Estranged brother of Myanmar's Suu Kyi bids to sell lakeside home

By Shoon Naing

By Shoon Naing

YANGON (Reuters) - The estranged brother of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Thursday he is making a new bid to sell the lakeside house where the democracy activist turned politician spent 15 years under house arrest.

Aung San Oo, who spends most of his time in the United States, submitted an appeal at the supreme court on Wednesday to auction off the once-grand white family home on the shores of Yangon’s Inya Lake which his lawyer has valued at $90 million.

The pair have tussled over the house since 2001, when he first sued for a share of the property.

Imprisoned there in 1989 by the then ruling military, Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero, spent 15 of the following 21 years confined to its grounds.

A Yangon court ruled in 2016 that Suu Kyi owned the main building while another building and some of the surrounding land belonged to her brother.

"The previous decision was biased and they gave her more than half and so I am not satisfied and I am asking this right now,” Aung San Oo told Reuters by telephone.

"I already let her live for free for 12 years. There is a limitation.”

His new legal challenge comes as Suu Kyi, now ruling the country as state counsellor, faces multiple domestic and international crises, including foreign condemnation of her government’s handling of a crisis over the Rohingya Muslim minority and a weakening currency.

Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, and her lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay did not answer calls requesting comment. He recently said he would not speak to media except at a biweekly news conference.

Aung San Oo’s lawyer, Aye Lwin, told Reuters his client decided to appeal because his share of the property had fallen into disrepair.

"The building we got has already collapsed,” he said. “The other side got the two-storey main building. They lived there the whole time and we couldn’t. He had to live outside.”

Suu Kyi gave impassioned speeches to crowds of supporters over the metal gates of the house at 54 University Avenue but she has not lived there since 2012, when she moved to the new capital, Naypyitaw, to enter parliament after her release.

But the property has been the site of some of her most high-profile meetings, including with former U.S president Barack Obama and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

NLD supporters voiced their dismay over the potential sale, with one, Nyi Nyi, a lawmaker for the Yangon regional parliament, vowing to raise money for her legal battle.

"This will become a historic place of a leader who fought for democracy and so, as a citizen, although I am not rich, I cannot lose the compound," he said.


(Reporting by Shoon Naing; Writing by Poppy McPherson; Editing by Robert Birsel)