Burmese political leader, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi was engaged in an afternoon's dialogue and interaction with members of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the public across a broad set of contemporary issues through a televised transmission from Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi is the eighth speaker in HKU's Centenary Distinguished Lectures. This is also the first time she accepts the invitation of an Asian university to conduct a dialogue since her release from house arrest last November. Over 1,800 guests have registered for the event.
In her opening speech, Aung San Suu Kyi shared her views on education, which should "foster values that will promote human dignity and guide human progress in a positive direction. "
She said: "Education should be a true learning process, not a machine for churning out meek, obedient people incapable of reasoning why justice and liberty should not be the birthright of all human beings.
The highest form of learning would be that which makes us caring and responsible citizens of this world, and equips us with the intellectual means necessary to translate our concerns into specific deeds."
She said such a view of learning has been in harmony with the idea of education as conceived in the motto of the University of Hong Kong - Wisdom and Virtue.
"One hundred years of furnishing the world with young people who have been provided with the capacity to think independently, to express those thoughts cogently, and to use them for the betterment of our world is an achievement of which this University can be justly proud. The hopes of its founding fathers have been more than realized. " She added.
HKU Vice-Chancellor Professor Lap-Chee Tsui thanked the lady for her graciousness in agreeing to take part in the Dialogue.
"Throughout her life, Daw Suu has been a firm believer in the importance of education and the value of universities as spaces for individual and social transformation." Professor Tsui said HKU and the lady have been sharing the same belief.
"As a university, HKU has the tradition for scholars and students to think critically, independently, and, freely. The University stands for the right to freedom of expression, collective thinking and peaceful discussion. It underscores the power of positive and cooperative reinforcement. These are principles HKU has always stood for and continues to uphold, as rooted in the University's Motto." He added.
At the end of the lecture, Professor Ian Holliday, HKU Dean of Social Sciences who is in Burma for the Dialogue, presented to the lady a calligraphy by renowned contemporary sinologist Professor Jao Tsung-I. The calligraphy「如蓮華在水」, or "Like a lotus flower floating on the water" in English, symbolizes the purity of the heart of Aung San Suu Kyi, an human rights and peace advocate, as not tainted by the secular world, just like the purity of a lotus flower as it grows from the mud untainted.
HKU's Centenary Distinguished Lectures are presented as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2011 -2012 with an aim to bring to the University eminent scholars and their world-class scholarship. The current lecture has been organized by HKU's Faculty of Social Sciences, panelists included Professor Ian Holliday, HKU Head of Department of Politics and Public Administration Professor Joseph Chan and writer and commentator Mr Frank Ching.
For the calligraphy of Professor Jao Tsung-i and explanations, please visit: http://www.cpao.hku.hk/media/110530.jpg
For the transcript of Aung San Suu Kyi's speech, please visit: http://www.cpao.hku.hk/media/ASSKeng.pdf
For the transcript of Professor Lap-Chee Tsui's speech, please visit: http://www.cpao.hku.hk/media/VC.pdf
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About Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is a leading Burmese politician and opposition figurehead. Daughter of independence hero General Aung San, she spent many adult years living quietly in Oxford with husband Michael Aris and sons Alexander and Kim.
In the early months of 1988, however, she returned to her native Burma to care for her ailing mother, and soon became caught up in mass protests known to the world as the 8-8-88 uprising.
Her first major political speech, delivered at Rangoon's landmark Shwedagon Pagoda at the end of August 1988, immediately established her leadership of a diverse democratic movement of students, monks, workers and ordinary citizens.
Although the revolt was crushed in September 1988, she led the National League for Democracy to a landslide electoral triumph in a May 1990 general election.
By this point, though, military leaders had reasserted control, Aung San Suu Kyi herself was held under house arrest, and the country now named Myanmar moved not to build democracy, but rather to consolidate authoritarianism. Only after a tightly-managed November 2010 general election was any attempt made to sponsor political reform through a system of discipline-flourishing democracy closely supervised by senior military figures.
In the period from 1989 to 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi was subjected to three terms of house arrest totaling more than 15 years. Her most recent release came several days after the 2010 election, enabling her to work again for the broad-based national reconciliation and vibrant democracy she has long espoused.
For her fierce commitment to these causes, Aung San Suu Kyi has been accorded widespread international recognition. She was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 1992, and across the decades since has continued to garner global attention as an icon of freedom, democracy and non-violent political change.
About the Dialogue
As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2011-2012, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) is proud to present a series of Centenary Distinguished Lectures by some of the world's most brilliant minds.
Aung San Suu Kyi is the eighth speaker in the series.
This lecture will be conducted in the form of a live dialogue. Aung San Suu Kyi will speak to and interact with members of HKU and the Hong Kong public through televised transmissions from Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi is known throughout the world not only for her role as a Burmese opposition leader, but also for her writings on contemporary political issues and her strong belief in education as a force for social change.
In Freedom from Fear, initially published in 1991, she set down the doctrine of non-violent resistance to authoritarianism that has always been her hallmark. In that book and others she also examined the political role of Buddhism, and described the spiritual values that continue to inform her political philosophy.
At the same time, she donated US$1 million awarded for her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize to Prospect Burma, an educational charity supporting Burmese students in universities around the world. In this way, she clearly signaled the depth of her commitment to higher education.
This Centenary Dialogue will range across the many themes that define Aung San Suu Kyi's political profile and engagement, enabling one of the world's great humanitarian leaders to discuss a broad set of contemporary issues of interest to individuals of all races, creeds and generations.
In a context of resurgent Asia, it will provide a platform for one of the region's most distinctive political figures to examine the challenges that confront Burma, its partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and its vast neighbours China and India.