Myanmar can bring China and India closer to each other rather than allow the country to become a zone of competition between the two large neighbours, says NLD chief Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi told India Today television in an interview aired Wednesday night that she would not be, ‘[so] presumptuous to imagine a role for that waiting for her right now’.
“But if we get to run Myanmar, we would look for good relations with both our neighbours. We have very good relations with Communist China and democratic India particularly after independence and that will be no different if we run the country,” Suu Kyi told India Today’s Karan Thapar.
“Both China and India can help us a lot.”
She said Myanmar was one of the first nations to recognize Communist China, but that was when relations with India were very good.
Suu Kyi described Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a ‘reserved person’ and Chinese president Xi Jinping also as someone who ’did not open up much’.
“But I had good meetings with both of them,” she said, adding, “Leaders of big nations don’t open up much, perhaps they cannot. They have to be cautious about what they say.”
When described as a ‘pro-democracy icon’, she reminded Thapar that she was just trying to be a “normal politician determined to restore democracy in Myanmar.”
“Icons sit on walls and do nothing. I want to institutionalize democracy in my country and India is a great inspiration for me. If you can institutionalize democracy despite so many challenges, there is no reason we can’t do that,” Suu Kyi told Thapar.
Thapar raised the issue of her silence on the Rohingya issue and about the rising spiral of Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar, suggesting Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s stance on both have dismayed her admirers in the West and India.
“They first criticized me for not being flexible with the military, now they criticize me for not being tough on many issues.”
Suu Kyi said she was extremely comfortable in India and had many Indian friends but for a long time she felt ‘very upset’ with India’s role in Myanmar.
“As the world’s most populous democracy, India turned its back on our struggle for democracy just because it wanted to deal with the military government. That has changed now because Myanmar has changed,” Suu Kyi said.
About Indian military operations against Naga rebels inside Myanmar, Suu Kyi demanded ‘complete transparency’.
“I realize it is not always good politics to reveal everything, but we need to inform our people and get their support for what we are doing. Or else arrangements may not work,” she said.
Suu Kyi said India must come to a settlement with the Naga rebels and Myanmar should do the same with those active on their territory and border.
“You must settle with your Nagas and we must [also] with those on our borders.”
But Suu Kyi said she was not aware of the ‘understanding’ that existed between India and Myanmar on fighting Naga and other insurgents.
When asked whether she would like to be President, Suu Kyi said she definitely wants to lead the country and turn it into a vibrant democracy.
“But I am not sure whether I want to be President under the present arrangements,” she said. But she did not elaborate.
Unless Art 59(f) of the 2008 constitution is changed, Suu Kyi cannot contest for President, even if her party wins the Nov 2015 elections.