Bangkok: Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi basked in a long-overdue standing ovation at her first speech before an international audience on Friday, but quickly shifted the focus from herself to Myanmar`s many needs and how the world can help.
Despite recently emerging from 24 years of isolation, the former political prisoner appeared completely at ease speaking to the World Economic Forum in Bangkok where she urged the international community to exercise "healthy skepticism" toward Myanmar`s much-touted reform process.
It is not the first time that Suu Kyi has called for caution in the world`s approach to Myanmar, but it is the first time she has uttered the sentiment on foreign soil since becoming her country`s democracy crusader in 1988. The speech was broadcast live across several time zones.
The Oxford graduate and long time political prisoner also delighted the audience with an anecdote about her arrival in Bangkok on her first international flight in decades.
"The captain was so very kind as to invite me to sit in the cockpit," she said with a smile. At first she marveled at the high-tech control panel but then was "completely fascinated by the lights" of modern Bangkok sprawled out below her.
Next month, the 66-year-old Suu Kyi will see how much Europe has changed, too, with visits to five countries including England and Norway, where she will formally accept her Nobel Peace Prize, 21 years after winning it.
Klaus Schwab, the forum`s founder, introduced her as "one of the most extraordinary personalities of this century."
Suu Kyi spent 15 out of 22 years locked under house arrest by the former military regime, during which time she occasionally spoke to the outside world through audio and video messages. She was granted freedom after Myanmar held elections in 2010 and was elected to Parliament in April.
She kicked off her international tour this week.
The mission of her travels is to discuss how the world can help "that little piece of the world that some of us call Burma and some of us call Myanmar," she said.
Dressed in pale blue silk with a strand of white flowers in her hair, Suu Kyi listed the country`s most essential needs as basic education and vocational training to foster political reforms and jobs to end high unemployment among the young, who have little to do in life and not much hope.