Suu Kyi calls for Myanmar investment

2012-06-14 17:35


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi called for international investment to create jobs for her country's youth at the start of a landmark tour of Europe following years under house arrest.

Suu Kyi, who arrived at the UN offices in Geneva to flowers and applause, appealed for the investment in a speech to delegates at the International Labour Organisation conference.

"It's not so much joblessness as hopelessness that threatens our future," she said, making her first visit to Europe in 24 years.

"Unemployed youth lose confidence in the society that has failed to give them the chance to realise their potential.

"Foreign direct investment that results in job creation should be invited," she added.

Suu Kyi also spoke of the plight of migrant workers from Myanmar in Thailand, calling for co-ordinated social, political and economic policies "that will put our country once again on the map of the positive and the successful".

Oil giants

She told her audience she was "profoundly moved" by the "totally unexpected, very warm welcome" she had received as she began a five-country tour which will include a speech in Oslo to accept the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize she was unable to receive at the time.

Her visit marks a new milestone in the political changes that have swept the country formerly known as Burma since decades of military rule ended last year, bringing to power a new quasi-civilian government.

The Myanmar opposition leader has spent the last quarter of a century either confined to her Yangon home on the orders of the ruling military junta or too afraid to leave the country in case she would not be allowed to return.

She also told reporters that she thought French and US oil giants Total and Chevron, long a target of human rights activists for their activities in Myanmar, should continue to operate there.

"I find that Total is a responsible investor ... it is sensitive to human rights," she said after her speech.

The previous "concerns" about their support for the junta were a thing of the past, and she was "not going to persuade Total or Chevron to pull out" of Myanmar, especially when there was such a need for "democracy-friendly investment", she said.

Forced labour

Switzerland is the first stop on a tour of more than two weeks that will take her to Norway, Britain, France and Ireland.

Myanmar President Thein Sein has recently overseen a series of reforms.

They included releasing hundreds of political prisoners, signing peace pacts with armed rebel groups and welcoming Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party back into mainstream politics.

The ILO, a United Nations agency which draws up and monitors international labour standards, has sought for years to rid Myanmar of the practice of forced labour which it says is widespread there.

In March the government signed an action plan to eliminate it outright by 2015.

Suu Kyi will later on Thursday take the train to the capital Bern where she will meet Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter.

A foreign ministry statement said the talks would focus on the political situation in Myanmar, "which is currently undergoing a process of opening up".


Suu Kyi will dine with Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf in the evening and visit parliament before heading to Oslo on Friday.

Later in the trip the 67-year-old activist will address Britain's parliament and receive an Amnesty International human rights award in Dublin from rock star Bono.

The daughter of Myanmar's independence hero General Aung San won her first-ever seat in parliament in April, prompting Western nations to start rolling back sanctions.

In her address, Suu Kyi admitted she still felt "a little self-conscious" about referring to herself as an elected member of parliament.

The politician left Yangon as western Myanmar was rocked by sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya that has left dozens dead.

It prompted President Thein Sein to warn of disruption to the fragile reform process.

Read more on:    un  |  thein sein  |  aung san suu kyi  |  myanmar  |  switzerland

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may prefer to be in charge because then you can call the shots. You are not as flexible as you like to make out to be and more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.