Only so much Suu Kyi can do

It is easy to blame Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for not doing enough on the Rohingya crisis (Aung San Suu Kyi a big letdown, by Mr Ramamurthy Mahesh Kumar; Sept 22).

But we have to understand that there is only so much she can do. She has to manoeuvre tactfully, as the military still holds much power in the government.

The Rohingya issue has a long history, involving insurgencies, trespassing, massacres, attempted separatist movements and deep-rooted mistrust.

This issue is more complicated when outside forces and the international media meddle in it.

Ms Suu Kyi has made it clear that both the Rakhine and Rohingya communities have been affected by the conflict.

However, for her to side with either one would create more problems than solutions.

Last year, she set up the Rakhine Commission, led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, to examine the complex challenges facing Rakhine state and to propose responses to them.

This was a bold move, taken amid very strong opposition from various nationalist groups on letting foreigners interfere in the country's internal affairs.

Ms Suu Kyi has inherited a decades-old issue. She may be the de facto head of government, but her power is limited, as the Constitution gives the armed forces control over the military budget and over ministries related to security.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2017, with the headline 'Only so much Suu Kyi can do'. Print Edition | Subscribe