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Suu Kyi names her favourites on Desert Island Discs

Aung San Suu Kyi was featured this week on the famous radio show that invites guests to name the music that means the most to them.

  • Robert Booth
  • United Kingdom
  • January 28, 2013
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After years of house arrest listening to Dave Lee Travis's pop picks, the Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi became the selector on Desert Island Discs on Sunday, mixing Burmese folk songs, the Beatles and Mozart before becoming the first guest in the show's 71-year history to choose a record they had never heard before – Tom Jones's Green, Green Grass of Home.

She picked the song after asking her secretary what she would like and after hearing its lilting beat, she concluded: "I like it. There's nothing wrong with loving one's home and family and feeling sentimental about it."

The 67-year-old Nobel peace prize winner had been approached to appear on the programme after she mentioned in her Nobel prize lecture last year that she listened to Desert Island Discs while a student in Oxford. Around the same time she also revealed she listened to the Lee Travis programme. The broadcast took six months to negotiate and fell through on several occasions, before the presenter Kirsty Young travelled to Naypyidaw in Burma after "swotting for this interview like I was doing an exam".

Aung San Suu Kyi said she had asked friends, colleagues and family to help her with her picks so she would be reminded of them on the desert island. Her classical selections included the overture to Mozart's Magic Flute and the Largo movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony, which she first heard in New York.

"It reminds me of the people in the States and elsewhere who helped us in our cause for democracy," she said.

She chose Pachelbel's Canon because she played on her piano during house arrest and it represented "tranquility and resilience".

Here Comes the Sun, by the Beatles, was chosen for her by Britain's ambassador to Burma, Andy Hayn, who said it was "a good augury of a time when we can all look forward to a better life in Burma", and her younger son Kim selected John Lennon's Imagine. She said Kim had "tried to educate me musically and tried to make me appreciate Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead".

She spoke about her relationship with her father, a Burmese army general who led the struggle for independence and was assassinated in 1947 when Aung San Suu Kyi was two. She said he was "my first love and my best love".

She said she was "very fond of the army" and when pressed about this complex relationship with the Burmese military, whose atrocities she has campaigned against, she said had been taught her father "was the father of the army and that all soldiers were his sons and therefore they were part of my family".

"It's terrible what they've done and I don't like what they've done at all, but if you love somebody I think you love her or him in spite of and not because of and you always look forward to a time when they will be able to redeem themselves," she said.

Aung San Suu Kyi made clear she still had ambitions to lead her country by winning the next round of elections. "I would like to be president," she said. "If you are the leader of a party then you should want to get government power in your hands so you can work out all these ideas that you have harboured for your country."

Full Story: Aung San Suu Kyi picks Beatles and Tom Jones on Desert Island Discs 

Source: The Guardian

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