- By Ambassador Dr. Hla Maung (Baw Ga)
The author had the opportunity of studying Master’s Degree (Economics) at the Vanderbilt University in the United States for two years in 1961 and 1962.
It was the first ever trip by the author to the United States. The time coincided with the first presidential speech by John F. Kennedy, the then the President of the United States which was delivered four months earlier.
Having high moral principles
On arrival at the airport, a gentleman around 45 years of age with a neat attire came and assisted me. He kindly helped me in the baggage claim area and drove me directly to my hostel. Later, I was totally surprised to learn that the person who assisted me at the airport was no other than the Professor of International Trade and also my advisor. During my days in the university for two years, all of the other professors that I had come across were indeed decent, ethical, righteous faculty members of the university.
First and foremost, the professor briefed me on all the schedules for the first week. The first task was to report to the Rector of the University the following morning. In the afternoon, it was to greet and to report to the Professor (Head of Department) of the Graduate Programme for Economic Development.
On the first day, the Director of the Office of the University Registrar accompanied me at the two courtesy calls.
On the second day, the same person showed me the lecture halls, library, hospital and the university dining facility.
During my visit to all the university premises, I was very much surprised to see the same “quote” in each and every single office. When I asked the Director, he replied that it was the quote of President John F. Kennedy, which he delivered at his swearing in ceremony as the President in 1961. The quote is embedded in the hearts of the American people, and it spread to millions of people across the planet.
The Presidential quote is as follows:
Ask not what your country can do for you,
Ask what you can do for your country.
In his 14-minute 1961 inaugural speech, which addressed the United States’ role in the Cold War, Kennedy told Americans to ”ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Embedded in the heart
The quote was embedded in the hearts of the American people as their commitment to the nation, and that the status, standing and stature of President Kennedy enveloped across the planet.
The person further explained, “the Presidential quote has been printed by the University Administration Department and was instructed to be displayed in all offices. Well, you will see the same quote at the office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls.”
The Director continued to explain that the quote had been printed and aired in all the media, and asserted his opinion by saying, “the words in the Presidential quote are very much meaningful to all the American citizens.
In other words, it urges the American people on the need to serve the interests of the country with utmost dedication and commitment, setting aside the personal and organizational narrow interests. In doing this, the benefits go to the nation.”
He continued that due to the Presidential quote, the Lower House and the Senate, trade unions, industrial unions, and other organizations had gradually slowed down their one-sided demands, paving the way for negotiations, based on understanding with the government in trust building through consensus.
The above quote of President Kennedy resulted with advantages and benefits to the United States, getting strong support of many nations across the planet, which were printed in various media. The quote was popular and accepted not only in the United States, but also acknowledged by many countries creating an atmosphere of trust on common grounds for engaging positively.
Late for two decades
Last month (July), the author contributed a research article supported with statistics in the Myanma Alin Daily newspaper in connection with nation building. It was entitled “Towards a developed and peaceful nation through the success of the third session of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference.”
In the past, the socioeconomic status (SES) of Myanmar was on par with its Asian partners, and now we are left behind for about two decades in the SES, compared to our neighboring countries.
In making a summary of comparative study on the socioeconomic status of Myanmar with the Asian partner countries, our existing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is still 5 to 23 times below others. Similarly, the export value of Myanmar dived down to the marker of 13 to 45 times, compared with other countries in our region. Likewise, the Per Capita Income of Myanmar is lesser in the pointer, ranging from 3 to 46 times. Education, health and social conditions are also losing status.
The main cause of the problem or defect and lagging behind others in the socioeconomic status of the country could be assessed and evaluated as the lack of ability and poor capacity to build internal stability and peace for 70 long years.
The winds of change or an influence or tendency that cannot be resisted is in the horizon for all the people that long for the stability and peace in the country. The noble plan is no other than the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference.
The successful outcome of the peace conference is sure to bear fruits of national unity to further step into the peace and stability in the country in building a modern, developed democratic federal union.
With a view to create peace and unity of national races, the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conferences is in process with the formation of various support committees at different levels. The ongoing peace process is participated with the model of inclusiveness, such as that of the Union Government, Upper House and Lower House of the Parliament and the Tatmadaw, armed ethnic groups, political forces, civil society organizations, and representatives candidly talked and exchanged on political, social, economic and military matters, with a focus on fundamental principles to achieve a common ground and platform. Only when an agreement on a common ground is achieved, will the intended goal of peace and prosperity come true.
Development is set to speed up
In conclusion, the author of this article is of the view that all stakeholders and relevant organizations should emulate and follow the stance mentioned in the speech of President Kennedy and ward off the inflexible narrow self-interest mindset to achieve the aspiration that they dreamed of. When they come up in that direction at the peace conference discussion, with a view to salvaging and uplifting the declining social economy for more than 70 years in the country, then the common aspiration is sure to be achieved.
During the shortest possible time, it is hopeful that a common agreement could be reached for a many-sided sphere, and all the national brethren would be able to build a ‘democratic federal Union’ with a positive vision to accelerate into continued socioeconomic status in full gear.
Translated by UMT (HK)