Aung San Suu Kyi speaks with reporters at a press conference today at National League for Democracy headquarters in Yangon (Photo by Thomas Toe)
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi described her first trip abroad in 24 years as a “success” today following a visit to Thailand that appeared to strain relations with reformist President Thein Sein. Speaking at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party in Yangon, Suu Kyi dismissed press reports her visit to Bangkok and to the Mae La refugee camp near the Myanmar border had also left Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra concerned over Thailand’s relations with Myanmar’s government. “I didn’t do anything that made Myanmar people unhappy,” she said. “What I did was to meet my co-workers and … officials from Thailand who are responsible for migrant workers and we discussed matters of mutual benefit.” Suu Kyi said an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Bangkok last week had allowed her to gain different opinions from world leaders which would be helpful as Myanmar looks to open to foreign investors. However, a last-minute decision by Thein Sein not to attend the event has fueled speculation that her appearance may have sparked a rift in a relationship seen as key to Myanmar’s process of political and economic reforms. The New Light of Myanmar, a government mouthpiece, yesterday ran an editorial saying “anxieties remained” over her relationship with the government following the president’s abrupt decision to cancel his appearance in Bangkok. That followed an article in The New York Times on Sunday, the same day Suu Kyi returned to Yangon, citing a presidential adviser expressing doubts over the Nobel Peace Prize winner following her visit to Thailand. Suu Kyi did not comment on the supposed rift today, instead choosing to focus on the positives of her first trip abroad since she first joined Myanmar’s struggle for democracy in 1988, a trip which she said she would “never forget.” Having previously been afraid to leave the country for fear the military government would not allow her to return, Suu Kyi is set to visit Norway, England, Ireland, France and Switzerland starting from June 13.