Lashio: Myanmar opposition leader
Aung San Suu Kyi reached out to ethnic Chinese and minority
voters today on the campaign trail in the north of the country
ahead of April 1 by-elections.
Addressing a crowd of about 20,000 people in the town of
Lashio, which is near the border with China, Suu Kyi said some
people were trying to stir up the Chinese community against
her National League for Democracy (NLD).
"I heard that Chinese businessmen and merchants were
threatened. They were threatened that their business could be
harmed if our NLD won as we have very close relations with
Western countries," she said.
"I would like to request the people to pass along the word
that these things are not true," she told the crowd, who were
holding banners reading: "People for Suu, Suu for the people"
and even one in Chinese.
Many people in Lashio and the northern Shan state area are
of Chinese origin, though holding Myanmar citizenship.
In her speech to the crowd, which included many Chinese
and other ethnic minorities, she stressed that the NLD was not
out to destroy Chinese businesses.
"We had good relations (between Myanmar and China) when we
had democratic governments," she said, without specifying the
period she was referring to.
"Problems were very few among us," she said.
"Both sides must have understanding to have fewer
problems. What we want is mutual understanding. We will try to
establish this kind of relationship (with China)," she said.
Lashio is a trading hub for Chinese goods such as clothes
and electronics and many shops and houses have Chinese signs.
Myanmar's giant neighbour is its second-largest trading
partner and biggest foreign investor and has helped shield it
from international opprobrium and the impact of Western
"We understand that investing and doing business in other
countries is for our benefit," the Nobel laureate told the
"However the people in the host country should have
benefited from it. The benefit should be for both sides," she
"We will work with this kind of spirit of equality."
Wearing a traditional Shan costume, she said the NLD was
for all ethnic groups, not just the Burman majority.
Suu Kyi also warned the crowd to be on the lookout for
vote rigging with just two weeks to go before polling. (AFP)
First Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012, 00:14