In a new book, The Lady And The Generals, British journalist and author Peter Popham has revealed details of a BBC interview in 2013 that brought out an almost racist and pretty un-ladylike remark from ‘The Lady’.
For remaining under house arrest for 15 years, and relentlessly championing the cause of democracy in her native Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has attained an almost iconic status in the West, as well as in much of the world, even receiving a Nobel Prize in recognition of her struggle.
However, skeptical detractors count her as one of the many ‘unworthy’ recipients of the honour, citing her complete silence on the plight of Rohingya Muslims in her country as blatant apathy that has exposed her as being a mere politician, working for the sole end of gaining power.
In the book, Peter Popham describes how Suu Kyi went on the defensive when Pakistani-origin BBC presenter Mishal Hussain grilled her on the ongoing violence against the Rohingyas, pressing her to condemn their massacre. The Burmese leader refused to do so, taking an equivocal position that Buddhists were also suffering, in spite of Hussain quoting stats that proved the suffering was in no way ‘balanced’. In an off-camera remark showing her extreme annoyance at the audacity of Mishal Hussain, Suu Kyi inquires why “no one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim”. One wonders, if she had been told, would the human-rights icon have refused the interview?
In any case, kudos to Ms. Hussain for doing her job as an outstanding journalist by refusing to be awestruck and asking relevant, hard-hitting questions that deserve an answer.