Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi began her campaign tour in Myanmar on Sunday, amidst much fanfare in the southern town of Dawei. Ms Suu Kyi is campaigning in the coastal district to garner support for another National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate running for parliament, although she herself is seeking office in the rural township of Kawhmu. Ms Suu Kyi’s political tour marks the another step forward for Myanmar following its series of governmental reforms, as it is the first time she has been allowed to participated directly in a Burmese election.
Previously, the military-backed government had taken other significant measures to prove its commitment to reform, which include reaching cease-fire deals with the Karen rebels, releasing political prisoners, increasing press freedoms and easing censorship laws. Her campaign trail will be seen as another key test and will be closely watched by the West, who have agreed to consider easing sanctions on Myanmar if it meets a set of conditions, such as being able to conduct elections which are free and fair this year.
Ms Suu Kyi told the crowd at Dawei that the “[NLD] will bring democracy to the country”, “will work for development”, “bring rule of law to the country” and “see to it that repressive laws are repealed”.
The democratic candidate, who spent 15 of the last 23 years under house arrest, was released in 2010 after the elections that she was barred from contesting. This year, her party, NLD, will be contesting all of the 48 available constituencies in the coming by-elections to be held on 1 April.
Report: Suu Kyi Stirs Backers in Myanmar [Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2012]
Report: Myanmar’s Suu Kyi starts political tour before
by-elections [The Associated Press, 29 January 2012]
Thein Sein Visits Singapore
In other news, President Thein Sein will be in Singapore for a four-day state visit with his spouse Daw Khin Khin Win and a high-level delegation comprising several ministers, senior officials and business delegates. His visit will be the first since 2009.
He arrived yesterday and is expected to pay a courtesy call to President Tony Tan. He will also be meeting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Singapore-Myanmar Technical Cooperation Program, and will see Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong for a Breakfast meeting as well.
Report: Myanmar’s President Thein Sein visits Singapore [Channel News Asia, 29 January 2012]