Quantcast
Latest Stories

Suu Kyi offers hope to Myanmar workers in Thailand


MAHACHAI, Thailand  — Downtrodden but hopeful migrants from Myanmar crowded the streets for a look at opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who said she will do all she can to reverse decades of economic ruin and make it possible for them to go home.

Myanmar workers hold pictures of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her father Gen. Aung San as they gather to hear her speech in Samut Sakhon, Thailand on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. Kicking off her first trip abroad in nearly a quarter-century, Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi offered encouragement Wednesday to impoverished migrants whose flight to neighboring Thailand is emblematic of the devastation wrought on her homeland by decades of misrule. AP/WASON WANICHAKORN

In the town of Mahachai, home to Thailand’s largest population of Burmese migrants, thousands crowded around her Wednesday and chanted: “Long Live Mother Suu!”

“I had only seen her on TV and in newspapers,” said Saw Hla Tun, who left Myanmar’s Karen state seven years ago and earns a meager wage carrying heavy salt sacks on his back. “I couldn’t hold back my tears when I saw her.”

Khin Than Nu, who works at a Thai canning factory, said she dreams of her home in Myanmar’s Mon state.

“We left our parents in Burma, and all my brothers and sisters work here to support our parents,” she said. Using a Burmese honorific for Suu Kyi, she added, “I hope Daw Suu will help develop our country, and bring jobs so we can go home.”

Suu Kyi arrived in Thailand on Tuesday night on a trip that shows just how much life has changed in her homeland. The Nobel Peace Prize winner lived 15 of the last 24 years under house arrest and dared not leave during the intermittent periods of freedom because she feared the then-ruling military junta would not allow her to return. Now an elected member of Parliament, she will speak this week at the World Economic Forum on East Asia.

She’ll return to Myanmar briefly before heading to Europe for a five-country tour in mid-June. She’ll address the British Parliament, formally accept her 1991 Nobel in Oslo, Norway, and be the guest of honor at a Dublin tribute concert organized by U2′s Bono and others.

In Mahachai, southwest of Bangkok, Suu Kyi offered encouragement to the exuberant crowd, many of whom held signs that read, “We want to go home.”

“Don’t feel down, or weak. History is always changing,” she said.

“Today, I will make you one promise: I will try my best for you.”

After speaking to the crowd, Suu Kyi met with migrant workers who told her they are mistreated by employers but don’t know their rights and have no legal means to settle disputes.

Fixing a battered economy is one of the most crucial challenges facing Myanmar as it begins opening up in the wake of 49 years of military governance that ended only last year.

Thailand hosts around 2.5 million impoverished Burmese who have fled here to work low-skilled jobs as domestic servants or in manual labor industries like fisheries and the garment sector.

Andy Hall, a migrant expert and researcher at the Institute for Population and Social Research at Thailand’s Mahidol University, said the Myanmar migrants — up to a million of them lacking work permits — make up between 5 and 10 percent of the Thai work force, contributing as much as 7 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Many are exploited and paid reduced wages. Some have been trafficked; some have had their passports confiscated by employers. Hall said they were nevertheless “the lifeblood of a lot of the Myanmar economy, sending home money to support families who don’t have enough money to eat.”

“They have no voice, they can never speak up or stand up,” Hall said. “So for Aung San Suu Kyi to visit is like a dream come true, someone who finally may be able to bring attention to their suffering.”


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Other Stories:


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.


  • palaigit

    “Don’t feel down, or weak. History is always changing,”words of suu kyi…
    we should have this kind of leader, despite all odds and trials and strife, she benefited nothing from it personally but she still stood up for the burmese people….which filipino leader would ever do that? and not get blinded by money, power and influence.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • SMIC to issue P15-B bonds
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement