Kachin party - but not KIO - to contest 2010 election

by Mizzima News
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 22:51

(Interview with Dr. Tu Jar)

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) will not be transformed into a political party to contest the planned 2010 general election, however civilians from the party will contest the election. Meanwhile, the KIO will cautiously follow news being circulated on the mounting pressure on ceasefire groups to surrender, according to Dr. Tu Jar, Vice-Chairman of the KIO, which reached a ceasefire agreement with Burma's military junta in 1994.

Mizzima's Phanida interviewed the Vice-Chairman and asked him of his views on politics, economics and environmental and health issues.

Q: Will the KIO contest the 2010 general election as a political party?

A: The KIO will never form a political party and contest the election. Only civilians will form a party and they will contest this election. The KIO has nothing to do with forming political parties and contesting elections; as this is a matter solely for civilians.

Q: We heard that the Kachin Consultative Council will form a political party. Is it true?

A: No, the Kachin Consultative Council will not form a political party, only civilians will form a political party. There will be occasional consultation and cooperation between leaders of the Consultative Council and leaders of other Kachin organizations, but the Kachin Consultative Council has nothing to do with politics and it will not form a political party. The people will form a party freely. This is our plan.

Q: If they so desire, how can KIO members join this party?

A: If they wish to join the party, they must quit any other organizations. The newly established party will be an independent party. It must be like that, and it will be like that.

Q: Let me ask again. Are you sure the KIO will not contest the 2010 election?

A: Our KIO organization will not contest the election and will not form a political party. We will follow the current path and will enter into a dialogue with the new government, which will emerge at the end of the 7-step roadmap. So, the KIO will not form a political party and will not contest this election. We will not make any trouble until the end of the roadmap, maintaining our current position and status.

Q: There is news being circulated of mounting pressure on the all ceasefire groups to disband and disarm. How do you comment on this news?

A: This is just the news. No such information has yet been communicated to the KIO. We just heard some news about this only on the radio. So, we must wait and see what happens.

Q: What political changes can we expect to see in Burma in a post-2010 scenario?

A: There will be a Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament), Pyithu Hluttaw (People's Parliament) and Amyotha Hluttaw (National Parliament), among other changes, after the 2010 general election. Then new governments will emerge as the Union government, State governments and Region governments. The current government will then hand over power to these newly established institutions. We see it like that.

Q: How has Kachin State been affected by the recent global economic downturn?

A: This is a global crisis. It's difficult to say how and to what extent it affects Kachin State directly. Everyone faces this crisis. There's nothing special in Kachin State.

Q: Can the KIO create job opportunities for Kachin people in Kachin State to enhance general livelihood?

A: The KIO cannot yet do much in this regard, as it has not yet received full power and authority. But there will be more job opportunities and less unemployment when there is peace and political change. There will be more jobs then in Kachin State.

Q: Why is there a lack of regional development and job opportunities in Phakant, despite the good jade output from mines in the area?

A: It's difficult to say on this jade business, the situation may be due to stiffer competition there. The business is not good and mineral mining (jade output) is declining. So we can see some inconveniences and failures in this business. At the same time, there are some successes. There is no drastic change in this regard.

Q: We heard that there was excess logging and deforestation in Kachin State. Has the KIO started environmental protection and forestry projects in Kachin State?

A: The KIO is continuously working toward forest and environmental protection. Now all logging has been stopped. Both the government and KIO do not wish to see it [continued logging]. The KIO always attaches great importance and the utmost priority to forest preservation and environmental protection.

Q: How about the promotion of the tourism industry in Kachin State?

A: Foreign tourism is a direct responsibility of the government. Foreign tourists must enter the country through official channels opened to them by the government. We see better infrastructure in road transportation in our State. We expect a better tourism industry as the State enjoys more peace.

Q: As an ethnic Kachin elder and leader, please tell me your comments on how other countries see Burma on geopolitical issues?

A: It is a wide range subject. In brief, there's no significance. There will be different views on our country among neighboring countries and those which are far away from our nation. I think the views of neighboring countries are more pragmatic. They support the junta's current roadmap and wish to see the implementation of this roadmap.

Q: Has the KIO any plan to curb river pollution in Kachin State created by gold mining in the region?

A: Gold mining is causing water pollution to some extent. However, we set some regulations to curb this menace, aimed at controlling the instances of unnecessary cutting and digging. But only a few people abide by our regulations.

Q: What is the KIO doing for HIV/AIDS prevention and treating those patients in the region?

A: The KIO is continuously striving with respect to this work. At the same time, the international community is doing this work too. In its health sector, the KIO is performing this job as a priority. We are doing our best in AIDS prevention and awareness campaigns. These are our priority works.

Q: What are the most important matters in the Kachin region?

A: The perpetuation and steadfastness of peace in Kachin State is the most important matter in our region. Then the next would be significant, day by day, political change and advances toward peace and development in our region. After this, our people can enjoy prosperity, better livelihoods and development in the health and education sectors. We can catch up with other countries and will experience a better standard of living.

Q: Anything you wish to add?

A: There are no more significant matters to discuss. Now everyone is interested in the current political trend and political change. At this crucial time, I would like to urge all the people, through their collective efforts and irrespective of race and creed, to extend their support to this party for the sake of all the people living in Kachin State.

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