Friday, January 28, 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi Speaks! Who Listens?

The World Economic Forum in Davos generously provide Aung San Suu Kyi with a place on their program.  Needless to say, she could not attend the event;  but she sent an audio message that was played to the delegates.  The transcript of that speech is now available on the BBC News Web site.  Given the sort of behavior that now occupies most of our politicians, at the very least her text should be studied as an object lesson in how one can make one’s points without sacrificing civil discourse.  Furthermore, she engaged the usual rhetorical strategy of making sure that what matters most was the last thing the delegates heard:

I would like to request those who have invested or who are thinking of investing in Burma to put a premium on respect for the law ,on environmental and social factors, on the rights of workers, on job creation and on the promotion of technological skills.

Such an approach would not only be in line with a global sense of responsibility, it would lead in the long run to greater benefits for all concerned. I look forward to the day when there will be a political and social environment that is favourable to a wide range of investments in Burma. We are certainly in need of innovation and diversification if our country is to fulfil the aspirations of its people and catch up with the rest of the world.

I would like to appeal to all those present at this gathering to use their particular opportunities and skills as far as possible to promote national reconciliation, genuine democratization, human development and economic growth in Burma that our people may in turn be able make their own contribution towards a safer happier world.

Will this have any effect?  I tend to be pessimistic, but I have to remember that these are the words of a woman who has decades of experience in trying to talk to people determined not to listen.

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