Aung San Suu Kyi being filmed by a camera crew

How Did Aung San Suu Kyi Win So Big?

Monday 25th April 2016, 6.00 - 7.30pm; Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
Speaker: Peter Popham; Chair: Dr Jurgen Haacke

A woman in a highly macho political culture; perceived by many as at least half-foreign because of her husband and her years abroad; dogged in the West by charges of being soft on Buddhist fascists and at home with being sweet towards Muslims; increasingly accused by the press of being high-handed and out of touch; an amateur politician who has never run anything: this was Aung San Suu Kyi last November. Yet, she and her National League for Democracy swept all before them in the polls, reducing the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party to a rump and triumphing even in ethnic areas like Kachin state where she has for years been attacked as a Burman chauvinist.

In this talk Peter Popham will seek to identify the secrets of her phenomenal achievement: including the trust, identification and outright love of millions of Burmese, on account of her years under house arrest; a personality cult based on beauty and worldwide fame; and, not least, the ruthless egotism of a woman with a raging hunger for the highest office. He will then consider how these factors are likely to impact her effectiveness as Burma’s ruler.

Copies of The Lady and the General, Popham's newest book, will be available for purchase at the event and Popham will be available for book signing after the lecture.

Download and listen to the podcast here



Peter Popham is the author of the best-selling The Lady and the Peacock, a biography of Aung San Suu Kyi. A foreign correspondent and commentator with The Independent, he covered South Asia (including Burma) for a period in the late 90s and has toured Burma as an undercover journalist. Popham interviewed Suu Kyi when she was released from house arrest in 2002, and met her again in 2011 and 2015.


Jurgen Haacke

Jurgen Haacke is Associate Professor of International Relations at LSE, and Centre Associate at the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre.