Chin Govt Allegedly Keeps Supporters Away From Suu Kyi Speech

By Zarni Mann 8 January 2014

FALAM, Chin State — Aung San Suu Kyi plans to complain after hearing accusations that the Chin State government forbade government staff members and students from attending her speech on Wednesday in the city of Falam.

“It’s unjust,” the visibly angry opposition leader said to a crowd of nearly 1,500 people, after an audience member made the allegation against the state government. “It’s against the law. I will complain about it to the state government.”

Suu Kyi was in Falam on Wednesday as part of her first trip to Chin State in over a decade. She traveled to Tedim Township on Tuesday, where she addressed a crowd of over 5,000 people, and she will continue next to the state capital, Hakha.

Residents from Falam and surrounding villages flocked to hear her speak at an outdoor football field on Wednesday afternoon, despite freezing winter temperatures in the northwestern Burma state. In a 15-minute address, Suu Kyi continued to campaign for constitutional amendments, as she did in the Chin State town of Tedim on Tuesday.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) chairperson has made constitutional reform a priority since joining Parliament in 2012, as the current military-drafted charter prevents her from becoming president after the 2015 election.

Chin State is the poorest state in Burma, and Suu Kyi emphasized the need for development.

“To have a developed nation, we need equal development among states and divisions,” she said. “If states are left behind, the country won’t be developed. The government should keep in touch with ethnic people to learn what they need.”

She added that development would also be necessary to improve education in the state. While schools across the country face limited resources and teaching staff, those in remote Chin State are especially struggling to accommodate the needs of students.

Suu Kyi said it was the government’s responsibility to offer more resources for education, but added that she would help provide a local middle school with a generator and stationary through the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charity that she founded in memory of her late mother.

When asked about deforestation around Reed Lake in the Falam area, she said she would tackle the issue as soon as possible after returning to Rangoon.