Aung San Suu Kyi visits the BBC World Service with thanks, criticism

Aung San Suu Kyi (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Noted Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, visited the BBC World Service last week. Her visit served, in part, to thank them for their broadcasts, which became a lifeline of information for her during her fifteen-year imprisonment in Burma between 1995 and 2010. Shortwave radio connected her with the outside world in the solitude of her prison years.

Sadly, many of the programs offered by the BBC World Service have been cut since Ms. Suu Kyi’s imprisonment. She voiced a few comments about the cuts:

(Source: BBC World Service)

Ms Suu Kyi’s schedule on Tuesday – her 67th birthday – involved a visit to BBC World Service staff at the new Broadcasting House in central London.

“Because of the BBC, I never lost touch with my people, with the movement for democracy in Burma and with the rest of the world. For that, I would like to thank all of you very sincerely,” she said.

But Ms Suu Kyi also said she was “a little sad” about changes to programming on the World Service.

“I feel that the BBC World Service is not as versatile as it used to be – or perhaps I’m not listening at the right times,” she said.

“There used to be so many different programmes, and every time I listen to it now, it’s news and commentaries. I miss the other old programmes… Bookshelf, Just a Minute, and so many others which I don’t seem to hear now…

“It’s not what it used to be,” she said.

During her four-day tour of the UK, Ms Suu Kyi is due to meet members of the Royal Family and address the UK Parliament.

Of note as well was the praise she showered on veteran British DJ, Dave Lee Travis, whose music request program she called “a jolly good show” for making her world “much more complete. I can relate, at least to some degree: you see, music, it seems, still delights listeners on shortwave.

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