Last week the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the general elections with a landslide majority in Myanmar, formerly Burma. NLD is led by Aung Sung Sui Kyi, petite, pretty and the pluckiest of women alive.
I am inspired by women with political guts to fight tyranny/oppression. Aung Sung is one of those women, a true icon whenever icons have to be counted, not to bluff, but to inspire the masses to fight for their sacred human rights. Listen to what she has to say to her followers:
“Don’t think of yourselves as being unfortunate because of having to live through these times.
Think of yourselves as fortunate because you have an opportunity to work for justice and the welfare of other people. This sort of opportunity does not come to everybody all the time.” Aung Sung Sui Kyi was two or three years old when Burma became independent. Her father, an army officer, was assassinated shortly after the country’s independence, so she and her two brothers were brought up by a single parent.
When NLD was formed she became a member and was elected a member of the central committee. In the first elections, NLD contested, the party won 80 percent of the seats but was denied the opportunity to rule by the military junta, The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). She was placed under house arrest after she had unblinkingly faced the guns of the junta. Her party was proscribed.
Aung Sung Sui Kyi was married to an Englishman, Michael Aris who I had the luck to meet in Chicago in 1996 and had the privilege to hear about this iron lady from her better half.
What impressed me at this occasion was that my friend who introduced me to Aris broke the unwritten protocol by introducing my namesake not by name but, “…meet the husband of Aung Sung Sui Kyi….!” We know it is usually the other way round, “…meet the wife of ………….!” Michael Aris didn’t mind this breach of protocol; on the contrary, he appeared to encourage it. So proud he was of his wife. Michael Aris and his wife lived apart, he in London and she in Rangoon.
He visited her occasionally under stringent conditions. She refused to apply for permission to visit him in London, because she knew if she wandered outside Burma, she would be denied re-entry. Michael Aris died two years after we met, proud that his wife was sacrificing herself for a great course.
In 2010 Aung Sung Su Kyi’s ‘house arrest order’ was lifted in response to the international pressure that prevailed and she got to work to rebuild her NLD under a little more tolerable conditions of political engagement.
One doesn’t know whether the military junta sensed whether the NLD would come back with the power of a tsunami to win the landslide victory, the party has won.
They however tried to hedge for prolonged rule with two conditions in the constitutions: The constitution provided for 25 ‘specially-elected members,’ secondly, Sui Kyi was rendered ineligible for the presidency as someone whose children were foreigners! A new chapter thus opens up in Myanmar. Leader of the winning party can’t be leader of government. It’s inevitable, ‘two centres of power in Myanmar’ must result.
There’ll be a president who won’t be Sui Kyi; the NLD will be in power and Sui Kyi will still be its president! How will it workout? Simple! NLD and Sui Kyi will be in power unless the military junta reverts to its foul tricks. In this world of infinite tricks, tricksters however can run but they can’t hide. We shall be watching developments in Myanmar with interest in Botswana. We know the trick of ‘specially elected members of Parliament and Councils ‘ is the political ACE now-a-days, used to trump the opposition.
The provision of special elected members of parliament (SEMPs) was plausible in the early days of our political independence when without the provision, we would have had the blind leading the blind in the maze of the unlit political labyrinth we had entered into in 1966, when the number of Batswana with university degrees could be counted on the fingers of one’s hands, and there was no Motswana with experience to run a district council let alone a city council.
Almost 50 years after independence, with more than half elected MPs with university degrees, Domkrag continues to rely on SEMPs to the extent that it resorts to fraudulent conduct!
While NLD is facing the barrier of SEMPs, the Botswana opposition is facing facile intrigues of the recycling of defeated and unwanted candidates (unwanted even by own party colleagues) as SEMP! Tlhong botho (shyness is a sign of humanness) is a guiding Setswana adage; but no, the rogues in Domkrag aren’t shy to manipulate the parliamentary system, its rules and standing orders while they continue to pose as angels in the purgatory of the unfinished journey to the prematurely proclaimed shining example of democracy in Africa.
Just why did the pro-ruling party Speaker, the Leader of the House (who is Vice President of Domkrag scheduled to be president in three years’ time) and the so-called parliamentary counsel, connive to mislead the nation that the opposition was breaking the rules, when they were the ones trying to besmirch the opposition with the mischief that belonged to their camp. One doesn’t expect Botsalo Ntuane to be worried by his zero-score in the simulated SEMP contest. But one expects the leader of the BCP to come down hard on those defaming him, by dragging his name in the SEMP mud!