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APU Person of the Year -- Aung Sun Suu Kyi



SACRAMENTO -- Aung Sun Suu Kyi is's person of the year for 2003. The Nobel Prize laureate grabbed headlines throughout the year while in government detention.

Suu Kyi once again brought Myanmar into focus when she was arrested on May 30. She has spent over half of 2003 under house arrest.

Her captivity has focused much heat on Myanmar's government and in December they announced that Suu Kyi's opposition political party would help draft a new constitution in 2004.

The main competitor for person of the year honors in 2003 was Nepal's King Gyanendra.

The Nepalese monarch had a roller-coaster year in 2003 after dumping the elected government in the previous year. His personally-selected Prime Minister resigned and near the end of the year student riots against his actions were rampant in the capital.

However, the drama in Myanmar seemed to draw much more international attention. Many nations issued official statements calling for Suu Kyi's release and for Rangoon to make steps towards democracy.

Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 holds something of the same mystique and bearing as Nelson Mandela. Like the South African freedom fighter she has managed to survive under great odds.

She is the daughter of the late BUrmese nationalist leader General Aung San who fought to free his country from British colonial rule.

In early December, the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia, a united front of Asian democracy activists selected Suu Kyi as the symbol for their movement.

The year 2003 has been a tough one for Suu Kyi. In addition to her detention, she lost her spiritual advisor Bhaddanta Vinaya, one of Myanmar's most distinguished Buddhist monks.

Judging from her history, she is one that can never be counted out. For many the future of Asia can be seen in the face of this year's person of the year, Aung Sun Suu Kyi.