In an exclusive interview with The Nation Group Editor in Chief Suthichai Yoon, Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi talks about her changing role and the future of a country that is opening up
Suthichai: How does it feel to shift from the role of a dissident to be a part of the establishment?
Aung San Suu Kyi: I’m not yet part of it yet. No.
But you plan to be one?
Well, one day I hope to be part of the establishment.
Is it tough to change roles?
No, it is hard work and we are used to hard work. It’s not tougher than the past.
When exactly was the moment that convinced you that ‘OK I’m going to play the game with the military’?
I don’t think you can say that it’s a moment, because we’d always held that cooperation is the best way to go forward. We always believe in negotiations, and joint efforts.
What were the promises or pledges that you got from them that made you think …?
There were no promises and pledges but I believe that the presi-dent genuinely wants reform, and he said very simply that he wanted to support and help along the process of democratisation, and we discussed the matter and took certain steps that made it possible for us to take part in the election.
But certainly you must have asked the president: Does the military really support this reform?
No, I didn’t ask him. I’m not going to discuss my private conversation.
But at least I’d like to know whether…?
As I said, I’m not going to discuss my private conversation, either what we talked about or what we didn’t talk about.
What’s the next step for you then?
The next step is to win the election. I think we should take things forward one step at a time.
And if you win the election, what role do you plan to play in parliament?
As a good parliamentary opposition.
Opposition? Or government?
Oh, we’re going to start as an opposition. We don’t form a government with 48 candidates, even if you win every constituency.
What’s your message to the world now that things are moving so fast in Burma?
Let’s watch the process of the election. I think we have to take things one step at a time.
And what’s important now is that the run-up to the election should be free and fair and should be in keeping with the democratic norm.
Has it been free and fair so far?
We’ve had some problems. I think our campaign manager held a press conference a few days ago to explain the problems. So I won’t go into the details.