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Myanmar's Historic Elections; Aung San Suu Kyi Predicting Party Victory; Russia Could Face Athletics Ban after Doping Report; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 10, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: the dawn of a new era in Myanmar.
But how much change will the military allow?
As Aung San Suu Kyi predicts a landslide victory for her party, the current president's spokesman tells me the results will be respected.
Plus: state-sponsored doping; as Russia defending itself against the allegations, former U.K. Olympics minister Tessa Jowell calls for a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TESSA JOWELL, FORMER U.S. OLYMPICS MINISTER: What is absolutely clear is that if any of these athletes who were implicated won medals in 2012,
they will be stripped of those medals, clear and simple.
PLEITGEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Fred Pleitgen, sitting in for Christiane tonight.
And we're seeing scenes of jubilation in Myanmar. Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi believes her opposition party is on track for a landslide
victory in the country's elections. She says the National League for Democracy is set to win around 75 percent of the vote. It's the first
openly contested election the country has seen in 25 years.
The opposition has suffered under decades of military dictatorship and now people are daring to believe that change might truly be coming to
The military-aligned ruling party has already conceded defeat even as the official election results are still trickling in. Let's get the
government's reaction on the polls.
U Ye Htut is the spokesperson for President Thein Sein and he joined me a short time ago on the phone from the capital, Naypyidaw, for an
PLEITGEN: U Ye Htut, welcome to the program.
And, sir, first of all, I'd like to ask your opinion and your commentary on the election results so far.
U YE HTUT, SPOKESMAN FOR PRESIDENT THEIN SEIN OF MYANMAR, MINISTER OF INFORMATION, MYANMAR: This election is not only the victory for the
Myanmar people, it is also the success of the president, U Thein Sein, for particular reform process, which enable to establish the free, dynamic
environment, political environment in our country.
PLEITGEN: But, sir, did you expect the results to be the way they are?
I mean, it looks like a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD.
HTUT: Even though there's no official confirmation from the union election commission, but as far as we know from the early signal, there is
a majority for the NLD in the coming parliament.
PLEITGEN: One of the big questions, sir, that people have internationally is will these results be respected?
Because we know Aung San Suu Kyi's party won an election once before in 1990. And back then, the results were not respected.
HTUT: Yes, look, to understand, in the 1990, there is no constitution.
But in today, we have the 2008 constitution, which granted peaceful transition of the power to the winning party on the election. And the most
important thing that the president and the commander in chief already pledged, they will respect the decision made by the Myanmar people.
So the situation is very different in the 1990 and 2015.
PLEITGEN: When do you think that we'll know the full election results?
And when will we have a new government?
HTUT: They have to take at least near two weeks for to get the result from the -- all the constituency. We have to call the new parliament under
January and they have to elect the president. And they will form the new government in the March and the new government will take over in the 1st
April, according to -- the in line with our budget year.
PLEITGEN: And, sir, you are, of course, a spokesperson for President Thein Sein.
Has he conceded yet?
Will he concede?
HTUT: Now the president is waiting for the official result of the election. But up to now, the -- I, on the behalf of the president, U Thein
Sein, want to congratulated to Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD for their success in the election and wishing they can fulfill the desire of the
Myanmar people for the big change in the future.
PLEITGEN: One of the things, of course, that would constrain any party that is going to win the election, presumably the NLD, is the fact
that the constitution calls for 25 percent of the members of parliament to be appointed by the military.
Are you fearful that if this election turns out to be the kind of landslide --
PLEITGEN: -- that it's looking like, that perhaps the NLD and perhaps Aung San Suu Kyi will want to change the constitution?
HTUT: Yes, you do understand the 2008 constitution is not perfect. But it has created political space, which all the big stakeholders,
important stakeholders in Myanmar can work together, including the military.
So even in the -- under the previous military government, Senior General Than Shwe said if all the stakeholders can put the consensus then
constitution can be the change according to the will of the people. So the big question is how the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi can build a consensus in
today's military to move forward in the constitution amendment.
This is a key question.
PLEITGEN: Sir, one of the things, of course, that the constitution also does is because of one of the provisions in the constitution, Aung San
Suu Kyi herself cannot become president.
However, the way it's shaping up right now, it seems as though any president that might be put into office will be less powerful than her.
How do you think something like that can work?
HTUT: I think this is -- I also saw the Aung San Suu Kyi in the YouTube CME (ph). And also the previous press conference she said she is
above the president.
So this is an issue, it's how should be the answer by the Myanmar people and the elected president and the international community, who will
deal with the new president.
So our government is only able to transfer the -- our executive responsibility to the newly elected president. So after that, they are
able, decided by the new president and the NLD and the Myanmar people.
PLEITGEN: U Ye Htut, thank you for joining the program.
HTUT: Yes, my pleasure.
PLEITGEN: All right. Let's get another perspective now on the election outcome. Wai Hnin Pwint Thon is a human rights activist and
campaign officer at Burma Campaign UK.
Thank you for joining us.
And what do you make of these election results?
Do you think that real fundamental change is on the way?
WAI HNIN PWINT THON, BURMA CAMPAIGN UK: It's a very historical moment for people in Burma and it's a very happy time. But we have to remember
that even NLD can form a government in the country, the military still have the control because of the constitution. Without change in the 2008
constitution, we won't have change --
PLEITGEN: Do you think that Aung San Suu Kyi will do that?
Because it's clear she is very powerful but it's also clear that since being released from house arrest, she has been treading quite carefully,
THON: Yes, she said that it is very important to change the constitution if we want the democracy in the country. And she even said
that we haven't got democracy yet. This is just the first step towards where we want to go and the struggle isn't over.
And she even said it today with different media, that we need to be very -- it's important not to get overexcited. And there are -- we talk
about election but 20 percent of the population were not allowed to take part for various reasons -- political prisoners, ethnic minorities. They
were not allowed to take part.
So it's important not to get carried away and we need to be realistic.
PLEITGEN: Your father was a political prisoner for a very long time. There are still, as you've said, a lot of political prisoners who are in
jails in Myanmar.
What do you expect of the new government?
They need to tackle these issues quickly, don't they?
THON: Yes, hopefully it's very happy news because the NLD government will be able to change repressive laws on some of the issues. But when it
comes to main issues, they won't be able to change it because army still have the control over security services and the police.
Human right abuses will continue, even after NLD become a government. So they have a very limited control of what they can change in the country.
PLEITGEN: Well, the other thing is also that the folks that are coming into office now, they haven't been in office ever. These are a lot
of people who, while they may have been in politics, they have never had to run a country before.
Do you think that's an issue, that people might be disaffected, that people might be -- might not like the outcome in the end?
There's a honeymoon period between the voters and the new government. But that ends after a while.
THON: Hopefully they will be, you know, a lot of people who are coming into parliament now who are in the government now, are more in touch
with grassroots people. They understand about the people's struggle. They're not military. This is the first time we have civilian government
in the country.
So hopefully they will go for what change in the constitution and make sure that they hear what people of Burma actually need and they will --
hopefully they will include ethnic minorities and religious minorities from various areas.
PLEITGEN: There's a balance if change is going to happen in Myanmar, isn't there, because of the way that the constitution is and also because
of the general strength of the military.
How far do you think the military is willing to go?
At some point -- and constantly this is something that actually have a right to, isn't it?
PLEITGEN: They could step in and take over again, like they did in 1990.
THON: Yes, they wanted international acceptance. That's why they designed the 2008 constitution very carefully. They didn't want Aung San
Suu Kyi to become a president. That's why they put that clause there.
And whatever happens, they still have the 25 percent of the seats, so they can veto any part, anything that NLD puts forward. And also they
still have control, ultimate control of the country so they can still continue doing what they want to do. So of course, in the constitution,
they can take over the country they want, anytime they want by saying this is not working out. We're trying to put the country together.
So there is still a danger of it so that's why we've been telling the international community to not get overexcited. And this is just a tiny
PLEITGEN: How important is a strong economy and getting international investment into the country?
Because it's something that's already happening but it's a process that needs to be managed well.
THON: Yes, so at the moment, most of the businesses in the country are kind of controlled by either armies or their cronies. So they -- Burma
was falling far behind the sadization (ph) in term -- because of the sanctions and they wanted to get international acceptance. They wanted to
get trade and aid flow. And that's how they introduced the reform in 2008 constitution and not in the election.
So they want to make more money out of it. So we need -- grassroots people are not benefitting from all of the economy.
PLEITGEN: It's still the old cronies who are benefitting from it?
THON: Yes. So it's very important that the people in Burma benefit from all these economy and all these investments.
PLEITGEN: It's important that all the people in Burma benefit as well. And one of the things that Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized for
is that she has been fairly quiet on the issue of ethnic and religious minorities. There's a lot of conflicts going on within Burma. There's the
question of the Rohingya.
What do you think needs to be done there and also to maintain stability in the country?
THON: Well, she said that she will be standing up for a religious minority in the country because that's what good government would do.
That's what she said today. And hopefully she will be able to start talking about the religious minority in the country.
But at the end of the day what we have to remember is not her who is committing human rights abuses against those people. It's the military and
the president, Thein Sein. He has been committing human rights abuses.
So we need to be very careful who you criticize because it's the military who keep doing these human rights abuses. And they will keep
doing it as long as there's a 2008 constitution there.
PLEITGEN: There's a lot of exhilaration right now in Yangon and other places as well.
What was your father's reaction?
THON: I think that he is very busy and is very tired. So he is -- they know that they need to be realistic. They know that this is the first
step. So they're very focused on what they have to do next. They need to continue campaigning for -- his friends and some of his friends and
colleagues are still in prison.
So it's important to remember political prisoners; it's important to remember who missed out on this election. So they're focused on what they
have to do next and, of course, as a historical moment, we celebrate it. But we need to get on with the next step.
PLEITGEN: Yes and we will be watching as well.
Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, thank you for joining us.
THON: Thank you.
PLEITGEN: Democracy finding its way to the surface after decades of struggling beneath the surface.
And after the break, the world of sport finds itself sucked into another scandal, the doping and deceit casting a long shadow over
athletics' and London's Olympic legacy. Stay tuned. That's next.
PLEITGEN: Welcome back, everyone.
Accusations of doping in Russian athletics on a near industrial scale have rocked the sport to its foundations. Yesterday's report from the
World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, recommended Russia be banned from international competition. Today President Putin's spokesman said the
accusations were, quote, "unfounded," but the Russian anti-doping authority did admit they have a problem.
Just moments ago, the International Olympic Committee suspended Lamine Diack, the man who headed world athletics when much of the alleged foul
play was going on. Now the WADA report described the London 2012 Olympics as, quote, "sabotaged by doping."
Earlier, I spoke to Tessa Jowell, the minister responsible for delivering that Olympics to London.
PLEITGEN: Tessa Jowell, welcome to the program.
First of all, before that press conference happened yesterday, we were all expecting there to be a bombshell but this has exceeded even most
How shocked were you by what was said there?
JOWELL: I was absolutely shocked by the scale and extent of the analysis of the inquiry yesterday, particularly this suggestion that the
Russian government was implicated in this criminal activity.
PLEITGEN: A phrase that we hadn't heard basically since the time of the Cold War, "state-sponsored doping" is something that people might
remember from East Germany or the Soviet Union. But certainly not today.
JOWELL: Yes, that's absolutely right; it is like a throwback. But I think it's also a measure of the pressure that these athletes who did
succumb to extortion, apparently, were subject to.
If you are being put under pressure by your government to engage in criminal act, then you can begin to understand how in Russia, how endemic
this was in the Russian Federation and how hard it was for athletes and coaches to withstand this kind of pressure.
And this is why the global regulatory system for this has got to be overhauled to create resilience and independence for athletes in the face
of this kind of, I mean, albeit unprecedented pressure.
PLEITGEN: As many people who are calling now and the report as well are calling for Russia to be banned but judging from what you just said, is
that really the solution?
Because in the end, you'd be punishing the athletes, wouldn't you?
JOWELL: I think that this is not a rush to judgment. But the bar, the sanction has got to be tougher and represent more of a deterrent than
it clearly does at the moment. There is a lot of doping in sport. Fortunately, the rigorous testing identifies a lot of that.
Witness the fact that the American relay team had their silver medal won in 2012, withdrawn earlier this year because of drug cheating, so I
think that a number of things need to come together.
I think there needs to be more coordination and more clarity about who is responsible, less scope for variation. I think we have to look at the
pharmacological and other ways in which test results, reliable test results, can be concluded more quickly.
And then I think the third thing is that the sanctions have to be tougher for athletes who do cheat and for coaches who are implicated in
And think my final point for reform is that it simply isn't healthy to have usually men at the top of these organizations for years on end.
You know we have seen the impact of Sepp Blatter's long reign at FIFA and now perhaps we're also realizing the impact of Lamine Diack's long reign at
the LWAF. It simply isn't healthy and term limits for these positions should be introduced.
PLEITGEN: Now a lot of this happened around the 2012 Olympics.
How badly do you think that, in retrospect, the memory of the Olympics will be tarnished by this?
JOWELL: No, I think it's quite wrong to say that. And Dick Pound yesterday made absolutely clear that Olympic testing set the standard for
doping, identifying --
JOWELL: -- doping. And the fact that athletes were discovered doping during 2012 is evidence the system works but that no gains has been able to
PLEITGEN: Well, as you said, some people in 2012 were found to have dope. But many also -- it was not found out.
Do you think that there's more that you could have done to make those games cleaner?
JOWELL: No, I don't think that there is any more that could have been done. And you know, hindsight is a great thing. What is absolutely clear
is that if any of these athletes who are implicated won medals at 2012, they will be stripped of those medals, clear and simple.
PLEITGEN: Now the man whose task with righting the wrong, if you will, is obviously Seb Coe.
Do you think he is the right man for the job, considering that he was the vice president of this organization while a lot of this was going on?
JOWELL: I think the praise that Seb extended to Lamine Diack as he was stepping down, I mean, understandable in most circumstances, was the
clearest evidence that Seb Coe had not the faintest idea about what was going on. I know Seb Coe very well. I count him as a good friend. We
worked so closely together for nearly a decade on the London 2012 Olympics.
He is a man of dedicated vision, integrity and ruthlessness. And he is the person who, perhaps more than anybody else, wants to see the
integrity of track and field restored, not for the IWAF, but for the thousands of athletes across the world who give their lives to the
achievement of a medal on the world stage.
PLEITGEN: And finally, Madam, one of the questions that really got to me at that press conference of LADA was the question whether the athletes
in this are part of the problem or are more victims.
How do you see it?
You'd call for pretty strong measures.
What do you think?
JOWELL: Are athletes part of the problem or is it the systems?
I think it's the systems. I think it's also the systems and the people -- remember no athlete is an island. And athlete succeeds on the
strength of more than a hundred people supporting them.
But you know, in the case of Russia, which I sincerely hope is unusual, you had, it seems possible that you had the government of the
country imposing pressure on athletes to act as criminals in order to increase their chances of winning medals for the glory of Russia.
You know, this cannot be regarded as a widespread occurrence but we always have to be vigilant for the very worst behavior.
PLEITGEN: Tessa Jowell, thank you for joining us.
JOWELL: Thank you.
PLEITGEN: Well, hopefully the truth coming to light will help fix that broken system. It certainly appears to have worked in the United
States to fix another broken system.
After the CNN film, "Black Fish," revealed the horrific treatment of SeaWorld's orcas or killer whales, as they're also called, there is now
massive change in SeaWorld's policy. The theme park has announced it will no longer put on the shows with these intelligent and very beautiful
And after a break, another animal entering the job market. But this time it's keeping the humans in line. We imagine a terrifying pet project
taking shape in Indonesia. That's coming up.
PLEITGEN: And finally tonight, imagine a prison where incorruptible guards stand around the clock without complaint. That's the dream of
Indonesia's anti-drug head, Budi Waseso. He intends to recruit a unique breed of prison security and put them to work on a new island jail, holding
the country's drug traffickers.
But who are these vicious guards? Well, how about fierce and hungry crocodiles?
Waseso wants the crocs because, as he says, you cant bribe crocodiles. That maybe true but he goes even further.
The crocodiles in the murky waters will be personally picked by the anti-drug chief himself and he proudly proclaimed to a local news site that
he will search for the most ferocious type of crocodile.
Now if all this reminds you of an action movie, you're not mistaken. The prison may have its model in one of the Bond movies, the classic, "Live
and Let Die." However, in that movie, the crocodile guards couldn't contain Roger Moore. While he didn't bribe them, he still found a way to
(VIDEO CLIP, "LIVE AND LET DIE")
PLEITGEN: Pretty good moves but it's doubtful the ordinary prisoner will be able to master 007's fancy footwork. Let's just hope Indonesia
hasn't bitten off more than it can chew with this unique idea.
That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can see all our interviews online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter,
@FPleitgenCNN. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.