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Oct-23-2007 05:05printcomments

Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi: Myanmar’s Saviour?

Myanmar’s future is at the crossroads: peaceful transition to democratic governance or autocratic rule of the military oligarchy. Suu Kyi holds the answer.

Aung Sun Suu Kyi
Photo of Aung Sun Suu Kyi courtesy:

(PENANG,Malaysia) - Undeniably the most talked about figure in contemporary Southeast Asia, Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate continued her steadfast non-violent opposition to the military junta government of Myanmar (the former Burma).

Recent developments in Myanmar of the repressive clamp down by the military authorities of demonstrators led by saffron-robed Buddhist monks and massive arrests throughout the country turned the focus on this slim, mild mannered and soft spoken lady of steel.

Myanmar’s future is at the crossroads: peaceful transition to democratic governance or autocratic rule of the military oligarchy. Suu Kyi holds the answer.

Suu Kyi's father, Aung San, as a
young officer. Courtesy:

Her pedigreed name after her father, the martyred acclaimed national hero of then Burma, Aung Sun (1915-47), made Suu Kyi a revered figure upon her return to her motherland in 1988 following many years abroad. Born on June 19th 1945, Suu Kyi left her beloved homeland whilst in her teens to accompany her mother who was then Burma’s ambassador to India. She left New Delhi for England where she studied at Oxford University.

After her studies she spent a working sojourn at the United Nations in New York. In 1972 she married the Oxford scholar Michael Aris and was blessed with two sons. Four years prior to her return to Myanmar, she published a biography of her father simply titled Aung San (University of Queensland Press, 1984).

Strongman General Ne Win (1911-2002), who seized power in 1962 from civilian Prime Minister U Nu (1907-95), established a military-dominated regime that sought to develop the country through Burmese-style socialism.

More than a quarter of a century later it was apparent that the general had failed in his socialist revolution when the country was plunged into economic disaster and social disorder. Street demonstrations and strikes broke out in 1988 that finally forced General Ne Win to step down. A string of generals assumed power and dutifully suppressed all opposition and dissent from the populace.

Against this background of clashes between the people and the generals, Suu Kyi returned to Yangon (formerly Rangoon) to attend to her ailing mother. She was drawn into the people’s struggle and became one of the founding members and secretary general of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest

The promised elections of 1990 witnessed the NLD sweeping a majority of the votes. The military authorities intervened and forbade the NLD to establish a government. Although denied a candidacy in the elections owing to her non-resident status and her marriage to a foreigner, Suu Kyi was speedily transformed into the leader and iconic symbol of the pro-democratic elements from within the NLD and from without.

Despite her perennial house arrest at her Yangon residence that attracted hundreds of thousands of supporters at its gates, Suu Kyi’s influence amongst her countrymen was never dissipated. Her determined advocacy of non-violent opposition and persistent struggle against the military junta earned her the respect of world leaders and the international community.

Admiration and recognition of her protracted struggle to re-establish democratic governance to her long suffering people and country was translated into her being a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

The fact that the so-called ‘saffron revolution’ was set in motion – anti-government demonstrations led by Buddhist monks – showed the populace is grasping at the last straws in protesting the repressive military regime. The saffron revolution might be the last bastion of non-violent opposition. It apparently has failed.

The world awaits Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s chess game with General Than Swe, head of the military junta and his colleagues. Both sides are talking tough, undoubtedly for public consumption to appear to be dealing with strength. Politicians are dime a dozen; it is statesmen that are rare.

A compromise political solution is the answer to resolving the Myanmar situation. If Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Clarke could go beyond being politicians and what a wonderful scenario the world had witnessed in post-apartheid South Africa, it is now Suu Kyi’s and Than Swe’s turn to show the nationalist in them and for the ultimate sake of their motherland to take the decisive step. A Malay saying goes: ‘It takes two hands to clap’, are we hearing the sound of clapping?

We sincerely hope and pray …


OOI Keat Gin is an associate professor and coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Research Unit (APRU) in the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia.

He has written a number of important books that are available on the Internet, including Southeast Asia: "A Historical Encyclopedia, From Angkor Wat to East Timor", "From Colonial Outpost to Cosmopolitan Centre: The Growth and Development of George Town, Penang, from late 18th century to late 20th century", "Rising Sun Over Borneo: The Japanese Occupation of Sarawak, 1941-1945", "Japanese Empire in the Tropics: Selected Reports and Documents of the Japanese Period in Sarawak, Northwest Borneo, 1941-1945" and Of Free Trade and Native Interests: The Brookes and the Economic Development of Sarawak, 1841-1941.

The staff of is very thrilled that Professor OOI Keat Gin is taking time out of his busy schedule in Malaysia to write articles for our Internet publication. He understands that Americans are watching events in Myanmar develop from afar, that they are very curious. It is his hope and ours that our visitors will gain a more direct understanding of these world events from a person whose life is dedicated to the development of peace on the Asian continent.

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davide April 12, 2010 6:02 pm (Pacific time)

We always recieved news messages from Myanmar people, they are complainted about committees of temple and please see at below.


Dear Sir and Madam,

We are Myanmar group in Malaysia; we lived in Malaysia over decade and always went to one of temple in Taman Desa Jaya, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur and we were very sad and regretting with the committees of temple because they are using our monks in wrong conception of Buddhist teaching or Buddhist rules. We came to temple to help our monks and respected of our religion.

That temple is president of name:Yip Kum Fook, that our monks said and he is invited our monks from Myanmar to in charge of that temple but without pay anything to our monks, added he and his not respecting of our monks and sometime he ordered of his people to collected item such as paper, mineral water etc. without inform any words to our monks. In our religious believed we can’t take anything of holy place, if we done we are sin.

In pervious, our monk said the committees always asked money from him, when our monks gave RM20,000.00 in cash on 2001 to the committees, then committees keep silent, later committees make problem with our monk again and cancelled of our monk Visa permit to stayed in Malaysia, then our monks( Sadayaw Nandiya) go to Australia and our monk not come that temple at long time. “Yip Kom Fook gave our monk notebook computer for to cover of that amount of money our monk said”

Many local people around temple said, now no more people come to this temple because committees is always make problem and we are heard from local people said: Yip Kum Fook ordered of his people to put fire of Hindu temple at Taman Daya, Kepong because he needed that place to make his business about many years ago. “Everybody known what he done for Hindu temple at Taman Daya, Kepong”

Last time also he invited police to arrest the monks at holy place(temple) and locked the temple without afraid and shameful of people because he believed committee is big and has more authority, also his son always say to people: this temple is belonging of his father. “This temple donated from public, we are work hard for this temple”

This temple the committees always changed the monks, now they change the new monk to in charge of temple, this new monk also complaint the bad things of committees because committees also wait for donation box only, they without help anything to our monks. And committees controlled of our monks not to talk more or complaint more, our monks lived there as slaver and afraid of committees members.

In new building where remaining of Buddha statue marble; we have renovation of Buddha statue because that Buddha statue is put very low, we lift to highest the committees don’t like and unhappy. In our country, anyone be able to come temple to worship the Buddha but in Malaysia is different temple controlling by committees.

We hope everyone preserve of Buddhist teachings, and please safety of our monks, not see only money as this of temple. When we asked some of our people ( Myanmar) and local people, the committees are very low of idea because is very narrow mind and without education of religions. And committees will not disturbing of our monks, monks are like our father to take care of Buddhism and temple is like our place of resolving of our problem.

Recently, our monk(Sadayaw Ashin Indaka original from Madalay, Myanmar) has been staying in this temple also unhappy because the committees are not pay anythings to him, he is working in hardly to advise people and we also unhappy and very sad when heard the bad news from our monks. Sometime the committees people came and shouting in the temple without have any reason and done what they need to do, our monk said, the committees of this temple don’t have Buddhist teachings in their mind, may be next time Buddhist can destroy.

From Myanmar Buddhist group in Malaysia but many word complaint by local Buddhist community in Malaysia. If anyone receive of this message(email), please forward or send to your friends to protection Buddhism in Malaysia.

Editor (Tim King) to davide: I am going to publish this as a story, please send me an email if you see this:  I can only view this as a letter at this point, if you and I correspond I possibly could help more.  I will totally protect your identity, and I care greatly about your welfare and plight.  We love Aung San Suu Kyi and would love to see the world pay more attention to Myanmar.  Best to you, please write, thank you.

Janet October 25, 2007 11:01 pm (Pacific time)

Very interesting article. What an amazing woman. Look forward to more reports.

mso October 23, 2007 7:02 pm (Pacific time)

Nice article, that freedom for Burma, hope we better soon peaceful world.

maybamar October 23, 2007 7:43 am (Pacific time)

thank you very much for your concern upon our country.After reading this article, I wish! both two can read this article for the sake of all burmese people.

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