“Southeast Asia may not be famous for its political and economic influence but there are many famous Southeast Asians who have made their mark internationally. Get to know some of the well-known people from ASEAN countries in the brief personality profiles featured below”


Aung San Suu KyiAung San Suu Kyi came to international fame as the Burmese opposition leader who was put under house arrest for nearly 15 years. The reason, in the words of the Burmese Government, is something not many would find acceptable. She was deemed “likely to undermine the community peace and stability” of Burma (Myanmar). Aung San Suu Kyi was only released in 2010. She is viewed internationally as a leader oppressed by an abusive regime and had gained vocal support among many ASEAN nations. Malaysia even warned the Burmese Government that Burma can possibly be expelled from the ASEAN if her detention continues. Aung San Suu Kyi once said: “Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may be able to realize their full potential.”


Lee Kuan YewLee Kuan Yew is a Singaporean politician considered by many as the founding father of modern Singapore. His three decades of governance saw Singapore’s independence from Malaysia and the transformation of the country into a “First World Asian Tiger.” Lee Kuan Yew is one of the original founders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and remains one of Asia’s most influential political figures. One of the most striking statements he made in his political career was said in a 1988 National Day rally. He said: “Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.” Not a surprising statement from one of the longest-serving ministers in history.


Carlos P RomuloHailed as Mr. United Nations by UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, Carlos P. Romulo is one of the most decorated Filipinos in history. He is best remembered for the exemplary services he has given to the United Nations and for his devotion to world peace and freedom. He served as the President of the Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly from 1949 to 1950. He also once held the chairmanship of the United Nations Security Council. Aside from his UN involvement, Romulo was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a statesman, diplomat, soldier, and author. He once said: “Brotherhood is the very price and condition of man’s survival.”


SukarnoSukarno is Indonesia’s first president, the leader at the time when the country was struggling for independence from the Netherlands. He is a nationalist and orator who is regarded as the founding leader of the Republic of Indonesia. Sukarno’s arguably most famous quote was mentioned in front of the BPUPKI congress on April 29, 1945. He said: “Reach your ambition as high as the skies! Dream it as high as the skies! Because if you fall (you’re fell), you’re gonna fall among the stars.”


Michelle YeohPerhaps the most famous Malaysian celebrity at present, Michelle Yeoh is a force in the Asian entertainment scene. She was once the face of the Malaysian tourism campaign. Yeoh is regarded as Malaysia’s most successful entertainment star. She has done a number of movies with Jackie Chan and has starred in a number of Hollywood movies including the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” and the award-winning “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” She portrayed Aung San Suu Kyi in the movie, “The Lady.”

(Photos: – Aung San Suu Kyi, www.justees.org | Lee Kuan Yew, www.biography.com | Carlos P. Romulo, www.carlospromulo.com | Sukarno, www.lensaindonesia.com | Michelle Yeoh, www.media.unifrance.org)




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