Suu Kyi: prepared to step down

Aung San Suu Kyi’s international image has been tarnished by the Rohingya issue.

Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is marking a year in office with observers disappointed by numerous violent outbreaks along the long borders and lower-than-anticipated economic progress, partly as a consequence.

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday acknowledged citizen’s disappointment over the state of the union, saying she was prepared to step down if the people expressed dissatisfaction with her leadership.

“When I joined politics, I said ‘I promise one thing: that I will do my best’. That’s all. I can’t do better than that,” she said in a rare televised address. “So, if you all think I am not good enough for our country and our people, if someone or some organisation can do better than us, we are ready to step down.”

Aung Tun Htet, an economist who advises Suu Kyi, said: “The glass is not half empty, but half full. There is still a lot to be done, but in view of the huge task facing us, we have come a long way.”

But others disagree with the military-drafted 2008 Constitution ensuring that the generals control three of the most important ministries – home, border affairs and defence – and have a parliamentary veto on charter change.

The numerous ethnic minority groups, which make up around 40 per cent of the 51-million inhabitants, are frustrated at the slow progress of Suu Kyi’s peace process.

Meanwhile, in impoverished Rakhine State since October 9 at least 70,000 Muslim Rohingya people have fled across the border to Bangladesh, according to the UN, after a military crackdown in response to a reported attack that left nine border guards dead.

The security forces have been accused of committing rape, murder and torture in Rohingya villages, prompting the UN to make claims of “ethnic cleansing” and “crimes against humanity”.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council agreed to send a fact-finding mission to Rakhine State to secure “full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims”.

In response the government has said it would only “inflame” tensions, as it continues to resist external interference.

In her speech, Suu Kyi said the government would not accept the international investigation.

Suu Kyi is under very little domestic pressure to protect Rohingya rights as most Buddhists regard the Muslim community as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

“It’s only a year,” said taxi driver Than Aung. “We have to be patient.”

Whether the people agree will be suggested by the results of 55 by-elections due to be held on April 1.

Picture credit: Wikimedia