Aung San Suu Kyi: Once more with Gusto

Ever so often, things appear to change for the better.

The streets of Rangoon echoed with cheers on Sunday after unofficial results indicated Aung San Suu Kyi had won a parliamentary seat in a landmark election that could see the Nobel laureate and former political prisoner take public office for the first time.

“We won! We won!” chanted her supporters as they crowded the pavement in their thousands outside her party’s headquarters. Traffic was restricted to a thin line snaking haphazardly through the crowd, where young and old in red – the colour of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) – sang along to a Johnny Cash-inspired anthem calling for “the return of Mother Suu”.

Those who were not dancing swayed back and forth to watch numbers flash on a digital signboard that measured the NLD’s victories in byelections around the country, where the party was contesting 44 of 45 open seats in Burma’s 664-seat parliament.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory, which will not be officially confirmed for another week, could mark the moment that this poverty-stricken nation, where a military junta has ruled almost exclusively for the past 50 years, takes its first genuine steps towards democracy.

The NLD was competing in its first elections since 1990, after which Aung San Suu Kyi was held under house arrest for most of the next 20 years, and the poll was notable for its unprecedented access for foreign journalists and independent observers.

Myanmar/Burma is one of the economies that I have spent the last several years studying closely.  They are a member of ASEAN and are attempting to modernize to become part of a trade and monetary union.  Their economy is poor and it primarily reflects the poor government and rule of law established by the military rulers who seized power.  Myanmar has also experienced tough sanctions for their many human rights violations.  The current elections and the near future will determine the outlook for this country.  You may recall the brutal, murderous crackdown on protests by Buddhist Monks–often called the Saffron Revolution for the colors worn by the monks–in 2007. Nations are looking to Aung San Suu Kyi and her party to begin to bring the country back from its past. If this happens, the tiny nation may begin to recover from years of repression and poor economic results.

Ms Suu Kyi said in a statement: “It is natural that the NLD members and their supporters are joyous at this point.

“However, it is necessary to avoid manners and actions that will make the other parties and members upset. It is very important that NLD members take special care that the success of the people is a dignified one.”

During the campaign, foreign journalists and international observers were given the widest access for years.

The European Union hinted that it could ease some sanctions if the vote went smoothly.

The BBC’s Rachel Harvey in Rangoon says the NLD alleged some voting irregularities in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win told AFP news agency he had sent a letter of complaint to the election commission over allegations ballot forms had been tampered with.

He said there had been complaints that wax had been put over the tick-box for the party, which could later be rubbed off to cancel the vote.

“This is happening around the country. The election commission is responsible for what is occurring,” he said.

The military leaders are still dominant in this tiny southeast Asian nation. “Mother Suu” has only recently been allowed out from her house arrest of 20 years.  A lot of the international pressure started when the famous human rights activist won the Noble Peace Prize.  However, many nations have been pressuring the military to step down.  Sanctions on the country have played an important role too.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed hope for the Burmese people while in Turkey dealing with the Syrian problem.

“While the results have not yet been announced, the United States congratulates the people who participated, many for their first time in the campaign and election process,” Clinton told reporters in Istanbul.

“We are committed to supporting these reform efforts,” she added, noting that the government must continue to improve transparency and deal with any voting irregularities.

The military junta in Myanmar last year handed power to a new government led by President Thein Sein which has surprised even its critics with a string of reforms, which include allowing Suu Kyi to run for parliament.

“It is too early to know what the progress of recent months means and whether it will be sustained,” Clinton said.

“There are no guarantees about what lies ahead for the people of Burma.

This will be an interesting country to watch in the future.  My hope is that it will go well and that Mother Suu will be a central part of that effort.


14 Comments on “Aung San Suu Kyi: Once more with Gusto”

  1. quixote says:

    Suu Kyi for Leader of the World. I love her. And this matter of being the most famous and capable leader in Burma, but starting out in the infant democracy by running in what I gather is like a municipal by-election. Courageous beyond words, incorruptible, and unassuming. I love her.

  2. dakinikat says:

    Aung San Suu Kyi : Buddhism has influenced my worldview

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/aung-san-suu-kyi–buddhism-has-influenced-my-worldview/2011/12/01/gIQAR9m5GO_blog.html

    She’s one of my role models. She and His Holiness. It certainly is inspiring to see people that are truly oppressed and have had everything taken from them behave in a serene and loving way. The contrast to practitioners of other religions really stand in contrast to their behavior.

    And thirdly — well, I’m not embittered. But I have to say that I’m not saying forget the past. We must face the past. We can’t forget it. But we don’t need to remember it with bitterness. We don’t need to remember it with anger. We need the past in order to — we need to remember the past in order to avoid the kind of mistakes we’ve made then in the future. So we need the past in order to help us live the future better — the present and the future better.

    And you asked if it was anything to do with my faith. I suppose you mean with my religion. I suppose partly it must have something to do with that because, well, I am a believing Buddhist, so I am sure the teachings of Buddhism do affect the way I think.

    But more than that, I would state that when I started out in politics, in this movement for democracy, I always started out with the idea that this should be a process that would bring greater happiness, greater harmony and greater peace to our nation. And this cannot be done if you are going to be bound by anger and by desire for revenge. So I’ve never thought that the way to go forward was through anger and bitterness, but through understanding, trying to understand the other side, and through the ability to negotiate with people who think quite differently from you and to agree to disagree if necessary — if necessary and to somehow bring harmony out of different ways of thinking.

    • Deborah1 says:

      Suu Ky is a remarkable woman, Dak. she should be a role model for everyone. The world would be a much better place.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Kat, I am so thankful that you wrote about this. I must admit ignorance about reading books by and about Aung San Suu Kyi…but that is about to change. I’ve downloaded a few books and plan to read them over the course of the days/weeks I will be recovering from my surgery.

      One thing, I’ve commissioned Tashi to create a tattoo for me…this process was started weeks ago. It has been a wonderful process to discuss the significance of the words I wanted to convey. Originally I wanted the phrase “breathe deep” so that it is…

      associated with relaxing, stop and think, take a breath and calm
      >>> down…I want to be able to look at this tattoo when I have nervous
      >>> feelings, angry feelings, anxiousness, anticipation, excessive
      >>> happiness, anxiety, worry, migraine pain, being too sensitive, too
      >>> emotional and depression… This is an important tattoo for me. It
      >>> symbolizes many things, and since I write for Sky Dancing… It
      >>> is something that has made a difference in my life.

      He sent me back the words and meanings of what I wanted to say:

      The literal translation of “breathe deep” would be a clumsy
      >> translation in Tibetan and not truly the expression you wish to
      >> convey, the nearest equivalent in Tibetan is དབུགས་
      >> དབྱུང dbugs dbyung which means: to be confirmed in going, breath
      >> exhaling
      >> (sigh of relief, give relief, shelter, confidence of fearlessness,
      >> assure, confirm, relieve, make relax, give relief to, forgive, infuse
      >> with.

      Then I saw one of her books is entitled, Freedom from Fear…which is one of the definitions the tattoo Tashi is designing for me means. I know I am rambling right now…but it all is so neat and interconnected…

      • dakinikat says:

        Very wonderful!!!!!! I have a lotus tatoo’d between my breasts to remind me to use my heart mind (or think and feel) with wisdom. (Lotus is the symbol for female wisdom). I also have om mani padme hung tatoo’d around my left ankle to remind me to walk (or do all actions) with compassion. Every one always asks about the script.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Wow, those are nice tatts Dak…I am very excited about the tattoo that Tashi is designing…Now I need to find out how to pronounce dbugs dbyung so I can actually say what the word is…

          • dakinikat says:

            after you get the tattoo, I can call you and tell you how to do that … it’s kind of a breathy stacked consonant at the start … I’m sure once you hear it you will be easy … you have to start with you tongue up back and up … I’ll help

          • Minkoff Minx says:

            Oh that is wonderful Dak, I am so glad….

  3. RalphB says:

    A wonderful piece of good news! Best wishes and thoughts for her in the path ahead.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for this news, Dak. It’s very exciting.

  5. janicen says:

    This is a really feel good story. I’m smiling away. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. NW Luna says:

    What fantastic good news! I hope this is not enough vote-tampering to counter her win.

    “I always started out with the idea that this should be a process that would bring greater happiness, greater harmony and greater peace to our nation.”

    What a difference that would make. Thanks for posting this, Dak.

    She is on a very short list of People I Most Admire.

  7. It is fantastic to be so very delighted with the election of a politician.