Monday, 22 November 2010

The National: Will Suu Kyi be allowed to shine, or fade away?

Another interesting article about the personality of the moment, Myanmar's very own Iron  Lady Aung San Suu Kyi:

Will Suu Kyi be allowed to shine, or fade away?
Faisal al Yafai (The National)

Last Updated: Nov 20, 2010

With her elegant looks, political heritage and calm exposition of non-violence, she quickly found wide support. With her fluent English, Suu Kyi garnered support beyond Myanmar's borders. But not enough - with no external assistance from its neighbours or the West forthcoming, the movement could not defeat the generals, and the following month the military retook control of the country. Martial law was imposed and thousands of activists locked up.

Allying herself with the pro-democracy movement, Suu Kyi formed a political party, the National League for Democracy. When the junta called an election for 1990, the league swept the ballot, taking 392 of the 492 contested seats. But the junta refused to hand over power and Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest.

Since then, she has been the face of Myanmar's plight, a symbol of resistance over long years when it often seemed the world had forgotten the Myanmarese.

Her defiance, her simple request that the ballot should rule, has taken a considerable personal toll. She has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest. Her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, when Suu Kyi had been released from house arrest. The junta refused Aris a visa to enter Myanmar and Suu Kyi refused to leave, fearing the generals would not allow her to return. Aris died in 1999, having not met his wife for four years.

Having given so much for the cause, her release last weekend attracted massive international attention. For the Myanmarese, hearing her voice was hugely uplifting. Barely had the roadblock and barbed wire that sequestered her house in Yangon been lifted when the crowd surged forward to glimpse their hero. They came in their thousands to hear her speak a few words, to remind her they had waited for her.

In interviews after her release, Suu Kyi looked relaxed, happy but determined. She reached out to the military. "I would like them to be the people who have decided that our country has a right to certain standards of freedom, of security," she told the BBC. "I want them to be the heroes."

Yet there is a curious ambiguity about Suu Kyi's future. The Lady herself has not changed: the simplicity and the steel remain. Nor have the feelings of many ordinary Myanmarese changed: the crowds celebrating and the cars beeping horns would have left the generals in no doubt.

But perhaps the political situation has changed. Than Shwe, the general who sits atop the military junta that grips the country, has transformed himself into a simulacrum of a democrat by allowing recent multiparty elections. Whether he will resign and allow the victors to take power is unclear, with the United Nations yesterday condemning the election as "unfair".

What role will the generals allow for the Lady in this configuration? An easing of relations, a meeting - as Suu Kyi has requested - or a swift return to house arrest for Suu Kyi once the eyes of the world move on?

Only the generals know. But Suu Kyi's mind is made up; she has made clear she intends to keep working for democracy. It is the only path she knows. "Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying," she stated in her 1990 speech. "So free men are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and to uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society." Whatever happens in the world around her, it is certain the Lady will keep trying.

read the full article here.

Sure hope Anwar Ibrahim and his spinmasters stop trying to hijack Suu Kyi courageous fight for democracy to bolster his sagging image at home, such arrogance on Anwar's part will offend a lot of people, Myanmar and Malaysians alike.

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