The Australian National University has bestowed its highest honour on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, conferring an honorary doctorate in a ceremony in Canberra today.
Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts campaigning for political reform in Burma (now formally known as Myanmar).
Since then she has received more than 130 awards and honours, including the Companion of the Order of Australia (awarded in 1996) and the United States Congressional Gold Medal (in 2008).
ANU Chancellor, Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, presented Daw Suu Kyi with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, for her outstanding contributions in the service of society.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s courage, dignity and steely determination have inspired not only her own people but countless others worldwide,” said Chancellor Evans.
"Aung San Suu Kyi is a champion of a peaceful path to a better and more just world. We recognise you not only as the global icon for democracy you are, but also as a gritty, hands-on politician who brooks nothing - least of all linguistic authoritarianism.
“In welcoming you to the University, and in conferring upon you our highest honour, we also pay tribute to those many other Burmese who have fought, so courageously and so long, for peace and democracy.”
Speaking at the ceremony Daw Suu Kyi said that her country, Burma was “struggling for a fair and just constitution”.
“My people want to live in a country that allows us to fulfil our potential. These are not great demands but we need a political system that harmonises many different people and their aspirations.
“We as a nation want to live in peace and harmony and contribute what we can to the betterment of human kind. But, realising dreams is great, hard work.
“I hope and pray that Australia will be with us on this journey. I hope the world will help us realise our dreams.
“We are not at the end of the road, just the beginning.”
And as her country charts a new path in the face of massive political and social reform, Daw Suu Kyi also had some advice for how Australia could navigate the Asian century.
“I very much appreciate the ability of the people of Australia to accept the values of different ideals, peoples and cultures and put them together.
“I’d like to congratulate you on what you have achieved and remind you that you don’t need to go all Asian. You are special because you are a unique combination of east and west and an example of genuine unity through diversity.
“Please retain what makes you special. You don’t have to be like everyone else and everyone around you.
“Strike out on a road that is different, daring and challenging.”
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), is visiting Australia for the first time as a guest of the Australian Government.
You can watch the full ceremony here.