The Freeland File
Global Market Data
Tales from the Trail
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Jack & Suzy Welch
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Our best photos from the last 24 hours. See more
Images of April
Dewey files for Chapter 11 in record law firm collapse
29 May 2012
Facebook shares plumb new depths, valuation questioned
29 May 2012
Obama honors Dylan, other "heroes" for their influence
29 May 2012
Biggest Greek bank warns of dire euro exit fallout
29 May 2012
Romney clinches Republican 2012 nomination in Texas
Romney tells vets dangerous world demands powerful military
Iran has enough uranium for five bombs: expert
Protests planned after minister calls for gays to be fenced in
A look at the UK’s most beautiful face
Thu, May 10 2012
Volcano covers Colombian cities in ash
Tue, May 29 2012
Cruise ship crunch
Sat, May 26 2012
Myanmar's Suu Kyi gets hero's welcome in Thailand
India PM seeks to heal bad blood on Myanmar visit
Sun, May 27 2012
Myanmar protests an opportunity to show more reform
Fri, May 25 2012
Suu Kyi to make first trip out of Myanmar in 24 years: party
Thu, May 24 2012
Myanmar police move against spreading power protests
Thu, May 24 2012
Myanmar must cope with protest, avoid violence: ASEAN chief
Thu, May 24 2012
1 of 8. Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets migrant workers from Myanmar, as she visits them in Samut Sakhon province May 30, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Sukree Sukplang
By Sinsiri Tiwutanond
MAHACHAI, Thailand |
Wed May 30, 2012 3:44am EDT
MAHACHAI, Thailand (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi received a rapturous reception in Thailand on Wednesday from crowds of cheering compatriots who flocked to celebrate her first trip outside Myanmar in nearly a quarter of a century.
More than 1,000 Myanmar migrants lined the streets waving flags and holding aloft pictures of Suu Kyi as she arrived to give a speech from the balcony of a dilapidated building in an industrial zone on the fringes of the Thai capital, Bangkok.
Suu Kyi, who will visit refugees from Myanmar in border camps later on her four-day visit, had refused to leave her country, also known as Burma, for fear of being blocked from returning by the former military junta whose rule she challenged.
Dressed in a floral blouse and red traditional longhi, or sarong, Suu Kyi waved and smiled as the crowd chanting "Mother Suu" jostled for a glimpse of her.
Labor activists estimate there are at least two million Myanmar migrants in Thailand, many sending home part of their wages to help families in a country where a third of the 60 million people live below the poverty line.
Suu Kyi said she would work to improve the rights and working conditions of Myanmar migrants.
"I've said this time and again - I don't want to make promises. It's not good if you cannot keep your promises after you've made them, But I can make you one promise - I will try my very best," Suu Kyi told the crowd, speaking in Burmese.
"I wish the migrant workers from Burma good health and wealth, that they be free from danger and can come back home as soon as possible."
Suu Kyi meeting fellow citizens in another country would have been unimaginable 18 months ago, when she was released from house arrest days after an election seen as rigged to favor an army-backed party to entrench the military's grip on power behind a facade of democracy.
"WAITING 25 YEARS"
But the quasi-civilian government which emerged from the vote, although approved by a parliament packed with retired and serving military, has surpassed expectations in introducing a series of reforms to try to rid the country of its pariah status after decades of isolation and decay.
"This is the first time in my life that I got to see her, I've been waiting 25 years for this moment," said one migrant worker.
"I want to ask Mother Suu to help the country to progress and develop. I believe she can bring that change. I want the country to develop faster. I just want to go home."
Such comments reflect the weight of expectation on the shoulders of the 66-year-old Suu Kyi, who has long been seen as Myanmar's sole hope for democracy due to her steely defiance during years of dictatorship.
She became a member of parliament this month following her triumph in a parliamentary by-election that reformist president and former junta general Thein Sein had convinced her to take part in after winning her trust.
Suu Kyi made a low-key arrival in Bangkok late on Tuesday. She is due to attend a World Economic Forum on East Asia and will address the conference on Friday.
On Wednesday, she urged the workers to learn their rights to avoid exploitation. She said she hoped economic conditions would improve in Myanmar so they could eventually return.
Economic sanctions and gross mismanagement by military juntas have squeezed Myanmar's economy, but the recent suspension of many of the U.S. and European embargoes once backed by Suu Kyi is expected to bring a deluge of investment in the resource-rich and strategically located country.
Suu Kyi is due to have talks with Thai opposition leader and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva later on Wednesday but will not get to meet Thein Sein in Thailand. He had been due to attend the economic forum but postponed his visit to next week, without explanation.
Next month, Suu Kyi is due to visit Switzerland, Norway and Britain. She will address an international labor conference in Geneva on June 14 and give a speech to Britain's parliament.
Thailand is the first country Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero, Aung San, has seen she left her home in Britain in 1988 temporarily - she thought - to return to Myanmar and take care of her dying mother. She arrived just as a student-led democracy uprising was erupting.
Suu Kyi was persuaded to lead the movement against dictatorship and was first placed under house arrest in 1989. She spent 15 of the next 21 years in detention and declined opportunities to leave, even when her British husband, Michael Aris, was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 1999.
(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.