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Burma’s opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said on Sunday, reconciliation was needed between the military and political groups and not just between ethnic groups for the country to move forward.
Speaking to students and faculty at an event at the Singapore Management University she emphasised that dialogue with ethnic groups was not the only sort of discussion needed in Burma now.
“National reconciliation is at the centre of our aspirations. And by national reconciliation, we did not simply mean reconciliation between the ethnic nationalities of Burma, as a lot of people seem to have imagined,” said Suu Kyi.
“But reconciliation between the military regime, and those who wanted democracy.”
Suu Kyi went on to say that a political dialogue was the best way to move forward.
“I think in the end, the best way for leaders with differing views to work together for the country, is to sit together and talk,” she said.
Earlier on Sunday, an estimated 5,800 Burmese nationals turned up in traditional attire and t-shirts emblazoned with her portrait at an event organized by the Myanmar Club Singapore.
After receiving an emotional welcome and a standing ovation, Suu Kyi, speaking in Burmese, urged her compatriots in Singapore to consider returning home or to “find some way” to give back to the country.
“She said everyone is waiting for her to become president before returning to Burma, but that she cannot become president if we don’t come back and help,” said 21-year-old student Myat Kaung Min.
Zaw Lei Win, a 28-year-old nurse from Burma, said, “Of course it is an emotional moment for many of us. Today, after seeing The Lady in Singapore for the first time, I feel proud to be [from] Myanmar,”
Zaw Tun Henry, the president of Myanmar Club Singapore, said 68-year-old Suu Kyi was most concerned about the future plans of Burmese students attending Singaporean universities.
In a private meeting with them before her Sunday speech, he said she urged them to return home “to give back to the mother country” after their studies.
“She said, ‘Don’t wait until there are good conditions in Myanmar, you come back and [make the] change’,” he said.
There are no official statistics on the size of the Burmese diaspora in Singapore, but Zaw Tun Henry estimated the community to be about 150,000-strong.