A first: Thai premier visits Burma's Suu Kyi


Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi (L) talks with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the embassy of Thailand in Yangon on December 21, 2011. Detained for most of the past two decades, Suu Kyi was released from her latest stint under house arrest a few days after a controversial election in November last year, which her opposition party boycotted.



Now that Burma's democracy crusader Aung San Suu Kyi is unshackled and on good terms with the army-backed government, her precedent-setting sitdowns are adding up.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped by earlier this month. This week, she's chatting with Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

This is highly significant: since Aung San Suu Kyi stood up to autocratic generals in the late 1980s, neighboring heads of state have kept their distance.

It's safe to say that consorting with Suu Kyi — despised by the Burma's ruling junta — would have seriously harmed relations just a few years ago. Even if a regional leader pushed for it (and I doubt any did) such visits would likely have been forbidden by the junta.

The Thai premier's visit offers a nice photo-op between two powerful Southeast Asian ladies amidst an era of hope in Burma. But it's not as if Yingluck's camp is above maintaining ties to the dictatorial old guard.

Her brother, former Thai premier Thaksin, appears to have visited former official ruler Than Shwe in Burma to secure an all clear for the Suu Kyi sit down, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma.