Interview

NDAA’s ‘1st Lady’ Stresses Importance of Peace for Women

By The Irrawaddy 1 July 2019

MONG LA SPECIAL REGION 4, eastern Shan State—Mong La’s National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) held an event to commemorate 30 years of peace in its Special Region 4 in eastern Shan State on June 30. State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi sent a formal message to the event urging the group to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA). Addressing the commemoration, NDAA leader U Sai Lin pledged to move forward to achieve “eternal peace”. 

Photos of U Sai Lin and his wife Daw Nang Yin meeting the State Counselor in Naypyitaw in July 2016 can be seen in various places around Mong La. To coincide with the celebration, Daw Nang Yin also had a portrait of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi painted as a gift for her. Media arriving to cover the Mong La peace celebration talked to Daw Nang Yin about her views on the State Counselor and her perspectives on peace. Excerpts of her comments follow. 

What do you think of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi? 

I respect Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. As a woman, her morale is very strong. As a woman, she must work harder than a man. Because, being responsible for household maintenance, including taking care of children and their husbands, women have to work harder. Therefore, [we] face more difficulties than men, whether it’s at work or in any sector. 

Daw Nang Yin with a portrait of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which was painted as a gift for the State Counselor / Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy

When you met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and had dinner with her [about three years ago], what unique qualities of hers stood out to you? 

Before meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, I read about her in Chinese, as much has been written about her in Chinese. Since then, I have developed a great deal of respect for her. She is a good counselor for the state and thus I respect her a lot; I imagined that I would meet her in person one day—and I did. It is not easy for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as a woman [to take the role that she has].

How important is peace for women? 

As a woman, I cherish peace and I want peace for the whole country. I want to see the fighting in ethnic areas end so that we women can feel safe and do not have to worry about our children dying in war. 

You have links to not just one ethnic armed group, but two [the NDAA and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, or MNDAA]. The NDAA signed a bilateral ceasefire but the MNDAA led by your father has not yet done so. How do you feel about that? 

As a daughter [of Phone Kyar Shin, aka Peng Jia Sheng] I am a Kokang. But after I got married, Special Region 4 became my home. I have experienced both fighting and peace; Special Region 4 is now at peace and people are benefiting from it. Thus, I want peace in the region to last a long time. I desire the whole country to have peace and solidarity among all ethnic groups. 

NDAA leader U Sai Lin (left) with a portrait of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi / Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy

We hear you arranged the food for Special Region 4’s peace celebration; how did you manage it? 

I oversaw the food preparation and I am very pleased about it, because we have special guests such as state leaders, government representatives and representatives from China. Also many reporters are here. So I am very happy and satisfied despite being a bit tired. When our friends arrive in Mong La, I want them all to have a good stay and enjoy the food.

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