Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi set to arrive in Bangkok

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BANGKOK, May 29 – Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to arrive in Bangkok on Tuesday night to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia, her first foreign trip in more than two decades.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is due to arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 9.45pm Tuesday before going to stay at the Shangri-La Hotel where the WEF will take place.

On Wednesday, she will start her day, going to Thailand’s seaside province of Samut Sakhon, southwest of Bangkok and home to many Myanmar migrants, the primary labour force in the fisheries industry there.

Her trip, to see the living and working conditions of Myanmar migrant workers, was proposed by the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF).

According to the HRDF, there are 210,000 registered Myanmar labourers and about 100,000 others unregistered. Most of them work in the fisheries, farming and furniture manufacturing industries.

Preeyaporn Khankamnerd, foundation coordinator, said infringement of migrant workers’ rights prevails and practically, most of them do not effectively have the same rights as they are entitled to be equal as Thai workers, such as in getting the same daily minimum wage.

On Wednesday morning, the HRDF will lead the Myanmar opposition leader to visit the National Verification Center, the Aur Arthon Housing Project, the shrimp market and the Migrant Worker Rights Network learning centre in Mahachai Villa.

She will return to Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia which will run from May 30 to June 1.

On June 1, Suu Kyi will speak on a 30-minute slot during the One-on-One Conversation with a Leader, which will be one of the event’s highlights before joining the session “Asian Women as the Way Forward” dealing with how the political and economic empowerment of women can contribute to the long-term growth of East Asian economies.

The Myanmar opposition leader is due to meet her Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party later but the exact time has not been confirmed.

On June 2, she will take visit the Mae La refugee camp, a temporary shelter for some 40,000 Myanmar-originated displaced persons mainly of Karen ethnicity in Tak province and will meet ethnic leaders as well as a volunteer doctor Cynthia Maung, who has worked tirelessly to treat migrants from Myanmar along the border at the Mae Taeng clinic in Mae Sot municipality.

Suu Kyi is scheduled to return home in Rangoon on Sunday.

Her trip to Bangkok comes ahead of a planned trip to Europe in mid-June to Geneva and Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize she won 21 years ago and in England, she will also address both houses of Parliament in a rare honour event. She will celebrate her 67th birthday on June 19 in England where her youngest son Kim Aris lives.

The Nobel laureate spent 15 years in detention before being released from house arrest in Nov 2010. Ms Suu Kyi, chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a by-election for parliament last month and has taken her seat in the country’s parliament.