Published: Jan 29, 2013
Right after she gave a lecture to the Hawaii’s community leaders on how the “truth” must be expressed in accordance with Buddha’s teaching at the East-West Center in Honolulu on the 25th of January, 2013, the Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi spoke of her adoration for the Burmese Army. She said, “I am fond of the Burmese Army, I can’t help it but it is the truth.” For many such as the Kachin people who are currently suffering from the brutal attacks of the Army, such Public Declaration of Affection (PDA) for the army has fostered nauseating effect rather than a heart-warming sensation which she apparently intended to spawn.
She reiterated her love for the army in BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday, January 27th 2013, saying that she is still “fond of the army” despite the “terrible” things it has done in the past. In this round of her trip abroad accumulating more accolades for her already crowded shelf, she may have an ulterior motive behind her frequent confessions of affection toward the army.
Through talking about her affection toward the army, she portrays and presents a more humane or gentler side of the army, if it has any, to the international communities who mostly acquire their policy cues toward Burma from her. In return, she would surely be found in favor with the army. Such calculated gesture itself may well be a smart political move, but in the context of the army’s genocidal war against the Kachins, the price maybe too much to pay.
In Hawaii, in her speech cautioning “journalists,” she outlined how the truth must be handled. Unfortunately, she practiced a portion of her own advice in a matter of expressing the “truth.” She suggested that the “truth,” of course, must be true. She did so practice her own advice in saying a true feeling she has on the Army. However, she continues to say that being true is not enough it must be beneficial and acceptable to the audience.
Her confession of love toward the gruesome army conveys to be unbeneficial and unacceptable to the Kachin audiences and to those who thinks ethnic cleansing war is wrong to achieve political solution. Thus, whenever she expresses her fondness of the army, she fails to follow her own advice.
It is obvious that as a politician, she wants to score points for her political gain. She did admit that she “wants to become a president.” Courting the army is not only a smart tactic but also a must move on her path to presidency. However, it is also a costly price to pay since it may turn out to be detrimental, or even be construed as immoral compromise, at the expense of the lives and suffering of the Kachin people.
In fact, she has been providing moral support to the army in time of its need which can be cashed in at due time. When it comes to ethnic Kachin issue, Suu Kyi has stood side by side with the army. She has deliberately kept silent to speak up about the atrocities perpetrated by the army in the Kachin Sate, and now, has intentionally displayed her affection toward the army in the face of Kachin suffering inflicted by the army. Recently, moreover, she sent a letter to the refugee camps urging the Kachin women to “endure” the hardship and not to “lose hope” while avoiding any criticism against the army.
A moral question that one needs to ask is what price would she be willing to pay to gain army’s favor. The army has been so far no more than a killing machine used to eradicate its own people, especially ethnic minorities. The price of consorting with the army for Suu Kyi is already quite hefty when it comes to the Kachin people for whom the army is no more than a band of thieves, robbers, murderers, rapists and racists. The Kachin population has pains, deaths, and scars to prove them as such.
Suu Kyi should heed to her own advice when she speaks up the “truth” about her fondness toward the army. Then again, such sensible advice cannot compete with a lucrative political gain lurking at her in the year 2015.