Aung San Suu Kyi told supporters yesterday in Pegu, the first stop on her political tour of the country, that she would work hard to fulfil their wishes for a democratic Burma but that she did not want to give a “false hope”.
Thousands of cheering admirers turned out to greet the pro-democracy icon when she arrived in Pegu town yesterday. Myat Hla, who was elected to parliament in the 1990 polls, said that as many as 50,000 people were on the streets of the town, among them government officials.
“We were kind of doubtful when we first saw [government officials at the scene] but they enthusiastically assisted in security matters,” he said, adding that Suu Kyi was greeted by a police commander who offered her a cup of tea upon arrival in Pegu.
“Looking at this, we assume that relations between the government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are getting better,” he said. “But we’ll have to wait and see to what extent this is true.”
The visit to Pegu marks Suu Kyi’s first ‘political’ trip since May 2003, when she travelled to Burma’s central region of Mandalay. That tour however ended with the bloody Depayin massacre in which a government-backed mob attacked her convoy, killing around 70 supporters.
She was subsequently placed under house arrest, according to the government in order to protect her, and released in November last year.
Since her release, the now nominally civilian government has made a number of overtures that some observers suggest signals a break from its historic attempts to sideline the hugely influential opposition figure.
On Friday last week she met again with Burma’s Labour Minister Aung Kyi, following an initial meeting last month. She told journalists following the talks focused on cooperation, a sentiment echoed by Aung Kyi.
“All these factors are under the banner of cooperation, [which is] the main problem that we need to deal with for our country,” the New Light of Myanmar quoted Aung Kyi as saying. “We are now dealing with it. At a time when that problem is solved, the remaining issues would be corollaries of the main problem. So, as these results would be [sic] come out, that situation would be solved easily.”
Details of Suu Kyi’s next move are unclear, but over the past three months she has made several mentions of a nationwide political tour, following seven years confined to her lakeside house in Rangoon.