I spent some very happy time on the border of Burma and Thailand, many years ago. Aung San Sui Kyi was under house arrest at the time, and it was beginning to be possible and common to go into Myanmar but I didn’t. My stepson did a few years later. The woman whose guest house I was staying in, used to make a hot spicy beef broth with beef ‘scratchings’ floating about, and people on the Thai side of that border spoke about The Lady with affection and awe. In opium museums at the Golden Triangle they had books about her alongside porcelain opium pillows. I had always thought that her release would be a cause for great celebration, as it would signify the longer overdue liberation of the Burmese people.
When Hilary Clinton was out there, anxious to get her photo opportunity with The Lady at tea, my heart did not skip. The rapid moves to ‘liberalise’ the Burmese economy, under the pretext of democracy and freedom with Aung San Sui Kyi as a motif not what those people spoke about in Thailand.
The right to have your children abused by a foreign company exploiting cheap labour, instead o the junta was not the happy choice people dreamed of. That she is having to use her much anticipated public appearances to ask for investors to be responsible, and warning against reckless short termism, is deeply deeply worrying. This is a very exploitable country and when the west exploits, we don’t care if it isn’t pretty if we can’t see it, and we contract it out till we can’t.