Talks between Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the government’s labour minister on Friday last week covered a range of topics, including the shock decision to halt work on a lucrative China-backed dam.
Asked for her reaction on the announcement that work would cease on the Myitsone project in Burma’s north, Suu Kyi told a subsequent press conference that it suggested the government had begun to “listen to the voice of the people”.
It was the third time the Nobel laureate has met with Labour Minister Aung Kyi since the government came to power in March, and observers have flagged the meetings as a sign that Naypyidaw is beginning to open up to the opposition.
“In my point of view, listening to the voice of the people is very good,” she said. “That is what every government has to do. Listen to the voice of the people. Concerns of the people must be addressed in all seriousness. So, I welcome the decision.”
In a letter to parliament last week, President Thein Sein said the construction of the dam, financed by China, would not continue in his tenure. The move took observers by surprise, as it appeared he had made an unprecedented concession to demands from Burmese that it be stopped.
According to the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, the two also discussed the rumoured amnesty of prisoners, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.
Asked in the press conference whether her National League for Democracy (NLD) party would take up a position in parliament, as has been mooted by the government, Suu Kyi remained coy. The labour minister said however that the party would be “welcome” in parliament if it registered again “in accord with the law”.
The NLD was dissolved earlier this following its decision not to compete in the elections last November. Election laws stipulated that Suu Kyi could not take part on account of her status as a former prisoner.
Before her release late last year, the regime had kept her under house arrest for more than 15 years.