Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Suu Kyi Rated Top Global Thinker

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has received high praise from Foreign Policy, a well-known US-based magazine featuring essays written by world leaders and thinkers.

In the magazine's first-ever annual list of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" published in its December issue, Aung San Suu Kyi is ranked 26th, appearing alongside such globally-renowned figures as US President Barack Obama (ranked 2nd), British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (74th) and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton (6th).
French cultural personalities attend a silent gathering to support detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in October in front of the Paris city hall. (Photo: Getty Images)

The magazine praises her for “being a living symbol of hope in a dark place,” while Obama comes second for "reimagining America's role in the world."

Foreign Policy said: “Taking inspiration from Mohandas Gandhi and Buddhist principles of nonviolence, Aung San Suu Kyi built a mass movement in opposition to the Burmese junta and has spent 14 of the last 20 years under house arrest since winning a general election in 1989.

“In a famous 1990 speech, Aung San Suu Kyi argued that when 'fear is an integral part of everyday existence,' political leaders inevitably give in to corruption, and called for a 'revolution of the spirit' in Burma.

“She was thrown in prison and today is rarely able to communicate with the outside world," the magazine said. "[She] changed her stance on the international sanctions against Burma this year, offering to help the junta's leaders get the sanctions lifted.”

Veteran Burmese politician and journalist Win Tin, 80, confirmed Suu Kyi's prominence in a conversation with The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

“We should appreciate her political ideas and morality because she not only inspires the older generations but youth as well," he said. "She is a very kind and courageous leader. She has said, ‘If we need democracy, we need discipline and responsibility.’ She practices what she preaches.

“Her ideas are like a pure lotus in the fire, and her noble thoughts and morality influence her character and methods. She has great metta [goodwill] and kindness for other people,” Win Tin said.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Naing Naing, a prominent Burmese dissident and member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), supported Foreign Policy's asssessment, saying, “Like other martyrs, Suu Kyi is a beacon in the darkness Burmese people have lived in since Gen Ne Win's coup in 1962.”

“There is no doubt that she deeply believes in non-violence, and she faces any problem with great skill. She has shown she is ready to cooperate with anyone for the welfare of country.

“She said we all should fear doing misdeeds. She cannot bear untruth and will not tolerate unfairness. She reacts without hesitation to any situation with wise words. She represents an ideal and is an inspiration for us all,” he said.

Other southeast Asians rated as top thinkers by the magazine include Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (32nd) and Indonesian political analyst Rizal Sukma (92nd).
Suu Kyi is the pro-democracy leader of the NLD and the only daughter of Burmese national leader General Aung San.

Currently under house arrest having spent more than 14 of the past 20 years in some form of dentention under Burma's military regime, Suu Kyi has received more that 80 international awards, including India’s Gandhi Award (2009), the Jawaharlal Nehru Award (1993) and the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

With several famous books such as "Freedom from Fear" (1991), "Aung San Of Burma: a Biographical Portrait by his Daughter" (1991), "The Voice of Hope" (1997) and "Letters from Burma" (1997) to her name, she has expressed her ideology and beliefs in writing and in speech.

She wrote in "The Voice of Hope" that: “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.”

In her famous "Freedom from Fear" speech in 1990, she said: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”

Awarding Suu Kyi the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, the Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Francis Sejested, said she is "an outstanding example of the power of the powerless."

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