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Myanmar envoy wonders about Suu Kyi's 'boyfriend'

world Updated: May 22, 2009 12:10 IST

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Myanmar's consul general in Hong Kong has posted a letter on the Internet suggesting the American man arrested for visiting democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was a "secret agent or her boyfriend."

"Some of our friends inquired about an American, who swam into the Inya Lake, who secretly visited Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's house," said the letter seen Friday on the consulate's website.

"Their question is why he swam to her and what they discussed within his stay at her house," said the letter signed by "the Consulate General of the Union of Myanmar."

"Frankly, we have no idea whether he is either secret agent or her boyfriend at this moment. We shall try to learn it and tell you later," it said.

For emphasis, the words "either secret agent or her boyfriend" were in bold and underlined.

The posting refers to the bizarre incident in which a 53-year-old American, John Yettaw, used a pair of homemade flippers to swim across a lake to Aung San Suu Kyi's house, where he allegedly stayed between May 3 and May 5.

The intrusion of Yettaw, who was arrested as he swam back to shore, led to the 63-year-old opposition leader being charged with violating the conditions of her house arrest. Both are on trial this week.

The incident may have provided Myanmar's ruling junta with a pretext for extending her detention order -- which was due to expire on May 27 -- beyond polls due in 2010.

The letter was described by the South China Morning Post Friday "as another gaffe" by the "most undiplomatic diplomat in Hong Kong" -- Myanmar consul general Ye Myint Aung.

Ye Myint Aung sparked a controversy in February, during concerns over Myanmar's apparent expulsion of members of its Rohingya minority, when he wrote that they were as "ugly as ogres".

The letter was sent to the media and foreign officials after Thailand's military was accused of towing hundreds of Rohingya out to sea in poorly equipped boats with scant food and water after they tried to flee Myanmar.

"In reality, Rohingya are neither Myanmar people nor Myanmar's ethnic group," his letter said.

He contrasted the "dark brown" Rohingya complexion with the "fair and soft" skin of people from Myanmar such as himself.