Last updated: 1 february, 2011 - 13:54 GMT

World Have Your Say: Aung San Suu Kyi

Media Player

To play this content JavaScript must be turned on and the latest Flash player installed.

Play in either Real OR Windows Media players

A new parliament has opened in Burma for the first time in 22 years. Does this signal political change?

The pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi joins World Have Your Say from Rangoon and takes questions from a live radio audience for the first time.

We apologise for the quality of the phone line. A transcript of a selection of Aung San Suu Kyi's comments is below.

On Burma’s opposition politics

"I think the opposition is at its strongest because we have a lot of young people supporting our cause and in a much active way than we have ever done in the past. I have no problem with people having different opinions that is what democracy is about and I believe opposition inside and outside of the parliament can work."

"I don’t accept that there are two opposition factions. We are all united in wanting to bring democracy to Burma. We’re just doing it in slightly different ways."

"If we find one method is not working then we have to try others. We are at the moment trying to create a network for democracy all over Burma and it seems to be taking effect."

On the events in Egypt

(In direct response to an Egyptian caller) "I wouldn’t presume to advise you because you seem to know what you want to do and you seem to be going about it the right way. But I do want to remind you to keep a cool head and a strong heart and to never lose hope and to keep on going."

"I think after so many years people have got tired of the military. I think what it showed is that people have much better means of getting in touch with each other and arranging mass public demonstrations. [I’m not] necessarily envious but very interested and we are interested in the parallels in Egypt and the parallels with Burma but the institutions are not exactly the same. I think protests are one way of bringing about change but not necessarily the best way."

"I can’t say that I wish what was happening in Egypt was happening in Burma. But I am very, very interested and I sympathise with all those people who want freedom anywhere in the world. We want people to get the freedom that they deserve. I want them to succeed in what they are trying to achieve. As for the President leaving I think it depends on the situation in the country. I think if the situation has been such that there’s no other way then surely they have take whatever opportunities they get."

On her inspirations

"I think you need a combination of stubbornness and belief in the cause that I’m following. People talked about me being under house arrest but that is nothing compared to being in prison. My colleagues have had to go through much harder times than I do. I am inspired by them and strengthened by them."

"He [Aung San Suu Kyi’s husband] was very supportive to the very end. He was always thinking about what he could say to strengthen me to make me feel stronger and better. I have very fortunate with my family. My sons have been the same, very understanding and very kind and that has helped me. Without them it would have been very difficult for me."

On her house arrest

"I’ve learned to adjust but all the time I was under house arrest I listened to the radio five or six hours a day so that I could keep up with what was happening. I have the internet at my house. I have encountered Twitter but most of the Burmese people are using Facebook because it is easier for them to access."

"Although I was under house arrest my party did everything they could to keep in touch with the people. We have grass root support among the people and that is how we have managed to keep our support."

On India and China

"We want India to maintain its relations with Burma. We would certainly like it if the Indian government were more supportive of the cause for democracy. We feel that over the years the government has not been as supportive of democracy as we’d like them to be. I think it is up to the Indian government to decide how much emphasis they want to give to freedom and democracy because after all India is the biggest democracy in Asia and in the world and I think as a working democracy in Asia. It has gone through many difficult decades but they’ve managed to keep democracy alive. It would be very inspiring if they were to help us more."

"We have asked for something very small to start with. We would like them [China and India] to engage with us the opposition as well as with the government and I do not want them to leave us out of the equation. Just engage with us, talk to us as they are talking with the government. Find out what we are trying to do and see if they can help us in some way. Perhaps make them understand that our ways are not as bad as they think they are."

"We have had less help from our regions than we might have wished for. I think if the whole South East Asian region had been supportive of a movement of democracy we would have experienced a much better climate for our movement."

On her hopes for democracy

"I have always been attracted to the South African model [of democracy] because it makes room for responsibility and accountability and at the same time there is scope for reconciliation."

"I didn’t think it would take this long [to get democracy] when I started but at the time I didn’t have a clear idea of how long it was going to take. As the years went by I didn’t think we were taking too long over it or the people had suffered because our people have learned a lot along the way. Each achievement is a success. We do have a lot of support in Burma and this support has increased significantly over the last seven years."

"People always say it is a sacrifice to me my cause but I do not see it like that. It is a choice I made. I chose to do this work and as long as I feel that I’m doing my best I’m quite satisfied. Of course it’s not good enough because we have not yet achieved democracy."

"I hope I will live to see democracy. I really don’t know we want democracy as quickly as we can get it and I think. We are working all the time we are not just sitting and waiting. If you sit and wait it is going to take a long, long time but if you’re working all the time then you will see the changes."

"I hope the time will come when I will not need to be in politics anymore. I want many more young people to take over the task of making the country a better, safer, happier place."

First broadcast on World Have Your Say 1 February, 2011

Related programmes

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.