THE Nobel Peace Prize has saved Aung San Suu Kyi all these years, especially during her 15 years of house arrest. The prize, she told the audience at City Hall in Oslo on Saturday, helped to break her sense of isolation and encouraged her to fight for democracy. After 21 years, she was able to deliver a lecture to complete the ceremony and receive the world’s greatest prize. But the question is can the prize also save Myanmar? It might depend on how she carries herself in the international community, especially in her part of the world.

…Truth be told, Suu Kyi still has to connect with the non-western world, especially Asia and Asean. When she visited Thailand recently, she did well in expressing strong support for the migrant workers in the central region. But her visit to Mae La camp in Mae Sot to meet displaced people was badly planned and hindered by Thai authorities. Nonetheless, the visit to Thailand … demonstrated her intelligence and understanding of issues involving her country. Her comments on Thailand, for instance, including those in the Nobel lecture, shone a light on both sides — appreciation for what Thailand has done for her people, but also a recognition that Thailand can do more to make the lives of both refugees and migrant workers better and less exploited.

Thailand aside, she has not shown any intention to visit any Asean country in the near future. But her political struggle and popularity should resonate well in the region, where dictatorship still is a preferred political system. Recent changes in Myanmar have had ripple effects throughout the region. If Suu Kyi is connected to the region, she will certainly become a political icon that can influence the 600 million … Asean citizens.

The western world has given her the status of a head of state whenever receptions or dinners have been given. …It is hoped that all this international support will help to promote Myanmar’s development and national reconciliation. Within a few months after her victory in the by-election, Suu Kyi has now successfully connected the once isolated country to the world community. Besides her, there are other players who can help or undermine her efforts. For the time being, apart from the Nobel Prize, her working relations with President Thein Sein and the military are equally important to ensure that reforms continue and stability endures. — (June 18)

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