National League for Democracy (NLD) veteran Win Tin met with nationalist Buddhist monk Wirathu on Saturday at the Masoeyein Monastery in Mandalay. The pair discussed the opposition party’s efforts to amend the 2008 Constitution, specifically Article 59(f) which prohibits party chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming Burmese president due to her children’s foreign citizenship.
The controversial monk — who is spearheading a campaign to pass a law that effectively bans interfaith marriage — has been outspoken in his support of maintaining the clause, which he claims is in place to protect Burma’s national race and religion.
Win Tin countered that the NLD is working peacefully to amend the Constitution in conformity with public sentiment.
“We believe the Constitution is flawed,” the senior NLD politician said. “It was written without input or consent from the people of Burma. We seek to amend it in conformity with the will of the people and with the softest approach we can muster.
“With regard to important passages such as Article 59(f) and those providing the military with leadership roles, we are beginning to see more diverging opinions,” Win Tin told the monk.
In response, Wirathu said he had no issue with Suu Kyi becoming president, only that he was worried that amending the clause would permit foreigners to exploit Burmese people and allow them to take over leadership roles in the country.
“I too wish to see Article 59(f) amended — I am absolutely in support of [Suu Kyi],” he stated. “But it will ultimately allow those who are not ethnic nationalities to exploit the Burmese people who are simple and naïve. Our people are not ready for this kind of deceit — they don’t have high enough intelligence.”
Wirathu also suggested that, instead of seeking the presidency, Suu Kyi might consider becoming a “ringleader” who could wield influence on the president.
Win Tin replied saying that the Nobel Peace prize winner has the capacity to lead the country if the people can only help to “open the path” for her — by amending the Constitution.