In the constant avalanche of bad news which rushes past us at frightening speed, it is sometimes quite easy to miss that some things are going in a good direction. We may briefly glimpse some positive events before they are overshadowed by the next catastrophe.
For example, it was easy to miss the news that a democratically elected government recently emerged in Myanmar (formerly Burma.) It gave Aung San Sui Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy opposition party the job of State Counselor. This deceptively fragile looking woman spent many years of her life under house arrest because of her activism as a dissident. She became an icon when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. It took 21 years before she could deliver her acceptance speech in person in Oslo in 2012. In her place her 2 sons Alexander and Kim traveled to Norway in 1991 to receive the prize on her behalf.
Because Aung San Sui Kyi was married to a British citizen and her 2 children are not Burmese citizens and do not wish to become naturalized, her country’s constitution does not allow her to become President. Therefore she chose a proxy President and named the cabinet members, all loyal to her. Her next step will probably be to try to amend the constitution.
After Aung San Sui Kyi was freed, she announced plans to liberate some 500 political prisoners still behind bars. This lotus looking “iron lady” will oversee the transition of her totalitarian country, for so long ruled by the military, to democratic rule. She is looking for examples at other countries in Latin America who have overthrown military dictatorships and at countries of Eastern Europe who overturned Marxist rule.
Much is expected of her, beginning with improving the lives of the great masses of people who live in great poverty. In addition, the Generals, who are all also businessmen, still control many of the seats in Parliament.
So far she has been silent about the persecution of the Muslim minority in her country and the violation of their civil rights, and that is held against her. Myanmar is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and she must find acceptance in this mostly Muslim organization.
Aung San Sui Kyi has the right credentials for leading Myanmar. Her father was General Aung San who fought for the independence of the country and was assassinated. Her mother was ambassador to India. Her role models are Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. She was probably also inspired by Mandela.
It has taken very long for her liberation and ascension to power. We can only hope that nothing will derail this positive development.