After decades of struggle, Aung San Suu Kyi is poised to lead Burma into a democratic futureby Peter Popham / April 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
At an election rally on a main road in Rangoon a few days before last November’s general election, an elderly man in a sober longyi—the Burmese sarong—sat on a folding chair in the crowd of excited children, waiting for the event to begin. Decades of ill-compensated toil in a state bank were etched in his face. I asked him why he was there, and why he was supporting Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). “I have supported the party since 1988,” he replied. “Everything needs to change. I have suffered, all the Burmese people have been suffering for many years in many different ways. I believe the NLD is the one organisation that can totally change our country.”
His view, and his stellar hopes, were typical of many I spoke to during those hectic, euphoric days before and after the general election. For some, especially the young, their feelings for “Ma Suu” were hard to distinguish from hero worship pure and simple. But for many there was not just hope but confidence that, once in power, Suu Kyi and her party would transform the nation.
“I believe the NLD can bring peace, change the constitution and implement law, order and justice,” a retired government employee told me at a huge rally in a Rangoon park at which Suu Kyi herself was the main attraction. A few days later outside the NLD’s headquarters, as the stunning results came in and it became clear that the NLD was heading for a landslide victory, a young man told me: “We trust her completely. We stand with the NLD. I hope she can change the constitution. She will be our Abraham Lincoln.”
It was moving to…