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Burma’s rulers and elite are believed to vent their dislike of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi through “constant” discussion of sexual innuendo concerning the Nobel laureate, leaked US diplomatic cables report.
The cable quotes a “well connected” businessman who says that figures at the “highest level” of government “can’t stand” Suu Kyi and therefore frequently engage in the practice.
“It is clear GOB [Government of Burma] leaders will simply not accept ASSK [Aung San Suu Kyi] having any leading role in Burmese politics,” the 23 September 2009 dispatch continues.
The US embassy source is named as Khin Maung Win, owner of MSP Limited, purportedly a construction company that does contract work for the government and its cronies. At the time it was seeking to become the US engineering firm Caterpillar’s operator in Burma, via its Indian subsidiary.
The animosity towards Suu Kyi on a political level will come as no surprise, although the puerile nature of Burma’s rulers will remain a worry given the cast list appears to have changed little since the cable was sent. At the time President Thein Sein, who met for the first time with Suu Kyi recently, was prime minister and thus operated at the “highest levels” in Naypyidaw, while the government’s top figures today all held senior positions in the former ruling junta.
The cable, which perhaps reflects the opposition leader’s current predicament on the sidelines of Burma’s political arena, adds: “At most, the senior leadership might allow ASSK to have some sort of ‘parallel’ role, but with no actual political say in governance.”
The reference to innuendo is reminiscent of the former Hong Kong consul general, Ye Myint Aung, who in 2009, when US citizen John Yettaw broke into Suu Kyi’s house, suggested that he was her “boyfriend”. This, and other remarks, such as the racially-charged accusation that the Rohingya ethnic minority were “ugly as ogres”, prefixed Ye Myint Aung’s posting to the role of UN spokesperson in Geneva for the new regime.
Khin Ohmar, of the Women’s League of Burma (WLB), states that this reflects a deep-rooted cultural “chauvinism” amongst Burma’s rulers, who fear the popular democratic icon and who lack any form of popular support themselves.
Moreover, the taboo of a Burmese woman marrying a foreigner is, Ohmar feels, used “regularly” to attempt to undermine her position.
This may be reflected in an allegation of academic Dr Maung Zarni, who told DVB that spies in former spy chief and Prime Minister Khin Nyunt’s Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence (DDSI) even wanted to plant hidden cameras in Suu Kyi’s residence in an attempt to defame her. This was overruled by Khin Nyunt.
Zarni also said that “sexist slurs” are used by the government “in order to destroy their critics.”
The cable also says that “nobody in the elites,” including in the business community, “would support [Suu Kyi]”, perhaps reflecting perhaps the source’s more personal opinions.
It finishes however with the US Charges d’Affaires Larry Dinger’s personal summary of the source. “His regime-oriented, anti-ASSK perspective on politics is indicative of a number of private-sector beneficiaries of the current system … We expect many, especially the poor and disenfranchised, have a very different perspective.”