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Yeoh 'Saddened' By Deportation From Myanmar

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MICHELLE YEOH DEPORT
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HONG KONG — Former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh, who plays Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming biopic, says she is "saddened" by her recent deportation from the country.

The 48-year-old Malaysian actress arrived in the country's main city, Yangon, on June 22 and was deported the same day because she was on a blacklist, a government official said Tuesday.

In her first comment on the deportation, Yeoh said in a statement Thursday that she was "shocked and terribly saddened by the action." She said she harbors no ill will and remains fond of Myanmar and its people.

Yeoh said she was treated "cordially" by immigration officials in Yangon but wasn't given a reason for her deportation. Myanmar's repressive government has rejected visa requests from journalists and perceived critics for years.

The star of films such as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and the James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" was making a "private trip as a tourist," assistant Kit Wong told The Associated Press in an email.

"I continue to cherish hopes to see this country continue its progress toward peace and democracy and to be able to return soon," the Malaysian star said in her statement.

Yeoh visited Myanmar in December to meet with Suu Kyi but her portrayal of the democracy icon in the Luc Besson picture "The Lady" was shot in Thailand. The movie is scheduled to be released later this year.

Suu Kyi, 66, spent most of the last two decades detained by the former military junta. She was released last year, just days after elections that her party boycotted and in which she was barred from being a candidate.

The elections were the nation's first in 20 years, and in March, the junta handed power to a nominally civilian government. But critics say little has changed and the new government is merely a front for continued rule by the army, which took power in 1962.