AJA picks Aung San Suu Kyi and Malala Yousafzai as Asians of 2012

Asian journalist Association (AJA) has picked Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar opposition leader, and Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani human right activist, as Asians of 2012 Thursday (Dec. 27). Suu Kyi has devoted herself to the democratization of her country under the oppresion of the military regime and contributed greatly to the opening of Myanmar to outside world. She efforts have born fruit and enabled herself to be elected a member of parliament, resuming her political activities full-fledgedly.

Yousafzai who bravely confronted Talibans for women’s right of being educated, was shot by Talban militants on her way home from school in Pakistan. The teenager girl spoke out the importance of women’s education at the risk of her life.

The brilliant activities of both women have made people realize women’s leadership as being the spirit of the time.
AJA, represented by Ivan Lim, and The AsiaN announced Thursday the result of the screening for the selection that had been made by some  24 Asian journalists including 10 Koreans since the middle of November.

In the meantime, The Straits Times in Singaport has picked Gen. Thein Sein of Myanmar  the Asian of 2012 for breaking ranks with the autocratic military to free Aung San Suu Kyi and to set his country on a new and promising democratic path.

AJA president Ivan Lim, a Singaporean journalist, commented that “Would the military junta have released their iron-grip on power without Suu Kyi?

Not a whisper of a chance as seen by the Tatmadaw crushing of the opposition, including the 1990 election won by Suu Kyi-led National League of Democracy.

Then the military under pressure had toyed with the idea of following the Indonesian example of Suharto of keeping hold on power under a guided democracy framework, complete with elections.This, supposedly, at the advice of some elder statesman of an Asean country.”

“Even that eventually came to nought as the proponent of the model was ousted by his army colleagues fearful of any systems change. Meanwhile international pressure was stepped up on the Myanmar junta through diplomacy and economic sanctions. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, US Congress Gold Medal and other accolades, Suu Kyi stands as a potent symbol for democracy that could not be ignored by the generals for too long,” Lim said.

He continued that “the Myanmar regime had taken seriously the threat of possible Western-led regime change was seen by its relocating its administrative capital to Naypyidaw, 320 km north of the old capital, Yangon. Suu Kyi, 65, belongs to the  category of those who achieved greatness through suffering and sacrifices. For her opposition to the generals, she had endured 15 years of house arrest and privation as her family was barred from visiting her.”

Lim also said “Little Malala Yousafzair who stood up to the Taleban in Pakistan shares this attribute of selflessness for a cause.

The 15year-old schoolgirl has dared to speak up, including to the BBC in a blog, against the Taleban ban on education for girls. Despite the threats to her life, she has not been cowed. Malala paid a heavy price in October when she was shot in the head by Taleban assassins to silence her.”

Plucky Malala is recovering from her injuries at a British hospital. She is an inspiration to her peers and others, both at home and abroad, and fully deserves the accolade of young crusader against obscurantism and repression.

Norila Daud, AJA vice president, said “I appreciate Aung San Suu Kyi’s nomination as she is the “mother of democracy” in the Asian region. She is a very dedicated and dynamic leader as she believes what she feels the right way to contribute and help Myanmar grow and prosper like the neighboring ASEAN countries. Even  though she had been under house arrest for years but her devotion to open up Myanmar to the world has never died and today she proves to the world that she had made it the way she wants it to be.”

She went on to say that “with the world’s support especially the leaders in South East Asia and Asia as a whole and also with the assistance of President Obama has also speed up the processes of “democracy” the Myanmar way. After a long struggle, at last she made herself through to be one of the legitimize leaders   of Myanmar. Today we are proud of her and welcomes Myanmar as one of the ASEAN compatriot to fight for more economic freedom and prosperity in Myanmar and the region as a whole.”

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