Thu 10 Jan 2013
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Burma’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) Chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken about the controversial donations by well-connected businessmen to her party’s charity programs.
Speaking in response to a question by a Mizzima reporter on the sidelines of the new parliamentary session in Naypyitaw on Wednesday, Suu Kyi said, “If those people who are labeled ‘cronies’ decide to support the NLD’s charity work or any other charity work for that matter, then let them. It is good that their money is spent on issues that need financial support rather than wasting money on other matters.”
She continued: “I don’t look at which organization they approach, whether it’s the NLD or another organization. I look at why they are doing it, what they are supporting, and who will enjoy the benefits.”
She said that we should examine whether the businesspeople in question used unfair practices or not [in their business dealings under military rule], but assume that each is innocent until proven guilty, and that even a person who is guilty must be given the right to reform.
Her comments come following criticism of the NLD for accepting large donations from Air Bagan, Sky Net and Asia Green Development (AGD) Bank.
Air Bagan and AGD Bank are owned by tycoon Tay Za who is blacklisted on Western sanctions.
Sky Net, Air Bagan and AGD Bank altogether donated a total of more than 200 million kyat (US $235,000) to an NLD education initiative at a fundraising event which made a profit of some 300 million kyat, organizers say.
The NLD’s education committee said that it would spend the money in education activities at Burma’s border areas.
In September, 2012, a guitar and a painting were auctioned at a fundraising concert by 88 Generation leaders who had been political prisoners. The winning bid of 58.8 million kyat ($70,000) was placed by Win Naing, the owner of the Sky Net cable network and Shwe Than Lwin company.