National League for Democracy (NLD) Chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi presented party’s policy, stance and work programmes through radio and TV on 17 September.
People of the Union of Burma,
May you enjoy peace of heart and mind!
The General Elections will soon be taking place. The time has come for us to ask for the support, the supporting votes, of our people. In reality, the support of the people is at all times an essential for the success of any enterprise of worth for a nation. It is for this reason that the National League for Democracy (NLD), fully aware that we were one with the people and that the people were key, placed our trust in our people, and started out 32 years ago on the long and difficult journey towards a democratic federal Union.
The prominent milestones along this long journey are the General Elections of 1990, the by-elections of 2012 and the General Elections of 2015. Please allow me to speak about some memorable facts related to these milestones. In the 1990 elections the NLD, with the wholehearted endorsement of our people, was victorious in some 82% of the constituencies, but we were not even allowed to convene the Hluttaw. We only met with various kinds of oppression. However, the NLD flag remained aloft as we exercised the highest of the four levels of effort (Viriya), “to persist in an endeavour with the unwavering resolution even in the face of defeat”, and continued along the hard journey. Because the NLD was born of the people, and was sustained by the strength of the people we held on to our convictions and survived a struggle that went on for more than two decades. Then in the 2020 by-elections, the support of the people enabled us once again to raise our banner of victory. We won 42 of the 43 seats that we contested, and the people’s representatives of the NLD were, for the first time, in a position to serve in the legislature. Little more than forty in the Union Hluttaw that numbered more than six hundred was indeed a small minority, but we were strong in the support of our people.
In the 2015 elections, NLD representatives gained a majority of seats in the Union Hluttaw, and we were able to form a government of the people. A government that has been elected by the people bears responsibility as great as the honour it holds.
I would like to compare the challenges that the NLD had to face after we took on the responsibility of government at the end of March 2016 with an undertaking to create a valuable park out of a plot of land that had been neglected for many many years. A patch of ground ugly and dangerous with pits and hollows, rocks and sand, weeds and thorns, worthless trees and broken fences, a casualty of bad weather, bad methods, indolence and other ills. Much effort is needed to transform such a place into a safe, beautiful, valuable garden. It has to be cultivated ceaselessly, day and night, with all the strength, intellectual, physical and financial, at our disposal. There is so much that needs to be done for long term sustainability, for progress and durability, for true worth that can be passed down through the ages and generations to come.
Our efforts to lay a firm foundation for lasting peace, prosperity and progress, which are the basic requirements for any nation, and to build a genuine democratic, federal Union, are based on the commitments we made to the people when the NLD was first founded. The will to continue until our efforts have resulted in durable success is the chief reason for our participation in the coming General Elections.
For the NLD, contesting in an election is an intrepid undertaking of which the outcome is dependent on the trust of the people. I say this because, under the present national constitution, our elections do not meet true democratic standards. In all the legislatures, Union, Regional and State, the people have the right to elect only 75% of the representatives. The remaining 25% are appointed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw. So to be able to form a government, the NLD will have to overcome a 25% handicap. To form a government that can consolidate the nation-building work on which we have begun, we need a majority in the Hluttaw. However, as we are only allowed to contest 75% of the seats, we need to win at least 67%. (In the elections of 2015, we won around 79% and was therefore able to form a government.)
To avoid the need for going into these percentage calculations, I would like to appeal to our people simply to vote overwhelmingly for us that we might win every seat that we are contesting. Every single vote is beyond price. Casting a vote in the right way is not only an indication that the duty of a citizen has been discharged, it is a clear sign that the rights of citizens are valued.
As we are asking for the support of your votes, you will wish to know what the NLD government has done to benefit the nation. It will not be possible to address this issue fully in a speech of restricted duration like this one. Please read about it on the Chair NLD Facebook Page. Our election manifesto, which spells out the policies and purposes of the NLD, can also be accessed on the same Facebook Page.
On this occasion, I would like to apprise you of some matters that we consider to be of importance to our nation. Let me revert to the park metaphor that I used earlier. The greatest need for our park is security. We must make our fences strong and safe against external predators, men and animals. The most effective, safest bulwark for the defence of the park that is the Union of Burma is our unity. It is for this reason that our government set up the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre, and has been working incessantly to extinguish the fires of civil strife that have been causing so much suffering to our people, and to put an end to the political culture (it should rightly be termed barbarism) of resolving political problems through the use of arms and violence.
As we need unity for peace, so we need the rule of law for peace and unity. It is important that prevailing laws of the land should accord with our times and circumstances. This is why we tried in the Hluttaw to amend the Constitution, the crowning law of the land, that it might accord with the genuine democratic standards to which we all aspire. We did not succeed in achieving the required amendments; but it was a kind of victory because it gave those of our people who were interested in the issue an opportunity to learn why we wanted to amend the Constitution.
In defending the nation, we have to consider not only internal perils but external dangers as well. There are tangible defences, such as the wall along our Western border. Our government approved twenty billion kyats for the project. More profound and challenging is the intangible, invisible task of defending our country in the international arena.
As our people well know, we are faced with many difficulties and troubles in our Rakhine State as a consequence of problems that began many decades ago. As we struggle with these challenges, we have met with criticism and pressure, rather than understanding, sympathy and help. Why is this? It is because, basically, there are few who know or wish to know, our country well. There are few who wish to learn about our country. To put it in another way, our country is not of great consequence on the world stage. We have not yet reached a notable level of import. We do not have enough resources to make us highly significant. “But our country is rich in natural gas, forests, minerals, precious gems,” some might aver. I am not referring to such resources. The truly valuable resources of a nation are: peace and stability, the security guaranteed by the rule of law, sustainable development and, greatest of all, a people well endowed with education, health and spiritual strength. Our NLD government would like to continue to discharge our responsibilities, with the support of the people, until we reach a stage where such resources are firmly embedded in our soil. We would like to tend our valuable plot of land which, fenced and cleared, is emerging from wild neglect to take on the semblance of a garden, to make it safe and pleasurable with shade-giving trees, fruits, flowers and lush greenery. In the event of unpredictable cyclones, such as Covid-19, the gardeners must take the responsibility to use available resources with the rightness of purpose, wisdom and perseverance to ensure the least possible damage to the garden. We would like the people to be confident that “never again will our land revert to a wild state.”
The emblem of our National League for Democracy is a field of red, depicting courage, emblazoned with a golden fighting peacock that represents students and youths who have played a crucial role in epoch-making movements, and a large, white star, the symbol of revolution. To elaborate, it is a banner that brings together and irradiates the courage and perseverance of people who can dare all for their country, the bright future of new generations, and the strength of change rooted in purity. Since 1988, we have been able with the support of the people to bear aloft the banner of the NLD, even in the hardest of times. In 2015, we were able to plant our banner of victory. Now in 2020, I appeal to the people to give us, with their supporting votes, the responsibility to make firm our banner of victory.
Let us vote for the abiding firmness of the victory banner.
Let us vote NLD for true democracy.
May the people of the Union of Burma enjoy peace of heart and mind!