Can Aung San Suu Kyi really change Myanmar? The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Miss Aung San Suu Kyi graduated from the Oxford University, B. A. in philosophy, politics and economics at St. Hugh’s College in 1967 (The Nobel Prize in Peace 1991, 2010). On the 27 May 1990, her party, the National League Democracy (NLD) won 392 out of the 492 seats (Burmese General Election, 1990, 2010). Despite her popularity with the citizens in Myanmar, the military disregards the result of that election.
After two decades, the Burmese general election, 2010 will be held on the 7 November and once again the spot light is brought back to the political stage of Myanmar ever since 1990. A question that has always revolved around Aung San Suu Kyi is – can Aung San Suu Kyi really change Myanmar? From my point of view, Miss Aung San Suu Kyi may not really be able change Myanmar. She can change the current situation of Myanmar however not completely; especially in a country that has gone through six different political transformations in the last half-century. Firstly, Miss Aung San Suu Kyi is inexperienced and “new” to Myanmar.
Although she was born in Myanmar and had received education there, during the years when Myanmar fell into military dictatorship, 1962, she was studying in a high school in Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, 1960 – 1964 (The Nobel Prize in Peace 1991, 2010). She had spent most of her adulthood and received education aboard. Even though she visited her mother annually and had been in Mynmar since 1988, most of the time she is kept under house arrest. One of her quote was “I saw many aspects of the country which I needed to see in order that I might know what we need to do” (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Quotes, 1997).
Despite so, much of her time is spent serving her house arrest terms. Although she had spent much of her time reading about philosphy, politics and many more books but what she had is mere knowledge she had gained from reading in order to lead a country, experience would be a vital contribution to the people. Miss Aung San Suu Kyi had received most of her education in the western and had worked for the United Nation (UN) for two years. She wrote and did researches for biography of her father (The Nobel Prize in Peace 1991, 2010). In one of her speech she mentioned that “People have been saying I know nothing of Burmese politics.
The trouble is, I know too much. ”(Wallechinsky, 1997). It could be true that Aung San Suu Kyi know a lot about Myanmar however some of the decisions she made had shown her inexperience as a leader. An example that show that her inexperienced would be the issue on Myanmar tourisim. There was a report in an August 2008 in which the World Travel and Tourism Council estimated that tourism provides about 5. 8% of Myanmar’s job. All these could had been more if not of Aung San Suu Kyi who asked the travellers to “visit us later, in 1995 and in 2002 she told the BBC that the NLD stand on tourism “has not changed” (Myanmar, Should you go, 2009).
A report in 2007 from Tourism Concern stated that, many Aung San Suu Kyi supports the boycott “unless we hear otherwise” from her. It is noted that, one of the British former ambassador to Myanmar, Derek Tonkin calls Aung San Suu Kyi ‘an idealist unable to compromise with the rough reality of Southeast Asian politcs’ (Myanmar, Should you go, 2009). By boycotting the tourisim, it is not the Myanmar government that suffer but the civilains that suffer. The government are not affected since they gets their income from trade of gems, timber, textiles and oil and gas.
The tourism sector employs 300,000, not including grassroots business. Creating jobs and incomes for the Burmese, is the way that can really benefit the population. Secondly, despite the overwhelming supports from the citizens in Myanmar, she does not have any supporters from the military. Myanmar has been under the military rule for 48 years. Even though the people would like to abolish the current military junta, they still need the power of the military and the police to control the stability of the country.
When the country starts to reform, it may result in some instability, if Miss Aung Sun Suu Kyi does not have the support and the power to control the military, the country would be in chaos which may lead to undesirable consequences. Most of Miss Aung San Suu Kyi’s influential supporters are from the western countries but the local military junta are not in good terms with the westerners. Without the support of local power, many political goals cannot be achieved. Thirdly, most of her speeches revolve around social reform and few talks about what are their plans for the future.
Right now what the people in Myanmar really need is social reforms however; soon other problems would start to surface such as economic factors, the need of jobs will eventually increase and more. A type of publication that Miss Suu Kyi uses was whenever she is interacting with the media, she would never forget to ask other countries for support – “please use your liberty to promote ours” (Aung San Suu Kyi, 2010). Currently, she has supporters from all over the world. It is to be believed that if she were to gain presidency of the country, aids will be provided to help her built Myanmar.
Yet the sanction that has been in placed on Myanmar has contributed to the sufferings of the citizens. Therefore I strongly feel that it is not way to gain attention that can help Myanmar gain democracy, if it is, it would had worked. The situation in Myanmar is not as simple as what the westerns think to why the military junta had rejected the aids for the May 2008 cyclone. One way to interpret why the military government rejected the aids would be “The Myanmar’s government … fear of American invasion and the fragile pride of its top officials” (Aung San Suu Kyi, 2010).
The western countries often regarded as superior, had sometimes unintentional showed disrespect to the third world countries by not understanding enough of a country’s culture. Hence disregarded the feeling of the citizen of the country they provide help with. Therefore, it is no wonder sometimes the Military junta unwelcome the aids from the westerns. For the upcoming election on the 7 November 2010, Miss Aung San Suu Kyi has decided to boycott the election. Some senior members from the NLD have formed the National Democratic Force (NDF) to contest the election” (Burmese General Election, 1990, 2010) as they claimed that a boycott would play into the hands of the government. The phenomenal of this is that, the members of the NLD has starts to showdoubts in the decision Miss Aung San Suu Kyi made and therfore they left the NLD to form a new party the NDF. This may indicate that her popularity is decreasing, though in a slow rate, as she passes her years under the house arrest. In conclusion, I really admire Miss Aung San Suu Kyi’s courage and what she had been trying to do.
Despite being kept under house arrest for two decades, she is still determined to change Myanmar in a way she believes in. Also if it had not been her, the citizens of Myanmar would not have tried to fight for their freedoms and rights. However no matter how determined she is, the military junta will, by all means try to get her out of their way. An example would be her endless loop of house arrest which will cause her to miss the election that is coming up on the 7 November. Moreover the non-violence demonstration had been going on for decades and nothing had really changes ever since they started.
If her focus is just on social reform, it can work on a short term basis but not in the long run. Moreover, she is losing support from her own party as she is being too idealistic. She has ideas in mind but has not done anything to realise them. Therefore, I think that, Miss Aung San Suu Kyi may not be able to really change Myanmar.
Reference Aung San Suu Kyi. (2010, August 15). Retrieved August 31, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en. wikiquote. org/wiki/Aung_San_Suu_Kyi Burmese General Election, 1990. (2010, August 28). Retrieved August 30, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en. wikipedia. rg/wiki/Burmese_general_election,_1990 Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Quotes. (1997, January 19). Retrieved August 2010, 31, from Brainy Quote: http://www. brainyquote. com/quotes/authors/d/daw_aung_san_suu_kyi. html The Nobel Prize in Peace 1991. (2010, August 30). Retrieved August 30, 2010, from Nobel Prize: http://nobelprize. org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1991/kyi-bio. html# Wallechinsky, D. (1997, January 19). The Voice of Her People: Aung San Suu Kyi. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from Parade: http://www. parade. com/articles/editions/1997/edition_01-19-1997/aung-san-suu-kyi. html? index=2