SINGAPORE — Myanmar’s democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to make her first visit to Singapore in about three weeks, around Sept 20-22.
The opposition leader’s slated to give the keynote address, titled “Myanmar in Transition”, at the second Singapore Summit conference.
The by invitation-only conference is organised by the Global-Asia Programme Office, an inter-agency initiative co-led by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade & Industry, the Ministry of Finance, GIC, and Temasek Holdings.
As Myanmar is in the midst of political transition and national development, one of the objectives during Ms Suu Kyi’s visit will be to draw lessons from Singapore’s growth story.
She is also expected to reiterate her consistent political message that economic and political transitions must be complementary.
“Economic development, if it’s to be the benefit of all Myanmar people, needs to come along with greater transparency, political reform, independent judiciary, the rule of law and greater fairness for people within Myanmar. Those are the variables that will come hand in hand,” said Dr Alistair Cook, visiting research fellow at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore.
“She’ll also certainly speak about the need for resolving the political conflicts within the country. Broadly-speaking, national reconciliation but also some of those inter-communal tensions that we’ve seen flare up in the country recently.
“She will come with a comprehensive message to look at how to make the transition sustainable but also to stop short of saying ‘we’re fine where we are’.”
Ms Suu Kyi has visited countries like the United States, France and the UK after her release from house arrest in 2010. This will be her first visit to Singapore and her second visit to an ASEAN neighbour after her visited Thailand last year.
Dr Cook said it is significant that she has chosen to participate in the Singapore Summit conference.
“I think Aung San Suu Kyi has been offered many avenues to speak internationally. Where she thinks the message can be carried, where it is of importance for the transition process in Myanmar, then she’ll be willing to do that,” explained Dr Cook.
“It is certainly a very important investment forum. There is a lot of focus on what the opportunities and challenges are within Myanmar for economic investments so with that, it’s certainly an avenue which she will want to promote the issue of greater transparency and the need for supportive mechanisms to make sure that these investments aren’t going to be very high risk.”
He added: “It really signifies that Singapore is Myanmar’s third largest trading partner and its sixth largest foreign direct investor. It is the largest one within the ASEAN community that we’re seeing so Singapore is absolutely a financial hub and of great importance for that investment and to support that reform process.”
Top business leaders and politicians are not the only people who are keen to meet the opposition leader.
Many Myanmar nationals living overseas would only get a chance to read and see Ms Suu Kyi via the media and that is why many of these Myanmarese are extremely excited that she will be visiting Singapore.
The Myanmar Club is organising an event to cater to at least 3,000 Myanmar nationals to see and interact with Ms Suu Kyi.
The club is hoping to cater to more given the fact that there are over 200,000 Myanmar nationals living and working here.
Mr Shwe Nyan Win, a patron of the Myanmar Club, said: “Quite a lot of us are delighted that she’s coming to here. We are expecting her plans for the country and the Myanmar people who stay abroad. We have already heard some of the plans of the present government, President Thein Sein and one of the minister, U Soe Thein.”
Many hope she will be able to contribute her ideas and work with the government to execute the changes Myanmar needs. CHANNEL NEWSASIA