Aung San Suu Kyi Goes Neoliberal, Attends WEF

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 5/29/2012 04:16:00 PM
For her very first trip out of Myanmar (Burma) in 24 years, Aung San Suu Kyi has made the interesting choice of attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Thailand to be held on 30 May to June 1. While she has been in touch with the WEF organizers in the past, it was only through remote broadcast. Lest you doubt the aptness of my post title, try this for a Washington Consensus flashback c/o the Nobel laureate:
Economic progress is dependent on more than the fiscal and monetary measures that have been advocated for Burma by international financial Institutions. Such measures will need to be up held by judicial and legislative reforms, which will guarantee that sound regulations and laws will be administrated justly and effectively.  
I am not so sure what it means that she's chosen the WEF-Thailand as the first stop on an international tour that will include her finally receiving her Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. After all, alike many others including ASEAN leaders past and present, I have been critical of her insistence that the West apply economic sanctions against Myanmar. So, while the sort of developmental authoritarianism that China has had may have been out of reach, at least the country could have gotten a head start instead of having to begin practically anew nowadays. That is, if she were so keen on attracting foreign investment from the World Economic Forum crowd, why only now?

Some may even justifiably accuse her of having a martyr complex; why did finally being able to run for elections occasion such a change of heart towards foreign investment when other Burmese could have benefited from it all those years ago? These sorts are difficult questions. However, I will soon post more on why I believe that these sanctions ultimately retarded Myanmar's normalization or relations with the rest of the world. (Sorry Klaus Schwab...and Alfred Nobel for that matter.)

6/2 UPDATE 1: Read about her pitch to foreign investors at WEF on Myanmar's jobs "time bomb." It does pain me to say this, but it's basically another "woe is Burma" plea that does not highlight what Myanmar can offer. It's a pity since I believe foreign investment is about offering an attractive business proposition, not charity.

UPDATE 2: There's an even more critical piece in Foreign Policy on how Aung San Suu Kyi lacks management chops aside from having something of a diva complex.