Interview With Dr. Roding
April 5, 2002 (New Delhi)
Chinland Guardian: Sir, what is your position in the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party at present?
Dr. Ro Ding: I am one of the 13 member central committee of National League for Democracy/Liberated Area (NLD/LA).
And I am a secretary of NLD/LA. NLD/LA was formed in January, 1991 in Liberated Area (Marneplaw) by NLD MPs and members of NLD who fled to the liberated area. Now, NLD/LA has 4 regions and 4 branches offices. Western region (India), Northern region (China border), Central region (Thai-Burma border) and Southern region (Thai-Burma border) are the four regions and the 4 branch offices are in Japan, Korea, Australia and Los Angeles (US). All regions and branches are united together in one Central Committee.
Chinland Guardian: Were you an elected member of parliament in the 1990 general elections in Burma?
Dr. Ro Ding: I am not an elected MP in the 1990 elections. I was one of NLD leaders in Kalemyo Township. My Father, Do Thawng, is elected MP from Kalemyo constituency No.1.
Chinland Guardian: We heard that Pu Do Thawng, your father has been arrested and put in jail by the military regime. How is your father doing now? Do you hear news of him?
Dr. Ro Ding: My father was arrested along with my elder brother on 21st May,1996 by military intelligence and was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment without trial. He is now in Mandalay jail. My family members can meet him once in a month with some conditions. Firstly, they are not allowed to speak in our mother tongue, Chin, and in the presence of a member of Military Intelligent Service (MIS). I heard that the MIS officers met my father in prison in August, 2001 and asked him whether he will continue politics if he is released. The answer of my father was: “It would depend on the will of the people. If need be I’ll continue my political activities”. My father is one of 19 MPs who are still in jail, after junta released about 100 detained MPs. Sometimes, people from the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) have a chance to meet him.
Chinland Guardian: Do you have any comment on the “secret talk”? I mean between Aung San Suu Kyi and military government in Burma.
Dr. Ro Ding: The so called “secret talk” is just talk between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta. I didn’t see remarkable progress after 17 months of the “secret talk”. But, this “talk” shows that the junta has many problems among themselves and they cannot bear international pressures. We have to work hard to reach genuine dialogue or Tripartite dialogue. We (NLD/LA) are closely and carefully watching what is going on. The ruling generals are not trustworthy. To solve political problem of our country, there must be genuine Tripartite dialogue. Only this can solve the problems.
Chinland Guardian: We heard that you travelled to the United States recently to attend seminar on Chinland Constitution. Can you tell us about that?
Dr. Ro Ding: Yes, as a member of Chin Forum Management Body (CFMB) I was invited to attend the meeting on Chinland constitution drafting and CFMB meeting in USA in January, 2002. This meeting was sponsored by National Reconciliation Program (NRP) and organised by CFMB with the help of National Coalition Government of Union of Burma (NCGUB) and National Endowment for Democracy. We drafted future Chinland constitution and made some proposals for the future Burma constitution. The drafted constitution is being edited by our law experts and hopefully it will be ready to be distributed soon.
Chinland Guardian: Why are you involved in the Chin politics while you belong to the NLD party, which many Chins regard as a Burman political party?
Dr. Ro Ding: I involved in Chin politics because I am a Chin, born in Chin State of Burma. NLD is NOT Burman party as many regard it. NLD is a national party like the Congress Party in India. All nationalities of Burma are in NLD. Let me say that NLD is a winning party in Chin State in 1990 elections. NLD won 4 seats out of 13 parliamentarian seats in Chin State. CNLD win 3, ZNC 2 and so on.
And the other reason why I became a member of NLD is that I lived in Kalemyo of Sagaing division where the population of Chins and Burmans are 50:50. Chin people in Kalemyo area were divided into many parties such as CNLD, ZNC,NLD, NUP while Burmans were divided into only 2 parties those are NLD and NUP. I hope you can get my point.
Chinland Guardian: Do you have any relationship with the Chin armed organizations such as Chin National Front (CNF) and Zomi Revolutionary Organization (ZRO)? Doyou share the same objective with these armed organizations?
Dr. Ro Ding: The CNF is one of the members of National Council of the Union Burma (NCUB). NCUB is an umbrella organization of more than 30 pro-democracy and ethnic armed organizations. NLD/LA is also one of the NCUB members. And, again, CNF and NLD /LA are members of NCUB (Western Region). NCUB (WR) is formed in India by NCUB member organizations which have bases in the western region. I am the secretary of NCUB(WR). So, I should say that I have relationship with CNF through NCUB. We work together under the strategy, policy and tactics of NCUB.
Either myself or NLD/LA have no relationship with ZRO officially. However, I respect ZRO and their fighting for the rights of Zo (Chin) people. The chairman of ZRO Pu Thang Lian Pau is a good friend of my father and a good friend of our family too. I hope we (NLD/LA and ZRO) will work together more closer in the future.
Chinland Guardian: As a prominent Chin politician, what do you think is most important for the Chin people at present?
Dr. Ro Ding: I am just a revolutionist, not a prominent politician.
The most important thing for the Chin people is unity. We have to eliminate regional feelings, racial feelings, etc. which divide us. I am very hurt when I see a minor issue like “nomenclature of us”. E.g. Chin or Zomi or Cho .. these nearly break our unity. The other important thing is to maintain our national identity, dignity and image.
Chinland Guardian: Building unity, but how?
Dr. Ro Ding: Well, regarding unity, I don’t think building unity among the Chin people is not a difficult one. There are historical and geographical backgrounds that divide us. We are divided because of communication gaps among us, which is caused by geographical conditions. When we have no regular contact or relationship or communication for some times, we just regard other people who live two or three mountain away from us as “gentiles”. And as a result the dialect we use became slightly different from others. The level of our dialect differences is a result of the distance of our hills where we live.
Lack of unity severely hurt Chin people in the past and it’s still destroying us. I know that we deeply believe in our oneness as Chin and everybody wants unity. I firmly believe that we will get unity and will build strong and integrated Chin in near future, when we restore democracy in Burma.