• $5.99

Publisher Description

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, popularly known in Myanmar as "the lady" or "Daw Suu", is considered the leader of the Myanmar pro-democracy movement by locals and foreigners alike. An Iraqi taxi driver I met in Gothenburg, Sweden, did not know where Myanmar was but had heard of Aung San Suu Kyi. Likewise, a Nigerian taxi driver in Chicago was not aware of the fact that Burma and Myanmar were the same country, but he knew who Aung San Suu Kyi was. Since she won the Noble Peace Prize in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi (hereafter referred to as Suu Kyi) has been dubbed by some as the "goddess of democracy". Quite often, the biographies of leading political figures are written by their loyalists, enemies, or by neutral authors or scholars. In the case of Suu Kyi, however, one finds that most of the writings about her are written by her sympathizers and her enemy (the Myanmar junta). Her sympathizers typically describe how Suu Kyi has sacrificed her life in the struggle against the junta, and how the junta relentlessly represses the lady and other pro-democracy activists. For Suu Kyi's sympathizers, she is the answer to all Myanmar's socio-political problems. Some would even go so far as to say that Myanmar's problems will fester until she assumes the leadership of the country. However, from the point of view of the ruling junta, Suu Kyi has been the source of all political problems in the country. Since coming to power, the junta has published several hundred articles and more than five books detailing why Suu Kyi is unfit to lead the country. In this age of democracy and human rights, it is not surprising that many would only have a sympathetic view of the lady and a negative view of the regime that represses its own citizens to keep itself in power. The authors of the two books under review in this article apparently set out to present a balanced view of the role of Suu Kyi in Myanmar politics. Barbara Victor, the author of The Lady: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Laureate and Burma's Prisoner was in fact allowed to do research in the country on the condition that she write a balanced account concerning political developments in Myanmar. Needless to say, the country's military leaders wanted her to produce a book that described their system of governance in favourable terms. Victor explains how the military leaders in Myanmar view the political problems in their country, and how Suu Kyi and others view the political deadlock. While presenting the information she gathered in Yangon and elsewhere, Victor indicates that it was impossible for her to write favourably about the regime, other than mentioning that she thought some military officers she interviewed were highly intelligent. Justin Wintle, the author of Perfect Hostage: A Life of Aung San Suu Kyi, did not get a chance to see either Suu Kyi or any serving military officers. Relying on interviews with a number of political activists and the documents and press releases of pro-democracy organizations and foreign government agencies, he too attempts to reconstruct the story of Suu Kyi, especially how she came to be involved in the pro-democracy movement and how she has had to deal with the repressive military government which endeavours to exclude her from the political process at any cost.

Politics & Current Events
August 1
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

More Books by Contemporary Southeast Asia