Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 08/30/2013 13:33 | By Channel NewsAsia

Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Singapore

Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Singapore

Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Singapore

SINGAPORE: Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to make her first visit to Singapore in September.

She is slated to give a keynote address entitled "Myanmar in Transition" at the second Singapore Summit conference which will be held from September 20 to 22.

The invitation-only conference is organised by the Global-Asia Programme Office, an inter-agency initiative, co-led by the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Monetary Authority of Singapore and in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade & Industry, Ministry of Finance, GIC, and Temasek.

As Myanmar is in the midst of political transition and national development, one of the objectives during Suu Kyi's visit will be to draw lessons from Singapore's growth story.

The lady is also expected to reiterate her consistent political message that economic and political transitions must be complementary.

Dr Alistair Cook, visiting research fellow at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore, explained: "Economic development, if it's to be the benefit of all Myanmar people, needs to come along with greater transparency, political reform, independent judiciary, the rule of law and greater fairness for people within Myanmar. Those are the variables that will come hand in hand.

“She'll also certainly speak about the need for resolving the political conflicts within the country. Broadly-speaking, national reconciliation but also some of those inter-communal tensions that we've seen flare up in the country recently. She will come with a comprehensive message to look at how to make the transition sustainable but also to stop short of saying ‘we're fine where we are’.”

Suu Kyi has visited countries like the US, France and the UK after her release from house arrest in 2010.

This will be her first visit to Singapore and her second visit to an ASEAN neighbour. Suu Kyi visited Thailand in 2012.

Dr Cook said it is significant that she has chosen to participate in the Singapore Summit conference.

"I think Aung San Suu Kyi has been offered many avenues to speak internationally. Where she thinks the message can be carried, where it is of importance for the transition process in Myanmar, then she'll be willing to do that. It is certainly a very important investment forum. There is a lot of focus on what the opportunities and challenges are within Myanmar for economic investments so with that, it's certainly an avenue which she will want to promote the issue of greater transparency and the need for supportive mechanisms to make sure that these investments aren't going to be very high risk," explained Dr Cook.

He added: "It really signifies that Singapore is Myanmar's third largest trading partner and its 6th largest foreign direct investor and it's the second largest one within the ASEAN community that we're seeing. So, Singapore is absolutely a financial hub and of great importance for that investment and to support that reform process."

Top business leaders and politicians are not the only people who are keen to meet the opposition leader.

Many Myanmar nationals living overseas would only get a chance to read and see Suu Kyi via the media and that is why many of these Myanmar nationals are extremely excited that she will be visiting Singapore.

The Myanmar Club is organising an event to cater to at least 3,000 Myanmar nationals to see and interact with Suu Kyi.

The club is hoping to cater to more given the fact that there are over 200,000 Myanmar nationals living and working here.

Shwe Nyan Win, a patron of the Myanmar Club, said: "Quite a lot of us are delighted that she's coming to here. We are expecting her plans for the country and the Myanmar people who stay abroad. We have already heard some of the plans of the present government, President Thein Sein and one of the minister, U Soe Thein."

Many hope she will be able to contribute her ideas and work collaboratively with the government to execute the changes Myanmar needs.

- CNA/fa

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