Aung San Suu Kyi told the forum there is too much focus on Burma’s economic reforms and not enough on political ones.
“Even the best investment law would be of no use what so ever, if there are no courts that are clean enough and independent enough to be able to administer those laws justly. This is our problem and so far we have not been aware of any reforms on the judicial front.”
She urged responsible investment in Burma to help create jobs, calling youth unemployment a time bomb.
“We do not want investment to mean greater inequality. We do not want corruption to mean greater privileges for the already privileged. We want investment to mean, quite simply, jobs, as many jobs as possible. It’s as simple as that.”
Over the years, Burma’s poor economy and unemployment have let migrant workers to seek opportunity in Thailand where about 2 million now live.
“I really want to see Aung San Suu Kyi. So I don’t care for the punishment for my absence from work. It’s a rare opportunity to see her, maybe once in a life time.”
Meeting with the Burmese migrant and refugee community was a top priority of her first trip outside Burma in 24 years.
But her presence among 600 business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum drew the most attention.
Helene Gayle is President and CEO of CARE, a U.S-based aid organization and co-chair of the forum.
“What she is doing by being here is incredibly significant. It begins that opportunity for a dialogue that I think will be very important for Burma, but also for the rest of this region.”
The Vahu Development Institute’s Aung Thu Nyein backs up Aung San Suu Kyi’s focus on jobs because he says most foreign investment in Burma is still centered on extracting natural resources.
“This is my biggest concern, you know. The investment just pouring into the country will be working mostly on that extractive service sectors , rather than, you know, to employee people in the country and you know to develop the system of the country.”
With Aung San Suu Kyi in parliament and now traveling the world stage, Burma’s aspirations for improvement now have a well- respected voice.