(1 January 2021)
In the New Year of 2021, may all citizens of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar be in good health, may you be able to send metta vibrations among yourselves and may you have peace of mind and well-being.
The year 2020 has been a difficult year all over the world, and our citizens know this already. It has been a difficult year for us also. Myanmar had to confront the problems of the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time, face these problems without ignoring the challenges that are important for our future.
On behalf of the Union Government, I wish to express our extreme gratitude for the support and cooperation of the people in our efforts to overcome the various problems and challenges for public support is the main source of strength of the country as well as the most valuable resource.
I think what the people wish to know most of all at this time is regarding the vaccination programme for CODID-19 and when this programme would start. The purchase contract for buying the first batch of the vaccines from India has already been signed. As soon as the authorities concerned in India have issued permission to use this vaccine, we have made arrangements for the import of these vaccines into Myanmar. In accordance with this programme, we will be vaccinating the first priority group, which comprises medical professionals and medical personnel in February. There is a lot of competition as all the countries of the world are trying to get this vaccine. However, we believe that the vaccination programme could be carried out all over the country step by step. During the period when the vaccines are still not available, I wish to appeal to the people to abide by the health rules and regulations and give support to our efforts to beat COVID-19. Please be vigilant; please be patient. Please brace yourself by visioning the future. We are all in this together.
In 2020, just as we had to contain and control the COVID-19 pandemic in the best possible way, we had to exert our efforts to successfully conduct the General Election which was very important for our country’s future. The Union Government had to provide support to the efforts of the Union Election Commission to the best of its ability so that the people could express their will by voting in accordance with the law within the bounds of the health rules and regulations which are necessary to prevent the spread of the disease.
Because of the strong determination and duty consciousness of the people in the belief that they are the creators of their own destiny, the General Election was conducted successfully. This is something for our country to be really proud of. For this, let me thank the people one more time.
I also wish to thank the people for showing their confidence for our government with their votes. We have made a very firm resolve to continue striving hard to be worthy of the people’s trust and confidence.
Ever since our government took over responsibility in 2016, we have never lost sight of our ultimate goal, which is to establish a peaceful and developed Democratic Federal Union, on a solid and firm foundation. We have made continuous efforts cognizant of the fact that in marching towards this goal, peace and sustainable development, healthy growth of democracy and peaceful development, healthy growth of democracy and amendment of the constitution, amendment of the constitution and peace; all these things are interrelated in a circular fashion with backward and forward linkages.
That is why, no matter what kind of difficulties we had to encounter, in our efforts to establish a Democratic Federal Union, we have never stopped our efforts for peace and development as these may be considered as the beginning, the middle and the end of the peace process. We have made changes and amendments in accordance with the needs of the situation and continued with our work.
We knew and have accepted the fact that national reconciliation is something which is absolutely necessary for the emergence of the Union, which is our aspiration ever since the NLD was founded in 1988. Because of differences in beliefs, ideologies and views among our Union nationals, metta ceased to exist, anger grew, armed conflicts flared, and peace was burnt to the ground; thus we need to build mutual trust, understanding and respect on a firm foundation to end this vicious and dreadful cycle. That is why when our government took over responsibility in 2016, one of our first acts was to establish the “NRPC – National Reconciliation and Peace Centre”. We will be putting more focus and efforts into the programmes of the NRPC during this year.
The first session of the Union Peace Conference- 21st Century Panlong began in 2016. We encountered many difficulties during the peace talks in 2015, based on the provisions of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement signed between the previous government and some ethnic armed organizations. However, we continuously implemented the peace-making process step-by-step.
When official peace negotiations were suspended due to some disagreements, the NRPC and the Peace Commission were able to organize many informal discussions, and they finally managed to resume official peace talks.
Despite considerable difficulties amidst the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, the 4th session of 21st Century Panglong could be organized due to the all-out efforts. The stakeholders also satisfactorily signed the agreement which was full of political essence. Thus we have been able to successfully sign Part 3 of the Union Accord which stipulates the step by step programmes and implementation processes in the post-2020 period. At this time when we already have the peace roadmap for the post-2020 period clearly in our view, we will implement the post- 2020 period peace process with new approaches by exerting our efforts from all angles and points of view so that not only the NCA signatories but also the non-signatories will come on board and cooperate.
We have realized that both formal and informal dialogues are pivotal to the peacemaking processes in the post-2020 period. Similarly, we also recognize the role of public participation. This is related to paving the way for inclusiveness of all the stakeholders. Moreover, we have to focus on the design aspect of the peacemaking process such as policy and framework guidelines, the formation of necessary working groups, and the establishment of systems and mechanisms.
By keeping these goals in view, we will be making practical implementations for process, design and inclusiveness of all stakeholders in the upcoming five years. We will make strenuous efforts with increased momentum on ‘the New Peace Architecture’ in the post-2020 which balances representation and effectiveness and allows thorough negotiations among the main stakeholders; a review process which has been widely discussed from all points of view; thus it would enable subject matter and management support groups, political parties, CSOs, and the people to join in and participate.
The year 2022 will be the ‘Diamond Anniversary’ or the ‘75th Anniversary’ of the Panglong Agreement. In this year our aim should be to arrive at an encouraging situation where we can see clearly and distinctly in front of us a clear path for us to march towards the goal of our Union; I wish to state that we would be making exerted efforts by using this as our “New Peace Architecture” in the post-2020 period. Amendment of the State Constitution is absolutely necessary for the emergence of a democratic federal system which is the goal of our peacemaking efforts. We must strive with might and main for the emergence of the Constitution aligned with the peace agreements, the long-term needs of the country and the expectation of our people. There are only two years left for the 75th anniversary of Myanmar’s Independence. A top priority of the government is to shape the country for our posterity. It is also the task for the people. While leaving from the old system, its practices and policies must also be abandoned in addition to the amendment of Constitution.
That means the substitution of the old system and administration with sound policies and good practices. The general administration reform and model anti-corruption activities at the various levels of public services, from administrative to business sectors, must be carried out in leaving the old system and administration behind for implementation of the public sector that includes transportation, infrastructure and nationwide electrification.
When our government took office, only 34 per cent of households were connected to the national grid. The electricity coverage has increased to 57 per cent now and has been targeted to 75 per cent in 2025 and 100 per cent in 2030 respectively.
Moreover, our government has made a commitment to introduce Universal Health Coverage which can reach every citizen. The government will adopt specific plans in the upcoming five years to manufacture medicines medical equipment, to provide medical services from international standard hospitals and healthcare centres in the country, to upgrade technologies in healthcare services, to attract more investments in the health sector by promoting public healthcare services to be able to reduce the outflow of revenue.
The government has implemented the short-term plan of CERP to relieve the impacts of COVID-19. In addition to the relief plan, the country was required to adopt wider policies for the economic recovery of the country. The Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Plan (MERRP) has been drafted to solve economic problems. Among the mid-term projects of the plan, the works with highest recovery opportunities will be prioritized. The MERPP emphasizes on the economic sector, and the implementation of works in the plan could help the country to reach the objectives of Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan.
Rather than inviting investment proposals, opportunities will be created to attract local and foreign investments. Therefore, more infrastructures of domestic, international and joint-venture investments are expected to appear in the county in the near future. Financial and monetary stimulus packages will be effectively carried out based on the situations of economic response during and post COVID-19 crisis. Government budgets will be spent in areas where they will be effective, and the private sector will be encouraged.
Education is a very crucial sector for the development of the country. It is a long-term process. The government will make more investment to promote the education sector, and the private education sector will be supported. Education reform plans will be carried out to meet the demanding situations. Expanding vocational education could help in creating more employment for young people, and they would enjoy job security for life. The power of education is the ability to build capacity in a person to enable him/her to solve problems in the best possible way. The government will implement an education system to nurture the citizens who can dutifully work for the establishment of a Democratic Federal Union which can overcome all local and foreign challenges of the country in 2021 and the following years.
The time when the new year is foreseen with expectations is an opportune period to take lessons from the past and to create a better life. In a New Year occasion, I was asked about my wish. I immediately gave my answer that I wish each citizen should be a dutiful person. I now wish to expand a bit on this matter.
Specific duties must be known to become a dutiful citizen. It is very important not to misunderstand the desires caused by greed, hatred and delusion as our duties. Try to understand your own duties correctly. Try to find the right answer by asking oneself whether the bounden duties are personal or universal, or for taking or giving. And also try to accept the actual answers to serve for the country as a decent citizen. In this way, we don’t need to worry about the future of our country beyond 2021.
I wish that not only our citizens but also all the people of the world could share and enjoy peace in 2021, also share happiness and feel happiness. May they be able to send metta vibrations and also accept metta.
May you all have peace of mind!
(Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)