Speech delivered by State Counsellor on the occasion of the 68th Anniversary of the Kayah State Day celebrations

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivers the address.  Photo: MNA
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivers the address.  Photo: MNA

It’s a great pleasure for us to be present on the occasion of the 68th Kayah State Anniversary. Celebrating a State day is possible because we are celebrating a part of the Union. So no discrimination must exist between the Union and the State. Instead, it is very important to have the Union and the states always stand side by side. Since we have regained our independence, we have successfully founded the Union. The Union Spirit, the attitudes of the Union and the values of the Union can be witnessed almost everywhere in a state like the Kayah State. This State has a rich variety of national races who have lived together happily on this land for many years since the days of our forefathers.
Naturally, the emblem of the Kayah State is the flying couple of the legendary birds the Keinnari and the Keinnaya. The meaning of this symbol represents loyalty, fidelity and faithfulness. People say these romantic birds can’t be separated, since one cannot live without the existence of the other. This carries the profound implications that in order to have the survival of the Union, the States can’t be separated, and vice versa. I’d like to highlight the fact that it is only when we move forward with genuine loyalty and the true spirit of the inseparable Union and the states that we will be able to establish the nation we wish for. I was happy to listen to the song our little children sang for us. One line in the lyrics goes: Peace is a must. This concept indicates that peace is the basic need of our country, which I believe the people of the Kayah State understand and accept very well. A state may have been devoid of peace for some time, but when peace has been restored to the state, when ceasefire exist in the regions, there comes progress in the locality, which all national races do not fail to witness. Look at these little children, placing, not guns, but violins on their shoulders, and giving us strength of mind, as well as immense delight, through music. Now they have the blessings of pursuing their education peacefully. Therefore, if we really wish for the progress of our country, we all must cherish in our hearts the truth that peace is a must. From within comes Peace. Only if you have the will for Peace, Peace will be restored. Hence, it is of crucial importance for all our national races to be provided with Peace. Ours is the dream of founding our country as the Democratic Federal Union. And we’ve been striving for realizing that dream. This, as you see, is highlighted in the message from the President. So, if we really want our country to be the democratic, federal Union, we must pay special attention to each and every word of this name. What do we mean by “the democratic, federal Union”? What aim should we set out for? Of course, the word “democracy” is a very popular catchword. This word has been quite familiar to all of our people, but people differ and their understanding of the word differs. We can’t probe into the mind of each and every individual to find out how far they understand the concept. However, to speak exactly from the political point of view, democracy stands for the government of the people. The government established with the representatives elected by the people is the democratic government. Why do we want to build such a democratic, federal Union? Why do we want to build such a democratic nation? This is because we want to provide full guarantees for the rights of our people. There’s no one else, except you, who could effectively protect your own rights. Every citizen has to protect his or her own rights, and under the democratic system, every one is responsible for safeguarding the rights of his or her nation. My dear brothers and sisters of the nation, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that we must not only enjoy our rights but we also have responsibilities.
You want the democratic rights, but if you do not want to carry out the democratic responsibilities, I must say this is only fifty percent democracy. But keep in mind that with only fifty percent democracy, it’s no way to build a perfect country. We want democracy because we want to safeguard the rights of our people, and we want our people to cultivate the sense of responsibility and dutifulness, and promote the caliber of performing the duties to the best. Therefore, our government has focused our attention to the sectors of health and education. Through these sectors, we hope we can upgrade the caliber, as well as the morale, of our people.
It goes without saying that only a child enjoying good health can do learning. It is only on the right path of education that our way of thinking will be right. So we must inculcate in our young minds the ideology that Peace is a must. Yes, Peace is a must. If Peace is lacking, there’s no chance for our country to make progress, never develop. If we fail to build a developed country, as the vicious circle goes, we cannot make peace ever lasting and strong. It is very important that this kind of concept must be inculcated in the minds of our little children. As you all know, some adult minds, being too much fossilized, are not easy to accept the change. But if you really want a change, you can change at any time. No matter how old you are, you can change your mindset within a minute, within a second. So, while schools train our little children to adopt democratic spirit, our elderly people should train them at home to practice this spirit.
If we have adopted the spirit of democracy among our family members, in our local community, and are ready to serve the duties for the cause of all, if we rightly safeguard the rights related to all and everyone, then we are doing for the cause of democracy. Concerning the federal system, we must think why we want to follow the federal system.
Our country being composed of a rich variety of national races, it is of vital importance for all our nationalities to stand united so as to build a strong nation, a peaceful prosperous nation. In fact, it is from our hearts that unity takes place. Where there is unity, there’s equality. In the case of two friends, to make friends, both must enjoy equality: if one is taking too much advantage, there could be no equality, and so no chance for making friendship. So, in the case of our country, if we wish for harmony and unity among our nationalities, there must be equality among us. We need equality, and at the same time, we must have the strong belief that we are enjoying equality. That is why we are heading towards the federal system. Like the word “democracy”, the word “federal system” has been familiar to our people. What does it mean? How many of our people have pondered over its meaning? I just wonder. It’s a political system. There’s the mainland, there are states and divisions, the mainland and the parts of the country. It is necessary to have equal rights and responsibilities enacted in accordance with the laws.
Because it is a system in which equality is guaranteed and maintained under the laws, we aim at marching towards this federal system. We aim at achieving democracy because we believe we can safeguard the rights of our people and promote the sense of responsibility among our people, because we believe it is the people alone who can best safeguard the interest of the people. We aim at implementing the federal system because it is through the federal system that we can maintain the everlasting peace of a country composed of a rich diversity of national races, as well as the everlasting political stability and the progress based on the eternal trust among ourselves. But there’s the umbrella term, the Union, under which both democracy and federal system come. We are now striving to build the democratic, federal Union.
Whenever I have a chance, I always seize the opportunity to talk about the Union. It’s a very beautiful word, very graceful. It’s of vital importance for all of us to cherish the underlying meanings of this word. The word ‘Union’ means a country built with the collective forces. This implies that such a country, built with collective strengths, is quite unlike those countries with no collective strengths. I’d like to stress that it is only when we have transformed our differences, our diversity, into strengths that we can build a Union. But it’s no little power to make such astounding transformations. We can’t get that power overnight. That’s why we should go step by step, collect our strengths from the diversity and promote our caliber into empowerment. How can we promote our caliber? Well, it’s through individual endeavours. Each and every one of us must endeavor. So we all brothers and sisters of the Union should think whether, in our daily life, our way of thinking and our actions have been in line with the Union spirit. We speak a word, and should think, “Does this word support the building of unity among ourselves?” Or does it damage the process of building the unity? Is our action supportive, or destructive, towards the building of unity? Is our way of thinking directed towards, or diverted from, the building of unity?
If we always keep ourselves alert about the Union spirit, we can unfailingly build a peaceful, prosperous country. Especially, all our local people know well the differences before the ceasefire agreement and after this laudable agreement in Kayah State. Therefore, we all need a ceasefire agreement. We all need peace. It is through peace that we can make progress. And we should consider how we can continue to maintain this state of progress. You may note that the President’s message highlights that Loikaw has been given recognition for winning the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Award. This marks the collective contributions of all, the contributions of our Union government, the contributions of the State Government, especially the local people.
I’d draw your attention to the fact that if you want to develop your state, it’s you who take the first step. Don’t rely on the government or others. It’s you who should start. If you want a clean township, every local person must keep his or her surroundings clean, and you get your environment clean. The government alone cannot keep the whole town clean without the collaboration of the local people.
Some people, I’m sorry, not some people, I am sure, not many in the ASEAN Region know the name of the town Loikaw. They have never heard of the town. But through the ASEAN, this unfamiliar town has won the pride of winning the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Award. Who did it? Well, it was you who did it. Was it you alone who did it? No. It was through the collaboration with other hands that you all made a success in the matters like this. Indeed, the credit goes to our Kayah State.
However, if we do not stand united among ourselves, this would make a disastrous effect on the progress we have already achieved. Progress does not always go straight. It depends on your diligence, perseverance, and your dedicated efforts. Sometimes, progress and backwardness go hand in hand. You may have made some progress, but there’s no guarantee that this progress will go on forever. You just can’t ignore the ongoing progress. We must nurture it every minute, just like we care about our health conditions. Health is to be taken care of, not one single day, but only if we care about our health every day can we keep ourselves fit and strong. So while our people of the Kayah State are feeling proud of the laurels of success, you may make an overall view and find out any weaknesses, if there is any, and make efforts to overcome this weakness. I believe you all have the power and caliber to overcome your weaknesses and shortcomings.
Please go over the song of our little children in your mind. They sang the song, Peace is a must (Can’t live without Peace.). Do you think these little kids had the opportunities like this five years ago or ten years ago? Let alone playing violin and giving entertainment to the audience at the state level. Think how many of the children had enjoyed the favourable circumstances for school going? This is, I must say, the Fruit of Peace. This is the bright future of our children. Only if the future of our children shines brightly, the future of our country will shine. Children, or youths, are our future. Of course, in the course of the Law of Impermanence, our older generations have to leave this world one generation after another. However, our younger generations must have the caliber to make a better state, a better Union of ours, a better world of ours. For this purpose, we the present generation have this responsibility to carry out to the best of our abilities.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that our Kayah State will strive on with the spirit of the Keinnari and the Keinnaya, the symbol of the State, never to part, but ever to be loyal and faithful, till we have established the democratic, federal Union. I believe you have all the calibers to strive on successfully, and we promise we will also make collaborations with you. I pray for you, May all the nationalities living in the Kayah State, all the local people of the Kayah State, be able to serve for the interest of the State more and more. May you be able to serve for the interest of our Union. May you be able to make progress in all sectors such as social, politics and economic May you be able to safeguard and consolidate these outcomes of progress, and leave this good heritage for posterity!. Thank you. (Translated by Dr Zaw Tun)

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