Business, Economics and Jobs

Aung San Suu Kyi to travel outside Burma?


Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during an electoral campaign rally in Sagaing, Burma on March 4, 2012.



Burma's longtime dissident-in-chief, now on the campaign trail, will be ready to risk traveling abroad soon.

Aung San Suu Kyi, in a development broken by AFP, says she hopes to travel outside Burma, officially titled Myanmar.

Burma's dizzying changes are almost numbing at this point, but this one feels particularly significant.

Aung San Suu Kyi hasn't left Burma for nearly 25 years. She famously refused to leave in the late 1990s, even as her husband was dying of prostate cancer in England. She rightly feared the ruling junta would forbid her to come home and continue her struggle.

I'm sure many countries, particularly in the West, are drooling over the prospect of an Aung San Suu Kyi visit. Given her recent cooperation with the army-managed government, and her likely election to parliament via the upcoming April 1 election, the risk of Burmese authorities refusing to re-admit her after a trip abroad is extremely low at this point.

The men in power know that locking Aung San Suu Kyi out of Burma would totally reverse their newfound warmth with Western heads of state. 

But this is a fairly new sentiment. Last October, at Aung San Suu Kyi's political headquarters in Rangoon, I asked her second-in-command, U Tin Oo, if she'd be traveling abroad anytime soon.

His answer: "We never want to risk it. We’re still skeptical. Things are gradually improving, but with this sort of thing, we don’t know if she could ever come back."

Aung San Suu Kyi, in this video address to Hong Kong University, discusses her desire to travel at the 3:05 mark.