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Jakarta Post

Will Indonesia ever grow a Steel Orchid?

  • Julia Suryakusuma

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 18 2012   /  08:07 am

First we had Margaret Thatcher as the “Iron Lady”. Now we have the “Steel Orchid”, as Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is sometimes called. For decades, she was one of the world’s most famous prisoners of conscience. Virtually a modern-day saint, she is certainly a democracy icon. An embodiment of courage, grace and determination, she is a symbol of hope and freedom for her people.

But a warning is needed: If you watch The Lady — the sumptuous biopic and celebration of Suu Kyi, starring Michelle Yeoh — bring a towel. I had to make do with my shawl to wipe the tears streaming down my face. It’s a very moving film and my own emotions were heightened due to the parallels I saw with Indonesia, as well as my deep empathy, as a woman, for Suu Kyi plight.

The Aug. 8, 1988, “8888” uprising in Myanmar was reminiscent of the May 1998 riots in Indonesia,...