ACT News


Aung San Suu Kyi likely for Canberra

Burma opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to visit Canberra to meet with senior members of the Abbott government during her Australian tour in December.

Planning is under way for Ms Suu Kyi to address large-scale events in Sydney and Melbourne and the pro-democracy campaigner will likely meet new prime minister Tony Abbott and incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop as well as other political leaders.

Professor Damien Kingsbury of Deakin University and the Australia Myanmar Institute said the tour would serve as an opportunity for Ms Suu Kyi to thank Australians who have supported her National League for Democracy before campaigning begins for national elections in 2015.

''She has iconic status, a bit like Nelson Mandela,'' Professor Kingsbury said.

''She is the sort of person that no one can really dislike so she will be warmly welcomed by all.''

In July, Fairfax Media reported Ms Suu Kyi would attend a United Nations conference in Sydney in early December as part of her role as UN campaigner for people living with AIDS. During meetings with outgoing foreign minister Bob Carr, Ms Suu Kyi said she wanted to be in Australia "when the weather is fine and it would be nice to have some time to relax there if possible''. Professor Kingsbury said Ms Suu Kyi was arranging the visit herself and the public engagements would likely be hosted by a number of public institutions and universities.


number of public institutions and universities.

''The Australia Myanmar Institute will be seeking to play a supportive role in that and a number of other institutions have also indicated their specific interest in supporting her visit or assisting in some way,'' he said.

''It may be that the visit to Canberra is at a more formal level but that is not yet clear.''

Ms Suu Kyi's visit follows a four-day tour of Australia by Burma's President Thein Sein in March.

Professor Kingsbury said the coming elections would be toughly contested and were not likely to produce the overwhelming results seen in 1990, when Ms Suu Kyi won in a landslide. ''The National League for Democracy is likely to do well but it is not necessarily going to walk away with 80 per cent of the seats. It is going to be much closer.''