Suu Kyi warns against 'reckless optimism' on Burma reforms


Aung San Suu Kyi: ''We have to try to eradicate corruption''

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has warned against ''reckless optimism'' over reforms in the country.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Bangkok, she said the process was not yet irreversible.

The parliament of which she recently became a member was still far from democratic, she added.

She also called on investors to meet the country's needs, saying that job creation and training was vital for Burma's young population.

She added that when investment comes into the country, then it should not fuel corruption or inequality.

''I am here not to tell you what to do but to tell you what we need,'' she said in her first major speech outside Burma for more than 20 years.

She urged investors who are planning to put money into Burma to do so with an awareness of the need for improvement in the lives of ordinary Burmese people.

''Please think deeply for us,'' she said.

At the scene

There has been an air of celebration about Aung San Suu Kyi's trip to Thailand.

So, speaking to business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum, Burma's Nobel prize winner urged caution.

She said it was not yet clear that the army was behind the recent reforms and urged the international community to avoid what she called "reckless optimism" and remain sceptical.

Investment in Burma was to be encouraged, she said, but warned that a proper legal framework and independent judiciary was not yet in place.

Burma could catch up with its neighbours economically, she said, but only if it prioritised tackling corruption.

Burma's military-backed civilian government has started a series of reforms to open up the country.

Practical plans

Ms Suu Kyi said Burma didn't want investment to mean further corruption and greater inequality.

''We want it to mean jobs,'' she added.

She said that skills training would be a key factor in enabling Burma's workers to fill any of the new jobs that are created.

''There is a great need for basic skills,'' she said. ''We need vocational training much more than higher education.''

While she said that she valued the latter, she added that the international community should consider the country's needs ''in a very practical way''.

Burma is committed to reforms, she said, and would like to be ''linked to a regional and global commitment to share growth''.

''We want to be part of that more prosperous, peaceful world,'' she said.

More prominence

Since arriving in the Thai capital on Tuesday, she has met Burmese migrants in the Samut Sakhon province - who gave her a rousing welcome - as well as dignitaries including Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

For the past two decades, Aung San Suu Kyi has either been under house arrest or was afraid that if she left Burma she would not be allowed to go back.

But recent reforms led to her election to parliament last month and she is playing an increasingly prominent role both inside and outside Burma.

The pro-democracy leader was given a passport in early May.

After her trip to Thailand she plans to return to Burma before travelling to Europe later this month.

She intends to go to Norway to formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize that she won in 1991, and will also visit the UK where she has family. She has also accepted an invitation to address the British parliament on 21 June.

It has also been reported that she will go to Geneva, Paris and Ireland.


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Burma's Transition


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  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Ms. Suu Kyi deserves thans for nipping the hypocritical optimism that has been bristling in the media in the bud. The press was going amok with positive commentaries where just six months ago it was N. Korea like analysis. How does a country that has been run down the drain for fifty years suddenly become a land of opportunity and potential? Maybe opportunity for venture and vulture capitalists.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    What reforms? The military completely controls Burma. They're allowing this token opposition as a front, nothing more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    The Western media has promoted the lady as some kind of messiah like it did in case of Barack Obama in 2007.But Myanmar has all the handicaps of of a typical developing Asian country. Long military dictatorship is not its only problem.Even if the lady is elected as the head of the country's government it will take a number of years for Myanmar to achieve the kind of development the media expects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @15 Le Bloke
    Actually, it was the rise of protestantism (vs RCism) without heirarchy which lead to the rise of democracies in Europe. Interestingly, with the wane of protestant Christianity, we also see fewer people participate in our democracies - maybe not causal, but certainly related. The rise of Islam will cause further deterioration... Other than Indonesia, there are no islamic democracies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    It is reasonable for Burmese leaders to be concerned with poverty and how to improve their economy. If this leads to more openness to other countries and hence ideas, and if this gradually increases moves towards democracy, that's a good thing imo.

    Of course it may not work like that, and I expect Aung San Suu Kyi's call for caution is well founded. But let's appreciate the glimmer of good news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    If you want to call invading countries and killing populations 'morals', that's fine with me.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.


    Actually the US in particular has been very limited in its removal of sanctions. If it only cared about money it would lift all sanctions immediately, but it has chosen not to. It's called 'morals'.

    "Appreciate your answer.
    I wonder if the UK will change it`s name if Scotland become independent?
    Maybe..UK-Lite :)"

    lol sounds a bit too much like a fizzy drink. Diet UK? :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    15Le Bloke
    the west only got democratic when christianity waned.
    In some countries. In England it was a gradual development, but parliament gained supremacy over the monarch in the 1640s, when Christianity was strong here.

    High Trust societies include some in the West with Christian foundations and some in the Far East, and can apparently be less corrupt and more conducive to business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Well she refers to her country as Burma.
    The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity.
    Aung San Suu Kyiour political, social and economic aspirations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    China is making big bucks in Burma, because everybody else was busy moaning about democracy, human rights and freedom. Suddenly, they found China is reaping the profits and now the West wants a chunk of the pie as well.//

    And the west should beat itself up over that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    9. No offense is intended. Using Burma instead of Myanmar is all about not recognising the Junta, not about ignoring minorities. I've met refugees who agree.

    Similarly, there are many different ethnic groups in Thailand too (Karen, Shan etc), yet that doesn't affect the name of the country as a whole. But yes, in minority areas the names of local tribes should be respected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.


    Treisman 2000 The causes of corruption: a cross-national study, J Public Economics:

    "Countries with Protestant traditions, histories of British rule, more developed economies, and (probably) higher imports were less ‘corrupt’. Federal states were more ‘corrupt’. While the current degree of democracy was not significant, long exposure to democracy predicted lower corruption."

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The policy U-turn concerning Burma by the West has nothing, I repeat NOTHING, to do with any political changes in Burma, but everything with money.

    China is making big bucks in Burma, because everybody else was busy moaning about democracy, human rights and freedom. Suddenly, they found China is reaping the profits and now the West wants a chunk of the pie as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Let's wish her look. Let's not get involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Aung San Suu Kyi sticks to former name, 'Burma'. Not just that, she also calls Yangon, the country's commercial capital, by its former name, 'Rangoon'.
    All through her remarks at the joint media interaction with PM Manmohan Singh, Suu Kyi used the word Burma more than once and Rangoon once, raising the question: "What is in these names?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    If anyone knows about reckless optimism it is Aung San Suu Ki'. This Buddha wishes her the best in her quest she has earned it......Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    3 Hours ago
    A common theme in Modern Western Democracys is the existence of a large Christian community. I wonder what brainy people might say about whether this is a coincidence or a prerequisit for what we see in the West.//

    Good point, though the west only got democratic when christianity waned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    #7 - Appreciate your answer.
    I wonder if the UK will change it`s name if Scotland become independent?
    Maybe ......UK-Lite :) ............. Have a good weekend, from Switz


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