Aung San Suu Kyi Arrives in Thailand

First post about one of the many happenings this week:

Aung San Suu Kyi arrived here in Bangkok last night on her first trip outside Myanmar in 24 years.

The AP has the backstory:

For 24 years, Aung San Suu Kyi was either under house arrest or too fearful that if she left Myanmar, the government would never let her return.

Now, in a sign of how much life there has changed, the democracy activist and long-time political prisoner is resuming world travels, arriving Tuesday night in neighboring Thailand after an 85-minute flight from her homeland.

In a story headlined “Amid Disorganization, Aung San Suu Kyi Visits Thailand,” The New York Times reports:

“We’ll have to play it by ear, I guess,” said Thani Thongphakdi, a spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry.

He was referring to the visit of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s democracy movement and a newly elected member of Parliament who arrived in Thailand on Tuesday. Ignoring a row of photographers awaiting her, she left the airport quickly without commenting.

A trip outside Myanmar is a personal milestone for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi — her first journey abroad in 24 years. But planning it appears to have been an afterthought. For example, no one from her office contacted the Thai Foreign Ministry, which normally coordinates such high-profile visits. “As far as I know, we have not been approached by her team,” Mr. Thani said a few hours before she was to land.

The Wall Street Journal says:

During her visit to Thailand, Ms. Suu Kyi will encounter the economic transformation that has changed the face of Bangkok and much of the rest of Southeast Asia during her time in Myanmar, also known as Burma. While Thailand and other neighboring countries have ratcheted up decades of rapid growth, Myanmar remains an impoverished backwater, cut off for years by strict sanctions from the U.S. and European Union and beset by power outages and crumbling infrastructure.


Global business leaders gathering in Bangkok for the World Economic Form meetings will likely seek assurances from Ms. Suu Kyi about doing business in the country and attempt to learn more about what kind of policy agenda she might pursue in Myanmar’s Parliament.

This morning Suu Kyi spoke to a large gathering of migrant workers from Myanmar in Samut Sakhon, outside Bangkok.

For images and text dispatches, see Tweets from Anasuya, Zoe Daniel, and Jonah Fisher.

Particularly memorable is this image, snapped by Zoe:

2012 05 30 assk samut sakhon

(All emphasis mine.)

(Image: Zoe Daniel, on Twitter.)

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