bama military made constitution or than shwe will or now is attacking Kachin ? Do you know spy Khin nyunt made agreement with Kachin ceasefire under the rule of Than shwe’s agreement ? Do you want to say that General Aung san’s Panglong agreement is rubbish so Monks killer than shwe has a right to set up bama military favoring constitution to break Khin nyunt’s faked agreement with kachin? If you say, Panglong agreement is rubbish , I have nothing to argue with you any more but I am pity on General Aung san who become a rubbish from your smart and wise political party.
      If you agree that Panglong agreement is legal one and you are willing to honor it, bama military thugs should or must withdraw from Kachin land and go back to Nay Pyi daw. That is the only simple and easy solution to get peace or reconciliation. Do not accuse of Kachin or all ethnics that they are stubborn. All ethnics are fighting for their rights ( autonomy and equality –offered in Panglong agreement). All ethnics are smart and wise from my point of view.
      TSO wrote “I haven’t formed my political party yet, but I will let you know if I do.”
      My view to you. Before you form political party in Burma , please, study and learn the Panglong agreement ( legal document ) ahead before you becoming the smart and wise leader. If you can not give the opinion on Panglong agreement ( legal one), I will not vote you because you will continue to invade or rob ethnic lands and resources to become a criminal against humanity ( war crime).
      TSO wrote “Only two people usually involve in a marriage, but it is very difficult to rebuild the relationship back if they ever break up.”
      It is the matter of family issue but all ethnics issues are the matter of the world most poorest nation, Burma now and then. In common sense or in general , the matter between ( marriage )husband and wife have their own concerns or decision in terms of love, sex, financial , life style , their under age children and different opinions on their social, occupational , educational issues. You can not ask the police or NLD or DASSK to take action that your wife refuses your sex demand from now and then. DASSK will refer social worker for you upon her duty of care or responsibility if DASSK is enough smart and wise. Some husbands and wives accept that there is a “seven years itch”. In that case, I understand that DASSK can or should or must keep silent.
      TSO wrote “but it is very difficult to rebuild the relationship back if they ever break up.”
      Why are you so pessimistic about the all ethnics’ issues ? You are making yourself unhappy and depressive. I will tell you U win tin or Min Ko naing can do something for us if DASSK keeps silent because of her smart and wise political maneuver. Just honoring the Panglong agreement ( legal) sincerely can rebuild the unification or union. It makes the real and true peace in Burma, for the another noble price for min ko naing or U win tin.

      • TSO
        I hope that outspoken, wise and smart U win tin will give opinion on the seven years’ itch as well as all ethnics issues if U win tin is happy and not depressed and not upset.

      • You said, “Do you know spy Khin nyunt made agreement with Kachin ceasefire under the rule of Than shwe’s agreement ? “.

        Did Kachin leader signed the ceasefire agreement at gunpoint? Really? Don’t put the blame on ASSK if you don’t have a clean point. Kachin dishonoured Panlaund agreement themselves. Although there are many split ideas in Karen group, with some of them hold very old-fashioned ideas, you could respect them for their desire of autonomy and their long and consistent political standing.

        I am in support of the autonomy of the minority ethnics because I believe human being naturally love him/herself most, therefore, I have no doubt the same ethnic group will do better thing for their own kind. But that doesn’t mean they have to ignore diplomacy relationship with others either, especially with their own neighbors.

        You must be daydreaming if you think ASSK has to bring all your wishes on a silver plate. Both husband and wife have to put efforts to maintain the marriage is the basic example for a wider scope of politics.

      • Yes, Norma is right. It seems there is no country leader ever been honest to ethnic people of Burma. This country will never have peace if they do not honor Panlong treaty which made Burma free from the British. Ethnic people have been betrayed by Bahma majority. It is time for Daw Su to be fair to all ethnic people to honour her father.

  18. TSO
    From my recall, DASSK said she had and has no power to say upon the all ethnics issue which means she has no military power- my understanding. DASSK indirectly keeps silent again. The issue is not on “the no power to say”.
    For this words of DASSK, i already cheered on her wise or smart or some thing else-i hope good one. However, DASSK still keeps silent what her second panglong agreement is. In this regards, i just ask my respected U win tin about all ethnics issues from his individual opinion. However, you are not in the right track to understand me. Be optimistic, Man.

  19. I absolutely agree with U Wintin’s. But we must learn how the military regime was totaly bad. This is for the future of our country. We must help Daw Aungsansukyi and Prsdnt.Theinsein becos we hev noe the pasts, they hev tried their best.This is a big trap for Daw Aungsansuukyi as well for Prsdnt Theinsein. The fucken-blood hunter Thanshwe and his dogs had done everithing by power/force without negotiating the people. The best remedy for crisis is compensation for the down-trodden farmers.

  20. I sincerely think that we as Burmese should no longer address or honor NLD as Opposition party to the government. NLD takes the same stand with other political party like USDP, NUP and many other political partys. NLD party nor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi no longer deserve such an honorable notation in front of their names. They all now work for the new gov of Burma. To be morally and political correct, we should address them as simple as NLD party or MP Daw Aung San Suu Kyi…. Not “Opposition Leader or what so ever! Food for thought :)

    • I agree with Salai. NLD party is no longer Opposition party. They have stopped opposing to win the next election, but they will not make it. In 2015, Daw Su will despair and regret for co-operating with the army too much. Remember my word, Daw Suu will never become a president. If she becomes the president, she must have confidentially agreed to work for the wish of the army.

  21. After reading U Win Tin’s ?interview, I want to stress on two points which came into my mind. Firstly, he was defending and justifying ASSK’s gradual drift towards the military camp, if unconvincingly ( “Many people feel she should not have taken this position ….. absorbing the criticism that should rightly go to the military,” “But there is also admiration for her bravery….. This is how leaders should behave.”) . Very confusing! At the same time, he also took care to move himself away from her position ( He also reiterated his concerns over the close relationship Suu Kyi has evolved with the military.“From the beginning I wasn’t happy to work with the military, but Aung San Suu Kyi has a very lenient and generous opinion of military figures”.). Again very much confusing!
    This shows his lack of sincerity towards his Boss( and towards himself, of course).
    The second question is NLD’s eagerness to recruit new bloods from 15000 wards and villages whom the leaders were ignorant of even their political belief ( ? including moles), and at the same time not hesitating to weed out many time-tested, party-faithfuls who had endured hardships for two decades. The party leaders had not even once uttered about party members including priceless leaders who had given their lives in prisons. It is their own ‘ choice’, isn’t it, sir?

    (

    • Yes, NLD party has a lot of secret things and agenda which is not transparent to the public.
      This party is getting complicated. We don’t know what Suu Kyi made an agreement with the army for future.

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