State Counselor Offers Support to Myanmar Athletes

By The Irrawaddy 22 August 2017

YANGON — Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has offered encouragement to Myanmar athletes participating in the 29th South East Asian (SEA) Games in Malaysia amid reports of attacks, accidents and inconveniences experienced by Myanmar teams and fans.

In her message released on Tuesday, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she was glad that the Myanmar men’s soccer team was able to advance to the semi-finals, despite a loss against Malaysia.

On Monday, Myanmar lost 3-1 to Malaysia in a match that decided the top spot in Group A. As Malaysia defeated Myanmar and had a match in hand against Laos, it is likely that Malaysia will become the group leader.

There were reports on social media that Malaysians harassed Myanmar fans after the match despite their home win. According to a Myanmar volunteer blood donor group based in Kuala Lumpur, around a dozen Myanmar fans were attacked or mugged in at least seven reported incidents. The Irrawaddy could not independently confirm the cases.

“The entire country is supporting you with great expectations,” read the State Counselor’s message. “It is natural that sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.”

The most important thing, she emphasized, is to learn from defeats and compete in upcoming matches with new energy, courage, knowledge and skill.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also said that she was sorry to hear about a bus accident carrying Myanmar squash players on Monday, in which one male and two female athletes were injured.

The two female Myanmar squash players pulled out of the doubles competition. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she was relieved that the male player could play in Monday’s match, and that the two female players would be able to join the competition after a few days of rest.

Last week, the Myanmar women’s soccer team was stranded at the pitch after beating Malaysia 5-0. Malaysian police later confirmed the arrest of the team’s driver, who reportedly had no license.

“The government and people expect that athletes, who are the pride of our country, will bring dignity to [Myanmar] with unwavering fighting spirit, while observing sports attributes such as fairness and integrity,” stated the State Counselor’s message.

“We honestly believe that our athletes are fighting tooth and nail to fulfill these wishes,” she added.

Myanmar hosted the 27th SEA Games in 2013—the first time in decades since 1969. Myanmar has so far hosted three SEA Games, which is the biggest biennial sporting event in Southeast Asia.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko