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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    3 June 2012

Suu Kyi’s historic trip abroad concludes

3 June, 2012

Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday won the hearts and minds of nearly 50,000 Myanmar refugees during her visit to the Mae La camp in Tak province, northern Thailand.

Suu Kyi, Myanmar's opposition leader, pledged to help remedy healthcare and education problems inside the huge camp, while urging sponsors of the facility to review their plans to cut its funding.

Withdrawing financial support would adversely affect the welfare and quality of life of the 49,000 Myanmar refugees, who come from various ethnic groups, she said.

Financial backers should reconsider their budget-cutting plans, as the European Union is moving to reduce financial support for the camp due to the euro-zone crisis.

During her visit to Mae La camp, which is in Mae Sot district about 10 km from the border with Myanmar, several thousand refugees continuously shouted "Mae Suu, Mae Suu" (Mother Suu).

Suu Kyi said after visiting the shelters that she will discuss ways of increasing quality of life and boosting support to refugees with organisations in her country involved with their welfare, as well as with international organisations.

However, she said she had no plan to discuss the issue with the Myanmar government yet. She said that the plan to visit refugees was her initiative and that her party has put the issue on its agenda.

Suu Kyi thanked Thailand for helping the Myanmar refugees.

"The major concern of refugees is that they want to ensure that they would not be forgotten by their home country," Suu Kyi said, adding that she hopes these refugees will someday have a chance to go home.

When asked about Myanmar President Thein Sein's decision to cancel his plan to visit Thailand, Suu Kyi said she didn't know the reason for the cancellation.

Suu Kyi's visit to Bangkok to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia on Thursday and Friday was her first overseas trip in 24 years.

This month she will travel to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize she won while she was under house arrest in 1991.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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