We laud the unconditional release of Myanmar democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi by the junta yesterday and hope to see gradual changes to the country. Reforms should take place and the path to a democratic government and an open economy will augur well not only to Asean but to the people of Myanmar.
However, the march is still a long one. The junta needs to recognise international concern for the country, where social and ethnic problems are closely related to how it is being administered over the last 40 years, even before Suu Kyi came into the picture.
Democracy is the only solution for Myanmar to prosper. A free election must be held soon as to avoid concussion stemming from the the release of Suu Kyi and international pressure for Yangoon to adhere to democratic calls.
While the world lauds Yangoon, her release is still being monitored cautiously as the junta is known to reverse its decision should the pressure applied by the international community is treated as more in Suu Kyi's favor.
This may be all good and well for Aung San and her followers but before the celebrations carry us away we should realise that at any moment the regime can and no doubt will pull the plug and return her back under arrest.
The military regime have still very powerful and influentual backers that need them for their self interests and protect them accordingly. As they have done in the past they release her for their own reasons but watch her carefully and any moves that threaten them they react as they have done.
Not until this regime is removed by democratic reforms will any hope of a better future be possible for the Burmese people and its potential leaders.
Most important is how the United Nations can tag itself along with the junta in convincing them that what Suu Kyi champions is for the betterment of the country and its people.
A little bit about Suu Kyi:
The world knew little about this remarkable woman beyond her name. Now aged 65, she is the most famous political prisoner since Nelson Mandela and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for standing up to the regime.
On Saturday, unbowed and as demure as ever, she was freed from years of house detention. She had been in prison or under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years.
To the adoring crowds 22 years ago when her ordeal started, the name of Suu Kyi was very special. Her father, general Aung San, was Burma's national hero. The reason so many had camped out in the open all night was because they saw in the daughter of this most revered figure in modern Burmese history their greatest hope for change.
Suu Kyi was making a political speech for democracy and freedom at a critical juncture. Burma was in chaos after students had led an uprising against the military. Blood flowed in the streets from the crackdown that followed.
General Ne Win, the hated dictator who had dominated Burma for three decades of economic stagnation and isolation, had resigned. His successor, Sein Lwin, who had ordered troops to open fire on massed demonstrators demanding an end to military rule and the introduction of democracy, had also quit.
It was hoped that Burma's third president in a few weeks, Maung Maung, would make concessions. It turned out to be a vain hope. Burma is still in chains. Suu Kyi's speech that day, though, was a defining moment in her life. It marked the instant when she turned her back on her comfortable life in Britain and returned to her roots.
Asia has had its share of family dynasties, but nowhere has the idealism and sense of duty been as strong and principled as in the case of Suu Kyi, who that day took the heartbreaking decision to put her commitment to Burma above her family.
Until a few months before, she had been an Oxford housewife, living happily with her husband, academic Michael Aris and their two children Alexander and Kim, in a smart town house. Now she was deliberately entering the brutal and devious world of Burmese politics.
She has never emerged from it. Her lonely vigil, which began with her addressing the crowds that day in 1988 challenging the generals, has continued unbroken to this day, much of it under house arrest and at a tragic personal cost.
For as well as a political story, Suu Kyi's is ultimately a family tragedy. She arrived at Oxford in 1964 to study philosophy, politics and economics. Her contemporaries remember her beauty, a flower always in her long dark hair.
Aris met her at the university and courted her on a holiday in Bhutan, where he was teaching. At their wedding, Kipling's poem Mandalay was recited: "I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land! On the road to Mandalay."
Aung San was assassinated in 1947, on the threshold of gaining independence for Burma from Britain. Aged two, his daughter was too young to have known him. But she cherishes the photo she has of him holding her in his arms and, although she had left Burma at 15, she was never allowed to forget she was his daughter.
On that day in August 1988 she told the adoring crowd that the political uprising was a "second struggle for national independence" and, as Aung San's daughter, she could not remain indifferent.
And that's how it started....
read more about her here...