Yangon: Burma``s freed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi believes change is on the way in her country after almost five decades of military dictatorship.
A long time supporter of Western sanctions against the ruling military junta, Suu Kyi, has of late softened her stance.
In an interview in Rangoon with The Daily Telegraph, Suu Kyi said she had shifted her stance on sanctions to “neutral”, encouraged tourists to support change in her country and hoped to announce that her party would contest regime-backed elections.
A year after release from arrest, her formerly unflinching denunciations of the military rulers have given way to a view that democratic change has already started.
“We have not been passive about sanctions when we thought we should have them. This is not a time to be passive but to be slightly neutral while we wait to see,” she said.
“With regard to sanctions, there are conditions that were imposed by the countries concerned. When those conditions are met I don’t think anyone will have to call for sanctions to go,” Suu Kyi said.
Following a meeting in August, Suu Kyi declared that Thein Sein, Burma’s new president, was sincere in wanting a departure from the past.
As the former right-hand man of retired senior general Than Shwe, President Thein was at the heart of the repressive apparatus that sustained military rule. Now, she speaks about him as an ally.
Censorship over the media has made way for freer reporting. The dragnet of regime spies on every corner has been partially lifted.
On her third organised visit to supporters yesterday, Suu Kyi said the hundreds gathered were not “moping” about the country’s condition.
The thaw has spurred Suu Kyi to relax another hallmark position that tourists boycott mass tourism packages to Burma.
Instead visitors have been asked to sustain responsibly its transformation.
“There has been change, not sufficient yet but we’ll get there,” she said. “I hope it will come along steadily and at a fast enough pace to make it credible.
“With the right kind of institutions, starting with the rule of law, Burma could progress very quickly,” said the woman who won the Nobel Peace prize for defying the junta.