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Suu Kyi seeks international help to build Myanmar

London: Citing recent changes in Myanmar, democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi today cautioned that "too many people are expecting too much" from her country and sought the help of the international community and her alma mater to build the road ahead "inch by difficult inch".

Addressing the Oxford University at the traditional ceremony Encaenia in which Suu Kyi and eight others were honoured with honorary doctorates, she appealed for help to build the road ahead "inch by difficult inch". She said that "too many people are expecting too much" from her country. Describing the day in Oxford as "moving", Suu Kyi was awarded the honorary doctorate in Civil Law.

Suu Kyi, who turned 67 on Tuesday, was described by Chancellor Chris Patten as a "star shining in the east, the light of her countrymen," and given a prolonged standing ovation. Reiterating her appeal for help with the provision that any form of investment in the country needed to be "democracy- friendly and human rights-friendly", Suu Kyi said her people wanted Myanmar to become like "a bit of Oxford-ian Shangri La".

"The saddest part in recent times has been a lack of campus life in my country. Our young people have not had the freedom of campus life. I would like the University of Oxford to help restore campus life," she said. Recalling her days in Oxford, which she considered her home after studying and living there with her family, Suu Kyi said the "precious memories" provided her with the inner resource to face the challenges in the last 24 years.

The oration conferring her the honorary doctorate said: "There is little need of words; for today the line of honorands is led by one whose presence among us speaks more eloquently than any language. "We honour her with trumpets, procession and applause, but all this magnificence would mean nothing were it not the outward expression of the hope and admiration deep within us. This we say to her: `Of necessity, your return here is a public event, observed by many eyes, but we do not forget that you are also coming back to your old home and to a city full of memories," the oration said.

"Here you studied and formed friendships, here you knew the delights of youth, here as a wife and mother you lived a quiet domestic life, until your love of country and passion for the cause of freedom summoned you back; but you were forced to leave behind a beloved husband and children, so that your return to your native land was made into a kind of exile".

For many years you bore the burden of isolation, displaying patience and endurance to a degree not easily imagined. We hail you with joy as you appear in Oxford once more; as for yourself, we do not know what mixture of emotions you feel, and it would be impertinent to intrude on them. "But this we declare: your silence has sounded louder than the jabber of politics and the clang of military power; out of deep darkness your little lamp has shone across the planet; your stillness has moved the world.

"Sitting in this theatre, we are conscious that we are also spectators of a drama played in the theatre of the nations, one whose ending is as yet unsure. And so for now we wait and hope and pray." Admitting her to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law, the chancellor described her as "unbowed champion of liberty, who have given your people and the whole world an example of courage and endurance".

There was some irony in the ceremony honouring her: Suu Kyi, who studied at the St Hugh`s College in Oxford, left in 1967 with a third-class degree in philosophy, politics and economics. Suu Kyi is scheduled to meet Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign secretary William Hague, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall tomorrow. She will address parliament in the Westminster Palace in the afternoon.

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