Aung San Suu Kyi launches health and education foundation

Aung San Suu Kyi has formally launched the Suu Foundation, a humanitarian organisation dedicated to advancing the health and education of the people of Myanmar.

The Foundation is designed to be an intermediary linking supporters in the international community with the people of Myanmar and is co-chaired by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former White House first lady Laura Bush.

The Suu Foundation was formally launched at an event in Myanmar on Sunday which brought together over 300 local and international media.

The foundation is also set to become a partner of PublicAffairsAsia’s SharingValueAsia forum, an initiative aimed at promoting greater understanding of public private partnership in Asia Pacific.

Commenting on the foundation’s launch, Clinton said: “The people are seizing the opportunity to make a better and brighter future for their families, their communities and their country. We know there are tremendous social, political economic and development challenges ahead. But by investing in health and education we can help bridge the social divide to help build the peaceful and prosperous future that the people of this great land so richly deserve.”

The Suu Foundation will focus on improving healthcare and supporting education in the country of Myanmar and Suu Kyi will use the platform to rally the international community to support the development of Myanmar, which has been isolated from the rest of the world for the past several decades.

The organisation says the Suu Foundation’s immediate goal is the restoration of the University of Yangon and Yangon General Hospital, which “will serve as the symbol of Myanmar’s development in education and healthcare”.

Media focus: Free press and free society

The foundation was launched during the East-West Center’s International Media Conference on “Challenges of a Free Press” in Yangon, Myanmar. Actress Michelle Yeoh, who portrayed Suu Kyi in the film “The Lady” and serves on the foundation’s board of directors, also spoke at the luncheon event.

At the launch, Suu Kyi, a strong democracy advocate who spent years under political house arrest but is now an elected member of the national assembly, added that a free press would be vital to secure Myanmar’s political transition.

Noting that a long journey lies ahead for the country, she said: “We would like our media to help us in this quest to lay the foundations for a society, for a nation, which is not just for us, today, but for generations to come.”

Without a free press to check those who are in power, she said, “we will not be able to defend the rights and freedoms of the people”. “But at the same time, this press has to be aware not just of its great power and influence, but of the great responsibility that it bears for the building of a new nation that is centered on the will of the people,” she added.

She cautioned that the press has an inherent obligation to its citizens and should not overlook its duties to the public. “Greater freedom demands greater responsibility,” she said. “It is one of my greatest concerns that people not look upon democracy as a system that gives unlimited rights to them but does not demand equal responsibility back.”

For more on the foundation visit the website.

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