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Feb 17, 2010 (DVB)-DVB were one of the first to interview the National League for Democracy (NLD) deputy, Tin Oo after his release from 6-years under house arrest.
In this exclusive interview the 83-year old discussed the proposed election, the military, his hopes, and being released from incarceration.
Now that you have been released, how do you feel?
It doesn’t feel good as I’m the only one to be freed. There are still a lot of political prisoners remaining and I want them to be freed too. Actually, it can’t be considered that I’m free; I’m only being let out for the time being.
Are you seeing any changes for when you went in?
I don’t see many significant changes. I haven’t been to many places yet [after being released.] I was at the Shwedagon Pagoda [on Sunday] and prayed for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Also I visited to [the NLD] chairman [U Aung Shwe’s] house and met with him, U Lwin and U Lun Tin*.
What do you wish for the most at the moment?
I wish for open negotiation, dialogue and peace for the people and the country.
We learnt that you are keeping with the stance of the Shwegondine Declaration**. But the government has said that it is impossible to meet the demands of the declaration, such as revising the 2008 constitution.How much hope are you keeping on this?
The NLD has kept with this stance so as to find answers to the problems via dialogue and is continually making that call, as well as for the release of political prisoners and such. But nothing has happened and we are still firm on that stance. Regarding the 2010 elections, there has been no details whatsoever released; such as the elections laws or political party registry law. So just like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, it is not yet time [to make any decision.]
As you know, the [military government] has appointed a large role for itself in the basic constitution. As a former Defence Chief, how practical do you think this is for the democratisation in Burma?
Having a government formed of only those who win the people’s vote is the main essence of democracy. But now, [the military] will take up 25 percent [of the parliamentary seats] as well as taking up its own space in regional organisations and this is completely not democratic at all. If we are to be a democratic nation, then we have to practice true democracy measures such as allowing freedom of expression, freedom to discuss and form organisations. But in reality, the military will have its members take part everywhere, including [civilian organisations] so it will [dominate] 100 percent of the power in the government even though the constitution said there will be 75 percent civilians [in the government.]
So we can never expect to have a system in our country where the military stays in its own place and does not engage in politics?
We can still hope. Why not? The army is merely a unique organisation among the nation’s services. So it should have the same servant principles. Changes will occur according to the will of the people. Changes take place slowly, by finding answers step by step.
What was your view of politics when you were in the army as an official?
I looked to a peaceful nation, independently shared rule by the upper house, the lower house and ethnic representatives in the parliament.
When you were Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the military leaders now were junior officials in the army. Are there suggestions you want to make to them?
I would like to tell them to welcome ideas from the people and to pay them respect. It would be a wonderful situation if the members of the Tattmadaw treated people with due respect and did things aimed at the happiness of the public.