State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi held a Peace Talk yesterday with the local people in Ayeyawady Region, Myaungmya Township, at Basic Education High School No. 1.
The talk, held by the State Counsellor in different locations across the country, was an effort to explain about the ongoing peace process in Myanmar, why peace is critical to the country’s future and why peace and development are inseparable. The event was also a chance for the public to ask questions and make comments. Their views are listed below.
Yesterday, local youths participating in the Peace Talk were introduced, and then State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the people of Myaungmya Township.
“I greet all the people from Myaungmya. It can be said that various ethnic nationals are here. I came to Ayeyawady Region, Myaungmya Town to see the Myaungmya bridge. It is also time to hold a Peace Talk”, she said.
The State Counsellor noted that she has a close affinity to the region, and pointed out that Ayeyawady has enjoyed peace after enduring a long period of fighting.
“Myaungmya is where my mother was born. It can be said that all of you are my relatives. Once upon a time, there was fighting and armed conflicts in Ayeyawady Region.
There are now no more conflicts in Ayeyawady Region. Although conflicts are over, some Myaungmya town folks may still remember it. That is why I’m holding this Peace Talk to discuss the importance of peace, what to do to achieve peace, how to come together and help. In some regions, for example, during a Peace Talk held in Mandalay Region, youths from Mandalay Region talked openly. I enjoy having such open talks. They don’t understand about armed conflicts because they didn’t experience armed conflict in their region. So they are not interested in the peace process, because they were not affected.
But this shouldn’t be. I explained to them, if your finger tip hurts, the rest of the body is affected. You can’t sleep because it hurts. It affects the way you go around or do things.
In the same way, if there is no peace in one part of your country, it will affect the entire country. The effect is of course bad. That is why peace is important. Peace throughout the whole country is important. All need to think deeply on why our country is unable to achieve peace. Need to think on what to do to achieve peace. It is not the same from place to place. Problems are not the same. A person is different from another person. Because of this, different ways are needed to persuade all to participate in the peace process.
But I believe that it is only through shared thought and collective strength that we can achieve success. Without peace, it is not possible for a country to develop, develop for the long term. There can be short term-development. But without peace, development is not sustainable. And without development, peace cannot be maintained.
Peace was destroyed sometimes because the people were poor. People were not happy about problems related to economy. They could not stand it anymore and peace was destroyed. Peace and development is inseparable. We need to keep this in mind forever.
Some don’t look at their region or their country. They only look at the development of their small township. They don’t look outside of it. It can’t be done this way. But we still need to look for the development of our township. Like your own house. If peace didn’t prevail in the family, if your family is lacking anything, even if your ward is peaceful and calm, you wouldn’t be peaceful and calm.
However, if you alone, your home, your family alone is well-off, but if your neighbours are poor, it wouldn’t be good either. As soon as you went out, you’ll see the sufferings of your neighbours and you wouldn’t feel good. That is why your worry is not yours only. It is a worry for your country. In the same way, the worry of the country is your worry. Only when there is peace all around could you be at peace. If all is at peace, you’ll be more at peace. You can share your peace with others so that they can also be at peace. Discussion should be made with this spirit”, she said.
U Soe Hlaing Oo, Phyusin
Myitta Development Group
I think a good and correct ‘cetana’ is the main requirement. I can take part in the peace process through my computer business. It is important to make a decision based on good and correct ‘cetana.’ If you do something to others that you wouldn’t want others to do to you, is it right? Be it within a family or with others, if we deal in a way that we want ourselves to be dealt with, there’ll be no more hate speeches.
To tell the truth, subjects I was taught in life were not used for my life. As the subject was inadequate, I need to read at the school library or books published abroad. Even when reading it, I was unable to read well. Request had to be made for those who know to translate it or I had to ask the help of the teachers.
Daw Nant Yi Sai Na, Accounting Supervisor, Eskkal Hotel
For me, peace is important for a country. Only then can the life of the people be peaceful. Only when it is peaceful can education, health and economy develop. That is why peace is needed. A vision appears while I talk about peace. There are people fleeing from conflicts while surrounded by gun smoke. Our people can see this but we can’t do anything about it. One thing is for sure. People don’t like conflicts or not being peaceful.
Another thing is, within our society, be it in a family or a ward or a township, it is not peaceful to see a student age child selling cigarettes and stuff because he/she couldn’t attend school. Many who lived a simple life are not at peace because their livelihood isn’t very convenient. If they became sick, they can go to the hospital but since they didn’t have enough money, they couldn’t buy medicines and treatments. Some in the rich circle can go to hospital and get treatment. Some even go oversea for treatment. But not much care or support is provided to the poor. Then, they (the rich people) will not be at peace because they saw the suffering of the poor. This is the peace we are unable to get.
U Win Naing, restaurant owner
Peace is quite important for Myanmar. It is yet to develop because there is no peace. If there is no peace, there can be no development. That is why we need to walk down the path toward peace consistently. People suffer because there are conflicts. Lives and limbs were lost. Children could not get an education peacefully. Without education, there wouldn’t be development. Without development, the country will remain poor. That is why the peace process is to be followed consistently and priority should be given to it. People in the whole country are expected to want peace in the same way as I want peace. Only when there is peace can other sectors develop.
Because of peace, the Ayeyawady Region has developed a bit. Education can be obtained. Transportation and communications is becoming better. As people can earn a good living, Ayeyawady Region is starting to develop. This is the outcome of peace. In the same way, it is important to have peace all over the country. It is not possible for our region to develop alone. Those living at the border and on the hills need to develop. The country is developed only when there is equal development throughout the whole country.
The education I received was not very useful for me. I just try out many businesses. The first business of fish breeding was a failure. Now I started a restaurant business. It is turning out quite well. I start this on my own thought without using the education I received. The education I received was totally inappropriate with what I’m doing. It was totally useless.
Daw Pyone Pyone Aye,
fishery business owner
Peace is most important for the country. My family business was in the fishery business. During my parent’s time, it was not peaceful. They have to pay protection money to armed personnel. If protection money is not paid, their workers or boats were taken away. Owners need to negotiate with them. The workers and boats were released after negotiation. Even then, the government jailed the business owner (for dealing with insurgents?).
Now that the Ayeyawady Region is at peace, all can sleep well, eat well, get an education and do businesses. However, our brothers and sisters who are in the conflict areas could not sleep or eat well. They are worried about when fighting will erupt. So they could not do business. In such a situation, how can the economy in that region develop?
If the economy could not develop, education will not be good. In turn, the economy of the country will be at the bottom. Wish for the long running conflict to end.
I want to see our country at the same level as the other countries. I plead for implementing peace without prejudice against one another or an organisation against another. Peace can be achieved only through understanding and forgiveness.
U Zaw Tin Moe,
I have the experience of not having peace. I don’t feel well if I think about those living in places without peace.
Everyone in this country wanted peace. I’m sure there are many who want peace more than I do. They are the people who are facing the ravages of war. Yet, there are many more who want peace more than these people too. They are the Tatmadaw personnel and ethnic nationals in the ethnic armed organizations. Because they are in the fighting, risking their lives, I’m sure they want peace the most.
No one would want to go to a conflict area to develop it. No doctor, no teacher, no investor would think of going to a conflict area.
If the NLD government, elected by the people, who thought for the people, is unable to achieve peace, I don’t think we will ever get peace.
U Aung Kyi Myint, farmer
I want to see more development in education. A private company was permitted to build a school in our village in 2016. Only 50 per cent is completed to date. Locals want to see this school completed. Another school in another village nearby is also incomplete.
U Aung Myint Myat,
Without education, there can’t be peace. And without peace, education is useless. None of us will go to a place where it is not peaceful. Locals who are educated abroad could not return to their places of origin to teach because there is no peace. Both peace and education is required.
For peace, the education ministry can contribute by organizing students to engage in sports. If sports events are held in school, the students will come together bringing unity. Sports will support peace. Sports events for all ethnic nationals to participate together should be conducted while they are young. They will understand one another and one another’s tradition and culture. In this way, sports in the education sector will support peace. To achieve peace, education and sports shouldn’t be left out.
When the Kachin national Aung La N Sang become a double champion in MNA, not only the Kachin national but we were also happy. All ethnic nationals were happy. He was participating in the peace process through his sport. That is why I want to say that sport plays an important role in the peace process.
Yesterday’s event was attended by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Dr. Myint Htwe, U Thant Sin Maung and U Han Zaw, Ayeyawady Region Chief Minister U Hla Moe Aung, Deputy Ministers U Min Thu and U Kyaw Lin, Region Hluttaw Speaker and representatives, regional government member ministers, departmental officials, civil society organisations, town elders, National League for Democracy members, students, youths and members of the public.
Daw Phyo Ei Kyaing, Entrepreneurs Association
Daw Phyo Ei Kyaing said when she hears the word peace, she thinks of non-discrimination and unity among the different ethnic groups in Myanmar working together to develop the country. She said that regardless of a person’s religious affiliation or place in the country, if everyone had the same citizenship spirit, then Myanmar could be collectively developed.
She said their Entrepreneurs Association is working under the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA) and therefore have a clear vision and clearly defined objectives. She said she believed that the youth are a resource of a country and that if they all received the same standard of education across the country, then their critical thinking would develop. She said if there is peace, then entrepreneurship will develop and so the youths of Myanmar will follow the State Counsellor in her efforts for national reconciliation and peace.
The State Counsellor replied that everyone needs to think of how to prevent the spread of hate speech and promote good practices through the use of technology. She said Myanmar’s education system is still weak, but they are trying to fix it. She said that a lack of English language proficiency prevents people from accessing documents and journals from other countries. She said English language proficiency is needed to be on par with the world as all of the important documents in the world are in the English language. She said the things taught in school are currently not applicable in the real world and that she promotes vocational training for finding a professional career.
The State Counsellor said that peace and development go hand in hand. She said that only when a nation is economically wealthy will its people have social security. She said that the current status of young children dropping out of school to make a living is not something that should be happening and the Union Government is doing all it can to alleviate the situation. These children may have to sell cigarettes and betel nut on the road and that it isn’t practical to tell people not to smoke or chew betel nut to stop the children from entering this line of work without finding an alternate source of income for these children. She said that peace is realized when every citizen has peace of mind, and while no one can provide 100 per cent peace of mind to everyone, it is possible to provide safety and security to the people with firm rule of law. Another point the State Counsellor made was that every citizen and business should pay their due taxes, which will enable the government to provide required services to the public.
The State Counsellor said that concerning the recent incident in Myaungmya, the public’s focus is on the bridge and for the construction of high-quality bridges and roads, for which the expertise and finances of the people are needed. She said that no matter how skilled an engineer is, they cannot build a safe and strong bridge if they do not have the essential tools and materials for the job. Therefore, it is the people’s duty to pay their taxes and it is the government’s job to use them in a responsible way for the public.
The State Counsellor said that sports are important for the mental development of young people and that she wants to encourage young men to take up teaching as a profession as there is a lack of male teachers. She said that many people only wish to be a leader but have no motive to start from the ground up to grow into an effective leader. She said that parents and elders should teach children that everyone and every role in society is important.
Union Minister Dr. Myint Htwe said that if people are given more health education and become more health literate as the State Counsellor wishes, the people may stop consuming alcohol, smoking and eating overly fatty, salty and sweet food that can lead to unwanted diseases.
He said that their Ministry has published a guidebook that will be distributed to their 30,000 basic health employees in the coming months. The guidebook will have chapters on important medical issues like vaccinations.
The State Counsellor then replied to an online question asking why the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and peace process does not have the cooperation of all the ethnic armed organisations (EAO). She said that even though everyone desires peace and wishes for the fighting to end, a lack of trust from both sides is a reason why some EAOs have not signed the NCA yet. She said that if a person has belief and trusts in themselves, then they will be able to trust other people. She said if a person believes that they can achieve peace for their community through non-violent means, then they will be willing to take risks to achieve that goal.
The State Counsellor then said that she hopes that this peace talk will inspire and motivate everyone to think of how to spread peace in their community. She said that the entire country needs to be united to face the challenges of the rest of the world. Therefore it is important and a meaningful wish for everyone to wonder what role they can contribute to this end. She said that this thinking is the start towards unity and peace.
The State Counsellor then replied to a question asking what the State Counsellor’s deepest wish is right now. She said her wish is for every citizen to become accountable and responsible regarding their duties. She said that the majority of people are interested in what benefits they may receive but not in what responsibilities they need to maintain. She said that her last wish would be to take full responsibility and accomplish her goals.—Myanmar News Agency (Unofficial Translation)