MY first impression of Aung San Suu Kyi was that she had amazing grace. Wearing a lilac longyi and matching blouse, she had walked in briskly with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a Yangon hotel to jointly address the media in April this year. She may have looked frail but she was certainly not a shrinking violet. She had a magnetic inner calm. She came across as a self-assured leader who knew what she wanted and where she was headed.
Manmohan Singh’s visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 25 years, happened at a time when Myanmar was poised for a historic transition. Major winds of change were blowing across India’s eastern neighbour, signaling the gradual return of democratic forces after a hiatus of two decades with Suu Kyi finding herself once again at the vortex.
A month before Suu Kyi met the Indian Prime Minister, she and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), for the first time since 1990 contested a Parliament byelection, winning all 45 seats that had fallen vacant in the 664-strong legislature. She was then permitted to go abroad to receive her Nobel Peace Prize that she had won in 1991.