Suu Kyi on Fighting Corruption


After her speech at Yale University on 27 September, Myanmar democracy leader Aung Suu Kyi was asked what kept her going during her years of house arrest. Suu Kyi, who is Buddhist, said “inner resources” and a focus on others is needed to face adversity. Suu Kyi was under house arrest for 15 years from her first incarceration in 1989 until she was released in 2010. During her incarceration she became one of the most prominent political prisoners in the world. In April of this year she was elected to the Burmese parliament where she chairs the Parliamentary Rule of Law and Tranquility Committee.

Her talk on how to restore democracy directly spoke to the issues confronting Africa. She said, “If democracy is to be restored to our country, we must have the rule of law, an end to ethnic conflict, and changes to the constitution.” On the rule of law she said that Burma hardly has a judiciary to speak of. She sent the audience into laughter when she said, “It is not that easy to change the ways of people who have become corrupt over the years. Judges who have become corrupt cannot be changed simply by sending them to special courses at Yale. It is not just a question of acquiring good education. It is a question of attitude and mindset.”

Suu Kyi conceded that fighting corruption is not easy because it requires people who have been used to high standard of living through corruption to accept a decent salary. Many African nations are in similar situations to Burma. They need judges and civil servants who are leaders with moral authority and are honest about the state of their nation.  Africa also needs opposition leaders who face their nation’s “problems in a constructive manner while at the same keeping hope in its future and putting it in the best light” ( In most cases, African opposition leaders spend their time trying to crush the government while the government spends its time scheming how to stay in power. Meanwhile, the citizens are left to suffer with dysfunctional leadership. 

Suu Kyi said that her source of courage came from “inner resources” and a focus on others. The “inner resources” available to a Christian are more abundant than those available to others. Our inner resource is the Holy Spirit Himself. The Bible says “he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). Jesus sacrificed his own perfect life that we might know the blessing of God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love. Therefore, Christians have the power, the mandate, and the example, to be agents of transformation in the world.  The church in Africa ought to spend more time discipling Christians in Christ centered civil service. We need inspirational political leaders with humility and grace on the one hand and endurance and toughness on the other. This kind of leader will achieve great things for the weak and the oppressed. Where do your members in influential positions get their strength when facing hardship? What are you teaching them about the source of true success and lasting greatness?

Lawrence Temfwe