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Orchid hybrid named in honour of Aung San Suu Kyi

The Nobel laureate is on a three-day visit to Singapore at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 

SINGAPORE: An orchid hybrid was named in honour of Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Thursday (Dec 1).

Papilionanda Aung San Suu Kyi – a purplish looking variety – joins the more than 200 orchids named after dignitaries to date.

A cross breed between Papilionanda Josephine van Brero and Vanda Varut Fuchsia, the orchid hybrid produces strong upright flowering sprays, each bearing up to 10 large blooms. Each bloom measuring about 9cm across.

The Papilionanda Aung San Suu Kyi at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. (Photo: Xabryna Kek) 

"The sepals and petals are a delightful pastel bluish purple adorned variously with fine purple spots and tessellations, each bloom is complemented by a prominent waxy reddish purple lip," said NParks in a factsheet.

The Nobel laureate is on a three-day visit to Singapore, at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Ms Suu Kyi first visited Singapore in September 2013, when she was the chairperson of Myanmar's National League for Democracy.

Since 1956, many heads of states who visit Singapore have been presented with orchid hybrids that are named after them. According to NParks, orchid diplomacy “serves as a gesture of friendship to promote goodwill between Singapore and other countries”. It also “plays an important role in building bilateral ties”, it added.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi examining the orchid hybrid named after her with Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and NParks CEO Kenneth Er. (Photo: Xabryna Kek)   

Other dignitaries who have had orchids named after them include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and the late former South African president Nelson Mandela. 

Ms Suu Kyi was earlier hosted to breakfast by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at the Shangri-La Hotel on Thursday. They discussed Myanmar’s economy and the areas where Singapore businesses could contribute to Myanmar’s development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement.

Ms Suu Kyi also called on Acting President J Y Pillay at the Istana before hosted to lunch by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. She provided Mr Pillay with an overview of the Myanmar government’s domestic preoccupations, particularly in the areas of job creation, infrastructure, education, electricity generation, and public health, MFA said. Over lunch, Ms Suu Kyi and DPM Teo exchanged views on security and social issues including the importance of education, and equipping youth with the right skills for jobs.

In the evening, Ms Suu Kyi, alongside Prime Minister Lee, co-officiated the opening ceremony of the Asian Civilisations Museum’s “Cities and Kings: Ancient Treasures from Myanmar” exhibition, which will run for three months.