Washington: Radio Free Asia has launched a
question and answer show with Aung San Suu Kyi, giving the
people of military-ruled Myanmar the rarest of opportunities
to communicate directly with the democracy icon.
The US-funded broadcaster is airing weekly
Burmese-language segments on Friday evenings with the
65-year-old opposition leader, who has been under house arrest
for 15 of the last 21 years and was last released in November.
Questions for Suu Kyi come in via email or phone and some
have already arrived from people within Myanmar, a Radio Free
Asia spokesman told AFP, adding that 20 percent of adults
there listen to the program.
Myanmar`s ruling junta clamps down hard on any dissent
but is unable technically to block the broadcasts, which the
population of the majority Buddhist southeast Asian nation of
50 million can pick up on shortwave radio.
"In Burma, there is no opinion or perspective expressed
on official media apart from that of the ruling regime," Nyein
Shwe, service director of RFA Burmese, said, using Myanmar`s
"Many Burmese people never in their lifetimes imagined
they would be able to hear Aung San Suu Kyi discuss her views
nor ask her their questions on the radio. For them, it`s a
A pilot episode, broadcast on November 30, featured six
questions from members of the diaspora living outside the
country: a doctor, a cartoonist, a student leader, a monk, an
activist and an ethnic leader.
Radio Free Asia provided a special audio version of the
first "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the People" show with Suu Kyi
answering the questions in English. This can be found on the
group`s website at www.rfa.org/english.
"We have constantly reviewed our position with regard to
sanctions and once again we are going to see if there is
anything we can do to improve the situation," she replied to
one question, treading carefully.
Suu Kyi was freed from detention on November 13, days
after a rare election which has been widely panned by
international observers including US President Barack Obama,
who said Myanmar`s "bankrupt regime" had stolen the vote.
Obama`s administration launched dialogue with Myanmar`s
military rulers last year after concluding that Western
attempts to isolate the regime had produced little success.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has welcomed this
engagement but warned that greater human rights and economic
progress are still needed.