The 2017 Nobel-Myanmar Literary Festival kicked off at the National Theatre in Yangon yesterday, with President U Htin Kyaw in attendance.
Speaking on the occasion, the President has called on the people to make the best use of press freedom for the development and peace of the country.
“As everyone knows, individual freedom which does not harm others, and freedom of all citizens together with freedom of the press are being enjoyed in Myanmar today. Based on the press freedom which we have begun to enjoy recently, I wish to urge everyone to work for the development and peace of our country, and for the progress and prosperity, peace of mind and well-being of every individual citizen, at this auspicious Nobel-Myanmar Literary Festival,” he said.
He also thanked the organizers of the 2107 Nobel-Myanmar Literary Festival (Creative Literature) and all those who love and cherish literature gathered at the festival, for giving him the opportunity to give the opening remarks.
“Literature is a place where intellect and knowledge converge and reside. For a country and its people, a high level of literature means that the intellectual level and knowledge is high. It is a fact that a certain country can develop and enjoy peace only if its citizens have intellectual capacity and knowledge,” said the President.
“That is why I believe that in our country where we need to work for peace and development, it is more important to have a high literary standard,” he added.
“It has now been three years since the Nobel-Myanmar Literary Festival has been organized. I have noticed that this year, this literary festival which is being organized with so much love and devotion for books is being organized with the title “Creative Literature”. If I were to talk about creative literature, the book called “Maung Yin Maung and Ma Mei Ma” by James Hla Kyaw, which may be called the origin of the long novel and a book called “Roselle leaf seller Maung Hmain” by clerk U Gyi both came out in the year 1904, so it is already over 100 years. It gives me satisfaction to see that classic books such as these which are over 100 years old have been collected and displayed at today’s festival. Furthermore, I have also noted that at this festival, there are several events such as for presentation of papers, short story reading, poetry recitation, and also that books are being sold on a large scale. I have noticed that all these constitute a very huge support for the development of the Myanmar literary world,” said President U Htin Kyaw.
“Regarding creative literature, a particular incident comes to my mind in which Saya Zawgyi, whom we all greatly respect, once said and also wrote in exhortation on a particular subject,” he said.
He continued to recount what Saya Zawgyi has said thus, “good literature only comes from a good mind. Good creative literature portrays the author’s intentions”. In addition he said, “the author usually sees and hears the surrounding environment only when a creative thought forms in his mind. At that time an existential understanding usually emerges within him in such a manner: this is a feeling of compassion, this is a feeling of encouragement, this is something to praise, this is something to blame, this is something to be afraid of, and this is something to be ashamed of. As soon as this existential understanding arises, imagination begins to flourish. At that time, this very imagination can create human behaviour and worldly behaviour. That is why imagination is a function of the brain which can present the good and the bad and the benefits and the faults.
That is why a novel of high quality can be written only if the author can write with that type of imagination.” The President added that this was an attempt to explain how existential understanding, imagination, creativity and the author’s intention were interlinked and important. He continued, “When we read good creative literature, we become aware of our environment. The person who becomes aware of the environment begins to understand how to control his thoughts, words and deeds. There is a possibility that this person will come to know not only how to work for his own benefit but also know how to appreciate, view and have compassion for the benefit of all other beings like him who are wandering through Samsara.”
“Good creative literature can instill in our hearts noble and humanitarian thoughts such as those stated above. That is why I believe that it is necessary for such good creative literature to emerge in our country. At this point I wish to say that in accordance with the dictum, Only good minds produce good literature; only good intentions produce good literature, the good intentions of authors is very important.
In addition, imagination and creativity are also very important. Furthermore, we have always believed that for imagination and creativity to develop, freedom of the press, which is based on fundamental principles such as the freedom to believe without harming any other person, freedom to think, and freedom of expression, is very important,” he added.
The opening ceremony of the festival was also attended by Speaker of Amyotha Hluttaw Mahn Win Khaing Than, Chairman of the Constitutional Tribunal U Myo Nyunt, Union Minister Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Chief Minister of Yangon Region U Phyo Min Thein, regional ministers, departmental heads and writers.
The opening ceremony was followed by a paper reading session.
More than 140 book shops are participating in the festival, which will last till 24th January.— Myanmar News Agency