Suu Kyi on first trip abroad in 24 years

2012-05-29 10:26
Yangon - Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi heads to Thailand on Tuesday for her first trip abroad in more than two decades, ending an era of isolation and cementing her arrival on the global stage.

The former political prisoner, who won a seat in parliament in historic April by-elections, is expected to meet the Thai prime minister, attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia and meet Myanmar communities during several days in the country.

Suu Kyi, who spent 15 of the past 22 years under house arrest, will emerge into a world transformed, with the skyscrapers and frenetic activity of Bangkok presenting a stark contrast to her sleepy home city of Yangon, regularly beset by power outages.

She is due to arrive in Bangkok around 14:40 GMT. Her plan to leave Myanmar for the first time since 1988 comes as dramatic changes sweep the country, after decades of outright military rule ended in 2011.

Suu Kyi, fearful that she would never be allowed to return, had refused to travel abroad in the past, even when the former junta denied her dying husband a visa to visit her from Britain.

Migrant workers

Trevor Wilson, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, said her plans for foreign travel - including a proposed European tour in June - would be a key sign of the changes under a new reformist regime.

"It will demonstrate that the government allows her not only to travel, but also to return to Myanmar afterward and continue her political activities," he said.

Suu Kyi will meet Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra during her trip, but the timing has not yet to be confirmed, said the prime minister's secretary general Thawat Boonfeung.

Suu Kyi is also set to visit Myanmar migrant workers in Samut Sakhon province, south of Bangkok, on Wednesday according to local activists.

Thailand's workforce is heavily reliant on low-cost foreign workers, both legal and trafficked, with Myanmar nationals accounting for around 80% of the two million registered foreign workers in the country.

Suu Kyi is also expected to travel to the north of the country to meet some of the roughly 100 000 refugees displaced by conflict in Myanmar's eastern border areas.

The Nobel laureate is scheduled to speak in an open discussion with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab and appear at a session on the role of Asian women on Friday.

Nobel Peace Prize

Suu Kyi's European travel plans include an address to an International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva on 14 June.

After that she will make a speech in Oslo on 16 June to finally accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991 for her peaceful struggle for democracy, according to the Nobel Committee.

She also intends to travel to Britain, where she lived for years with her family, and will address parliament in London on 21 June.

Myanmar President Thein Sein, who is credited with a string of reforms that have prompted the international community to ease sanctions, has postponed his official visit to Thailand, which would have clashed with Suu Kyi's trip.

He will now travel to the country on 4 and 5 June, according to the Thai foreign ministry.
Read more on:    aung san suu kyi  |  myanmar

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
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

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

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

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 R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop 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


There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with 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.