But is Suu Kyi’s apparent authoritarian streak mere caution? Expanding civil liberties too forcefully could bait the former junta into retaking full control of the Southeast Asian nation, setting back the cause of liberty and democracy.
Prior to becoming Myanmar’s state counselor – the de-facto head of government – Suu Kyi was considered a hero among Western democrats due to her role as a leader during the 1988 uprisings against the military-run government, which resulted in her being placed under house arrest repeatedly from 1989 until 2010. In 1991, she won the Nobel Peace prize for her efforts. Now, however, that image has been sullied.
“Despite hopes a Suu Kyi-led government would improve press freedom conditions in Myanmar, the situation for reporters has not materially improved over the previous military and military-backed regimes,” says Shawn Crispin, the Committee to Protect Journalist’s Southeast Asia senior representative. “It’s been eye-opening for anyone who remembers her as a pro-democracy icon standing up to military power.” RTWT