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Aung San Suu Kyi Calls on Investors to Focus on How to Help Myanmar

Fon Mathuros, Director, Media, Communications Department, Tel.: +66 9 0678 3436, E-mail: fma5b6dbcc9b94@6cdfacc1fe89weforum.org

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  • Aung San Suu Kyi addresses participants at the World Economic Forum on East Asia
  • The Nobel laureate stresses the need for basic education and the rule of law in Myanmar
  • There is reason for optimism in Myanmar but this should be balanced by “healthy scepticism”, she says
  • For more information about the World Economic Forum on East Asia: http://wef.ch/EA2012

Bangkok, Thailand, 1 June 2012 – In a session with participants at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Member of Parliament of Kawhmu Constituent in Myanmar, challenged investors to be socially responsible and to ensure that their investments help her country to eradicate corruption and inequality. “We do not want investment to mean more possibilities for corruption,” the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We do not want investment to mean greater inequality. And we do not want investment to mean greater privileges for those already privileged.”

Suu Kyi, who is making her first trip abroad in 24 years, warned that Myanmar’s reform process is not irreversible. “It depends on how committed the military is to the process,” she explained. “It depends on national commitment. All the people must be committed to improving the state of our country.” The priorities for Myanmar are basic education and the rule of law, she noted. “We need basic education. There has been too much emphasis on tertiary and even postgraduate education. We need the kind of education that will allow people to make a decent living for themselves.” She called for a focus on vocational training, particularly for young people, many of whom are losing hope of finding employment. “What I am afraid of is not so much joblessness as hopelessness,” Suu Kyi remarked.

Myanmar must also aim to bolster the rule of law, she advised. “There are many good laws existing in Burma but we do not have a clean and independent judicial system.” Without the rule of law, even good investment regulations would be of no benefit, she stressed. Suu Kyi argued that Myanmar should be able to resolve longstanding differences among indigenous ethnic groups if there is mutual respect. “The gap is nothing like unbridgeable.”

Suu Kyi invited the more than 600 business, government and civil society leaders from 50 countries participating in the World Economic Forum on East Asia to help her country through this difficult period of transition and reform. “I am not here to tell you what to do but to tell you what we need,” she said. “Without national commitment, we cannot go forward. We don’t want to fall by the wayside because we have chosen the wrong path.” While the people of Myanmar and many around the world are optimistic about the country because of the many recent changes that have happened so swiftly, there is reason to temper the exuberance, she concluded. “Optimism is good but it should be cautious optimism. I have come across reckless optimism. A little bit of healthy scepticism is in order.”

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