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 7.

    This comes up every time there is a HYS on Suu Kyi. Even if Myanmar is considered by some as the official name, the BBC (and others) refuse to recognise the country as this since this is the name chosen by the Junta, preferring to use Burma.

    In fact this isn't just a western view; people in the region, including Burmese rerugees I have met, also use Burma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Having awakened in the middle of the night, I had the privilege of hearing Aung San Suu Kyi’s address to the forum. The straightforwardness of it and where she feels priorities lay – with the ordinary people and improving their lot - was refreshing. DC et al could learn a lot from such a woman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    According to direct quotations from Daw Aung San Suu Ki's speech (eg from the Daily Telegraph, which can easily be found with a quick Web search), she herself referred to her country throughout the speech as Burma. Does that not settle this particular debate for the purposes of this news report?

  • 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 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


Comments 5 of 33


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