Monday, November 09, 2015

Burma is free at last (or so one can hope!)

Congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi (or "Ms Suu Kyi," as she's called in the West) for her party's apparent landslide victory in Burma. The celebration has to be a bit muted, unfortunately. In the run-up to the election, this lovely symbol of Burma's freedom remarked that she would "be above the president" in the future government. In a century that has witnessed Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, and various other presidents-for-life, it's not a good omen.

About the presidency: the generals long ago added the constitutional requirement that the presidential family have no taint of foreign blood. Aung San Suu Kyi was married to an Englishman, and her children were therefore citizens of the UK, so she was neatly barred from holding the country's highest office. A constitution can of course be changed, and I hope it is, but it shouldn't be ignored.

And about those names: the Burmese don't have family names, so the lady is Aung San Suu Kyi or, more familiarly, Daw Suu. And the nation was renamed in 1989 by the military dictatorship as the Republic of the Union of Maynmar. "The renaming remains a contested issue," as Wikipedia graciously says. If the new government confirms the change, well and good -- but I hope it doesn't!

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