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» World Economic Forum
Publication Date : 01-06-2012
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi today urged investors to be socially responsible and to ensure that their investments help Myanmar to eradicate corruption and inequality.
“I am not here to tell you what to do but to tell you what we need,” the Nobel Laureate said during a session with participants at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok.
Suu Kyi, who is making her first trip abroad in 24 years, invited the more than 600 business, government and civil society leaders from 50 countries participating in the World Economic Forum on East Asia to help her country through this difficult period of transition and reform.
“Without national commitment, we cannot go forward. We don’t want to fall by the wayside because we have chosen the wrong path.”
She further said: “We do not want investment to mean more possibilities for corruption…We do not want investment to mean greater inequality. And we do not want investment to mean greater privileges for those already privileged.”
The democracy icon warned that Myanmar’s reform process is not irreversible.
“It depends on how committed the military is to the process,” she explained. “It depends on national commitment. All the people must be committed to improving the state of our country.”
The priorities for Myanmar are basic education and the rule of law, she noted.
“We need basic education. There has been too much emphasis on tertiary and even postgraduate education. We need the kind of education that will allow people to make a decent living for themselves.”
Myanmar’s opposition leader called for a focus on vocational training, particularly for young people, many of whom are losing hope of finding employment.
“What I am afraid of is not so much joblessness as hopelessness,” Suu Kyi remarked.
Myanmar must also aim to bolster the rule of law, she advised. “There are many good laws existing in Burma but we do not have a clean and independent judicial system.”
Without the rule of law, even good investment regulations would be of no benefit, she stressed.
Suu Kyi argued that Myanmar should be able to resolve longstanding differences among indigenous ethnic groups if there is mutual respect. “The gap is nothing like unbridgeable.”
While the people of Myanmar and many around the world are optimistic about the country because of the many recent changes that have happened so swiftly, there is reason to temper the exuberance, she concluded.
“Optimism is good but it should be cautious optimism. I have come across reckless optimism. A little bit of healthy scepticism is in order.”