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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 8102

Ms SAFFIN (8:25 PM) —I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Wills and to associate myself with all of the comments of the other members who have spoken before. I would like to share a few things that I know and some of my experience of the country we call Burma and that the generals changed the name of in 1989 to Myanmar. I know Aung San Suu Kyi; I knew Dr Michael Aris, her husband. In 1997 when he gave a speech on Suu’s behalf at the university of technology where she received an honorary doctorate in her speech—which she had prepared and he gave—she asked that Australia broadcast Radio Australia into Burma.

Even though it has been quite a few years, and I have been one of the advocates involved in that along with other people, I am pleased that the Prime Minister announced that new channel last week as a show of solidarity. I know that all members across both chambers support that action. In standing in solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi, it is standing in solidarity with the people of Burma. It is the people of Burma that she has in her heart and in her mind and they return that. The generals are actually scared of the people and they moved holus bolus from Rangoon, the capital, up to Naypyidaw. They moved because they are actually fearful. Burma is a land of many peoples and lots of ethnic nationality peoples and the generals fear them as well as fearing those desiring democracy.

There is a whole range of things that have happened. In the 1990 election, as we heard here tonight, the National League for Democracy won 392 seats of the 485 contested. There are 492 seats but seven were deemed too unstable to run the election. Therefore the National League for Democracy won the election. Aung San Suu Kyi was barred from running by the law and she was under house arrest but her party by convention would have taken over government. Then they passed a whole series of laws starting with declaration 1/90 which changed the nature of the election. The election law at that time in order 5/89 actually stated who would be elected and what they would be elected for, which was to the parliament to draw up the constitution. Declaration 1/90 retrospectively changed that, but it still recognised that those people elected at that time had the right to draw up the constitution. They then set about changing that and those people were excluded, so that by the time the draft constitution was done, many, many years later, there was under one per cent of the people attending the national convention who had legitimacy according to the law at the time—order 5/89 and declaration 1/90.

In a show of goodwill people like the NLD and others agreed to work with even that declaration 1/90 to try to get the constitution up—they did not manage it. We then saw that the generals went to a referendum and they claimed a huge mandate for this constitution. You may not be aware that the constitution gives an amnesty to the generals and no-one else. When you have a country that has had a series of conflicts and civil wars raging for a long time against the centre and the generals, then that is just madness. The key thing that I wanted to say tonight was that the 2010 elections, based as they will be on that flawed and fraudulent constitution, will not aim at settlement.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr AJ Schultz)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.