The Irrawaddy

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Urges Lawmakers to Treat Each Other as ‘Comrades’

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the 2nd anniversary of the NLD-led national legislature.

NAYPYITAW — State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi urged the country’s executive, legislative and judicial branches to work together as comrades in the interests of the country during the 2nd anniversary of the NLD-led legislature on Thursday.

Speaking on the government’s checks and balances, Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader preached the merits of comradeship and advised against rivalry.

“When it comes to the interests of our country, there should never, ever be fighting between different groups or an unwillingness to cooperate.  Everyone should be able to cooperate with anyone for the interests of the country. All the citizens must be able to join hands,” she said.

She also assured the military, or Tatmadaw, which is guaranteed 25 percent of the seats in Parliament by the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, of its role.

“When I say elected lawmakers, I am not excluding the Tatmadaw representatives. We must work together collaboratively,” she said. “It is crucially important that all the lawmakers in Parliament treat each other as friends and comrades. Only then will they be able to effectively serve the interests of the country and the people.”

She also expressed her dislike of the term “opposition.” The opposition is not about opposing the ruling party, she said, adding instead that “opposition parties should join hands with [the ruling party], point out and criticize as necessary” for the sake of the country.

“You don’t need to view parties and groups that are different from you as the enemy. The true democratic mindset is about being able to work together despite differences and different views, and about building unity based on diversity,” she said.

Over the past two years, there has been an apparent lack of cooperation between civilian lawmakers and the Tatmadaw’s representatives in the national legislature, and the ruling party should engage more actively with the Tatmadaw and ethnic minorities, said political analyst U Yan Myo Thein.

“The ruling party needs to heed the voices of the minority parties in Parliament, and it also needs to initiate open and intense debate with the Tatmadaw representatives in order to build an equilibrium in civil-military relations,” he said.

He suggested that Parliament should form a parliamentary committee to smooth out civil-military relations.

Lawmaker U Sai Thiha Kyaw, of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, said NLD lawmakers do cooperate with their peers from other parties such as the Union Solidarity and Development Party and various ethnic parties in carrying out the work of parliamentary committees. But he said there was still a lack of cooperation when lawmakers from other parties submit proposals or ask questions in Parliament.

“If lawmakers from other parties submit a proposal, they don’t usually get support. That is the case when we put forward bills. Maybe it is the policy of the ruling party. And we have not yet seen an opposition in Parliament that can objectively evaluate the policies of the government,” said U Sai Thiha Kyaw.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also stressed the importance of moral courage and unity in overcoming the challenges facing Myanmar.

“We aren’t a very physically strong country. So it is critically important that we stand by our country with our mental strength in unity,” she said. “If we stand united with great mental strength, we will be able to overcome any challenge.”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.