Dear Ms. Suu Kyi,
I recently saw your interview with Channel News Asia, where you stated that you wish to circumvent the Constitution after the landslide victory of your party, the NLD, because it doesn’t allow you to become President for having a foreign spouse and children. And you also want to elect a ‘nominal’ President to head Myanmar once your party forms the Government.
Let me tell you Ma’am, why your words made me sweat. As a child, I have always looked up to you as a person who stood for peace, democracy and disciplined action. When you won the Nobel Peace Prize, the world was ecstatic because we saw a future where you would come out of your house arrest and lead Myanmar towards a peaceful future. But today, after 25 years, when you again have the opportunity to win elections with a landslide victory in Myanmar, you have chosen to downrightly reject the fact that anyone else can lead Myanmar.
I agree that in the current state Myanmar is in, no one is better than you to lead it. Because anyone else, if given the mantle, can usurp power or become a puppet of the military, already in possession of 25% of the seats in the Parliament. But your open declaration of leading Myanmar irrespective of what the Constitution says scares me. Because I belong to India, a country where we had a similar scenario 10 years ago. Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress Party was touted to be India’s next Prime Minister, but a moral concern around her Italian heritage led her to give the top job to Mr. Manmohan Singh. Allegations were that Mr. Singh soon became Ms. Gandhi’s puppet, hardly expressing his views to the public and largely remaining silent on many important issues plaguing the country. While most of us knew who was calling the shots, Ms. Gandhi’s incessant manipulation of the Congress party and Mr. Singh won her more enemies than friends. Irregularities in administration surged, India faced one of the biggest anti-corruption movements in its history, and soon the Congress government had to make way for the Opposition party.
I am not saying that the NLD will face the same future. But what my concern is your eagerness to ‘usurp’ power if I may put it that way. As you said in the interview with regards to the nominal President, “ahead of the State doesn’t necessarily mean ahead of the Government”, clearly demarcating that supreme power will not be accorded to ‘him’ (and I also noticed that you preferred to not be gender-neutral here), is there any guarantee that power won’t corrupt you too, Ma’am? You have largely and strategically chosen to remain silent on important issues like the Rohingya Muslims and their citizenship in the run-up to the elections, neither have you condemned the violence being meted out against them. I fear that if the President isn’t allowed to have his say in the Government, then Myanmar will have a singular ideology leading the Party and the Government, and singular ideologies don’t let other opposition flourish.
I applaud your victory and I am elated that the military will no longer illegally hold power. Myanmar is finally heading towards democracy. But I hope you too don’t become a standing image of Thein Sein and other leaders before you, given the fact that this time, the people more blindly believe in the image of the leader, than in their political affiliation.