Wednesday, July 06, 2011


In deference to a quirk of my personal experience cataloguing, I just put this brief post up on The Barstool - about fortuitously encountering the first of this year's BBC Reith Lectures on World Service television at the weekend. It was delivered by the Burmese dissident, Aung San Sun Kyi. And it was simply stunning. It is very, very rare to encounter such a potent combination of dignity, intelligence, and articulacy in a major public figure - one thinks of Gandhi, Martin Luther King. [Of course, in China, nobody's heard of her, or not in any very positive light, anyway. Myanmar is little more than a Chinese puppet state; the ruling junta there are just about the CCP's only regional allies. Don't get me started...]

She is presenting two talks in this series, the first on 'Liberty', the second on 'Dissent'. If you haven't heard them yet, follow the links at the bottom of the post.


I was having a so-so time on Sunday. Some friends had invited me to a nice barbecue party, but my enjoyment was inhibited by doubts about the condition of my intestines (I've had a grotesque dose of gutrot on and off for nearly 6 days now; it had seemed to quieten down over Sunday and Monday, but suddenly came back with a vengeance!).

Not having much of an appetite for either food or drink, I drifted inside - a considerably more luxurious pad than most I get to visit - and found that the host had satellite TV. So, I spent a little while spaced out in his darkened living room, immersing myself in the forgotten delights of the BBC World Service. I was fretting that it was a tad unsociable to do this for long, so had been planning to try and rouse myself to head outside among the partiers in the yard again at the end of the evening news summary, but....

Well, what do you know? Aung San Sun Kyi came on, delivering the first of this year's Reith Lectures on 'Liberty'. I was glued to the screen throughout the programme; and then had to quietly slip away home, because my eyes were embarrassingly moist.

It was an emotionally devastating moment. Beer and burgers - even if I had been in more of a mood to partake - suddenly seemed a complete irrelevance.

Aung San Sun Kyi is a captivating speaker, and it was an utterly beautiful speech. You can listen to a podcast of the programme (or download a PDF transcript) here.

The second of her two lectures, on 'Dissent', was broadcast for the first time yesterday morning: the podcast is here (although the PDF option is mistakenly linking to Lecture 1 at the moment).

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