Burma

Myanmar Junta Spokesman: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Father Would Think Her ‘Stupid’

By The Irrawaddy 5 April 2021

Since seizing power from the country’s democratically elected government in February, Myanmar’s military regime has been struggling on all fronts. Two months on, the men in uniform continue to perform poorly—except when it comes to killing their own citizens, something they have excelled at, having taken the lives of more than 500 people during their crackdowns. Nationwide public resistance to their rule continues unabated. Undeterred by arrests and forced evictions at the hands of the regime, huge numbers of civil servants are still refusing to work for them. Local administrative offices have been set alight.

On the propaganda front, they are faring no better. Just ask CNN!

The Myanmar military regime’s spokesperson has attracted public ire for his comments on the country’s democratically elected leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, during an interview with the network, saying he believed her father—independence hero General Aung San—would think she was “stupid.”

Led by the network’s chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward, a CNN team has been on a guided tour of Myanmar since last week, attempting to cover, with the regime’s permission, what is going on in the country.

Following the military coup in February, the entire country erupted into protest against the regime, calling for the uprooting of the military dictatorship. In response, the junta has killed more than 500 people, including children, during its nationwide crackdowns on protesters.

On Sunday, during a sit-down interview, Ward asked regime spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun if he thought Gen. Aung San, who founded the Myanmar military more than seven decades ago, “would be horrified if he were alive today to see what was happening in the country.”

Military spokesman Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun speaks at a military press conference in Naypyitaw on Jan. 26. / Thiha Lwin / The Irrawaddy

According to a leaked video clip of the interview, the spokesperson replied via an interpreter, “If I have to [imagine myself] in his place, he would say ‘How stupid my daughter is.’”

In the footage, Ward is visibly stunned by the reply, responding, “How stupid my daughter is?”

Apparently, it wasn’t the answer she was expecting.

Making matters worse, rather than lingering on the question of how Gen. Aung San would respond to the killing of civilians by the military he founded, the leader of the Tatmadaw (military) information team clumsily trotted out the military’s longstanding line of attack on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, one that has become a tired cliché by now—her marriage to a foreigner, the late Michael Aris, who was British.

The brigadier general implied that Gen. Aung San would disapprove of his daughter’s marriage to a foreigner because an article in Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution bans anyone with a foreign spouse from taking the country’s leadership position. The charter was drafted by the military and many believed that the provision in question—59(f)—was specifically included to bar Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency.

The worst was yet to come, though.

Apparently unsatisfied with offering a reply that was totally irrelevant, he offered another that was totally inaccurate.

“That [ban from the presidency for having a foreign spouse] was not our invention. It was already stated in the 1947 Constitution, which was drafted under the supervision of Gen. Aung San.”

In an embarrassing gaffe for an officer tasked with speaking for coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his regime, the spokesperson revealed he hadn’t done his homework when it comes to Myanmar’s history.

Article 49 of Myanmar’s 1947 Constitution, which deals with eligibility for the office of president, makes no mention of foreign spouses; it simply states that no person shall be eligible for election to the office of President unless he or she (a) is a citizen of the Union who was, or both of whose parents were, born in any of the territories included within the Union, and (b) is qualified for election to the Union Parliament.

Defining the qualifications of an elected person, Article 74 of the charter prohibits any person “who is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.”

After the interview clip went viral, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun unsurprisingly came in for public scorn on social media for insulting the Myanmar people’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Many ridiculed him by observing that it if anyone was “stupid”, it was the brigadier general himself, who not only answered the interviewer’s question with an irrelevant statement, but also quoted an imaginary provision of the 1947 Constitution.

 

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