State Counsellor and Chairperson of the Central Committee for Development of Border Areas and National Races Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, departed for Mawlamyine, Mon State, by special flight from Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning.
She was accompanied by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Soe Htut, Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Thura U Aung Ko, Dr Aung Thu, U Ohn Win, and Dr Myint Htwe, Deputy Minister U Hla Maw Oo, Chief of Myanmar Police Force Police Lt-Gen Aung Win Oo and other officials.
The State Counsellor and entourage were welcomed at Mawlamyine Airport by Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, Kayin State Chief Minister Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint, Mon State Chief Minister Dr Aye Zan, state ministers, Hluttaw representatives, department officials and local residents.
The State Counsellor and entourage then departed by helicopter with the Kayin State Chief Minister to Kawkareik and were welcomed by Kayin State Chief Justice U Saw San Lin, state ministers, officials, and local residents.
The State Counsellor then met with residents of the various townships in Kawkareik District at the Kayin New Year grounds, where she first delivered a speech: “We are delighted to hold a public meeting with local people in Kawkareik District, and thanks for the warm welcome.
The main objective for this public meeting is just for sharing. That means to share all the good and the bad of the country, as well as the cause and effect. To share the blessings of good fortune. To bear the sufferings of ill fortune together. We will be together in weal and woe. This is the responsibility and rights of citizens.
While we enjoy the rights, we also need to carry responsibility. This is the objective of our public meetings across the country. We want to establish a government that allows people access to participation and guarantees protection. To do so, regular contacts between the government and the public is required.
We want to hear the people’s voice and we also want the people to know our replies. Some regions of our country, like Kawkareik, are more important, I think. It does not mean to discriminate one region from other areas.
Kayin State seriously suffered the consequences of civil war for many years. However, the local people have realized the essence of peace after ceasefire, comparing with the situations while the area was ravaged by armed conflicts. It is very important for our country.
We also need to develop the devastated sectors caused by the civil war. No success will be achieved without people’s participation.
I still remember the discussions of Kayin youths during the first meeting with young people for peace. As they were around 20-year old at that time, they could compare the situations before and after the ceasefire in the region. I asked them their feeling on the differences. They replied frankly and simply about better roads and transportation. I explained to them that the good transportation also resulted in other benefits such as education, economy and healthcare services. We had to work hard for better roads.
Similarly, there will be a large development gap in different areas depending on the access to electricity which is a fundamental necessity for daily life. Peace is very important for these fruitful results.
The Myanmar Sustainable Development plan has well recognized that development cannot be distinguished from peace. All the national people in Kayin State are advised to maintain peace. Actually, peace begins from within us. In contrast, the lack of peace is also caused by individuals who do not want it. Everybody needs to have self-confidence in peace. So, I frequently advise all to have self-confidence to secure peace. We must have absolute belief to bring about peace. Our people must have confidence that peace is the only tool to establish a peaceful state. Such belief must be implanted into the mind of young children. People need to have positive attitude, good intentions (cetana) and (metta) loving-kindness along their way to the intended destination.
The government is also responsible for helping people build up confidence. One of the objectives of the government is to establish rule of law. It goes far beyond police and courts. The term for rule of law is wider than this scope.
Rule of law must be capable of protecting people physically and mentally and while sleeping and in waking up without having any concerns about security inside the home, in public area, at work, in schools or in markets.
Public participation is crucial for rule of law. No government could implement major plans without support of the people. An administration that neglects the role of the people is not a democratic government. They will not maintain long term success.
Therefore, people are very fundamental for the country. Their ability reflects the capacity of the country. The value of the country depends on its people. So, our government focuses on health and education of the younger generation to develop them into valuable citizens. They need both physical and mental wellbeing. Wisdom means the quality of the mind, and it cannot be measured by academic degrees. Instead, it is the capacity and ability to overcome difficulties and challenges. That is why, I always recommend vocational education. The unemployment rate of graduates is increasing in developing and the most developed countries, while some graduates are unable to get jobs in the professions of their choice.
Therefore, the developing countries have gradually realized the importance of vocational education. Our country can take lessons from others’ mistakes although we lag behind other countries in the education sector. That is why we are striving to develop both academic education and vocational education on an equal basis. We also invite public participation. We have found people are requesting establishment of vocational education centres. They have understood the importance of vocational education.
We all know the bad effects of underdevelopment. But there are also good effects of under development. I also invite questions from the people to make close relations between the government and people in accordance with democratic practices.
We want to know concerns, problems and expectations of the people, and how we can solve these issues.
Some audiences are so well-disciplined that they have enough capability to build a genuine federal union.
I also advise the people to raise questions with the interest of the whole community in mind instead of making personal attacks.
Considering welfare of others is as important as personal interest in developing the country. This concept must be introduced to the young children by their parents even while they are living with their close relatives.
Parents must serve as models for their children instead of giving just instructions. If the parents are leading in the wrong way, they could not give valuable advice to their children.
Our government is responsible for giving clear and precise answers to the people’s questions. The government officials need to explain when and how the requests of people could be fulfilled, and give reasons why some requests could not be fulfilled. The government policies and rules must be explained in simple and concise terms.”
Following this, the State Counsellor, Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe, State Chief Minister Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint, state ministers and officials replied to questions from the local residents on matters that can be immediately addressed, those that require long-term solutions and those that require thorough reviews.
The questions were divided into two parts – those submitted in advance and those raised at the meeting by residents who drew lots. The questions included inquires into upgrading roads, bridges and hospitals, electrification, appointing sufficient medical staff, relinquishing confiscated lands, promoting Kayin literature and allotting land for Kawkareik Township’s interfaith group.
Next, the State Counsellor gave a short speech where she thanked everyone for their precise questions. She said the questions focused on three topics in particular – road infrastructure, electrification and land issues. She said after the Hluttaws have legislated laws, ownership issues have been cropping up all over the country. She said this was a dark legacy but people cannot separate the bad and only take the good from legacies.
She said there was no choice and asked for understanding from the public. She said all the citizens are united and urged them to cultivate a spirit of working for their region and their country and to fulfill their duties and exercise their freedom of choice properly. She said the purpose of these meetings was to share her thoughts and feelings with the public.
The State Counsellor then took a documentary photo with the gathered residents.
From there, the State Counsellor traveled by helicopter to Kya-in-Seikkyi and was welcomed by the State Auditor-General, state ministers, department officials, local residents, and the Kayin traditional Don Dance troupe.
She was also welcomed by local residents along the road to the town hall, where she held a public meeting with the residents.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi first delivered a speech, where she said:
Speech delivered by the State Counsellor at the mass gathering in Kya-in-Seikkyi
We hold mass gatherings with the people because we want to hear the voice of the people, and we want our people to hear our views. The Prime Minister of the State Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint informed me that the local people had some questions concerning the Constitution, and asked me if she should stop such questions. I said, No because the people have the right to raise questions and get informed. I asked her what the questions were, and she told me the questions had to do with the presence of 25% of the representatives of the Tatmadaw in the Hluuttaw and Article 59 (f). Here is my answer to your questions. This is a matter which concerns each and every one of us.
The Constitution is the concern of all our people. Actually, no questions have ever been raised in the mass gatherings like this. I am glad to hear that the people show interest in the matters related to the Constitution. Our people should always be alert to what’s going on in the country so that our country can make progress. As you all know, the Constitution embodies the basic principles and laws of a nation. It is this Constitution that mainly dictates how a nation is going to be shaped. When our country regained independence, it assumed the name, The Union of Burma. It was since then that our architects of independence had well accepted the idea of the Union. It goes without saying that a nation in the form of a Union was dreamed of, and this idea had been much valued.
Our country is a Union. I often remind you that we should always bear in mind that we as citizens are the brothers and sisters of the Union because our country is built of a rich variety of national races. To make sure this sort of country gets politically stable, makes progress and enjoys peace, the spirit of the Union is of crucial importance. Only if we citizens are equipped with the spirit of the Union can the progress of our country really be consolidated.
Union spirit means the spirit of unity. Unity or standing united doesn’t mean One Mind or standing under One Command. Unity or being in blood ties is based on the abilities of negotiating over different views or concepts. If you let your different concepts get you in aggressive mood or get you killing each other, our country would never enjoy peace and stability.
The ability of negotiating over different views is a requirement of each and every member of the Union. This both young and old should realize and accept. So the Union spirit means negotiating over different attitudes. If you stick to the attitude that you must get hold of a hundred percent of what you want, our country would never be politically stable or make progress. For example, suppose in this hall, this ceremony would be a failure if every one of you should feel happy to take the seats only in the front row. So there is some kind of adjustments or give and take. We have children in the front rows because it has always been the custom of our mass gatherings.
On some occasions, the children want to be there. But when there is no more space, we usually get them to take seats over there. Some people might think they are kids, they have no interest, they do not understand. But I believe that the interest in politics should be cultivated in our children no matter that they are still young. That’s why I always encourage the participation of children in the mass gatherings.
I really welcome you, people of Kyar In-Seik Gyi, to raise questions about the Constitution. I’ll share two points you want to find out. The first point is the presence of 25 % of the representatives of the Tatmadaw in the Hluttaw and the second point is Article 59 (f). Some of you may already know what we have been doing in the Hluttaw about the measures being taken to reform the Constitution. You may have made studies on this topic, or you may have read the newspapers carefully, and get informed about what is being said.
Our government has been taking measures for the reforms of the Constitution because, to put it simply, when we entered the election, we made a pledge to the people that we would launch the reforms of the Constitution. We did not make that pledge off-handedly. Why do we want to bring about reforms to the Constitution? This question is more important. This our people should understand. I believe you have understood to some extent, because on our visit to the Kayin State, I was astonished to find that even the local children showed interest in the reforms of Article 59 (f).
This showed how strongly the local people of the Kayin State have shown their interest in politics. We want to bring about the reforms of the Constitution, not because we have no ordinary objective, but because we want to build a genuine democratic, federal Union, purely because we want to include the points that would enable us to build a genuine democratic, federal Union.
While we are taking measures for fulfilling this pledge, we do not forget the issue of national reconciliation. We have openly declared, since we founded the National League for Democracy, that we shall aim at achieving national reconciliation. By this, I mean getting reconciled between those who do not believe in democracy and those who really do because it was the 1988 democratic movements that had given birth to the National League for Democracy. We have since then held a strong belief in democracy. Why do we believe it? A simple answer: I suppose everyone knows what is democracy: democracy means the rule of the people. However, it is practically impossible that the people would govern the whole country so the governing body is formed of the elected representatives under representative democracy.
Man is not perfect. Man has flaws and defects. So a system improvised by man has, of course, flaws and defects. Nothing can go smooth and perfect. But a world famous politician says democracy has flaws, it is the best of all the systems man has ever improvised. This does not mean that this system is free from flaws. This I personally accept. Democracy is not free from defects; it has its own shortcomings.
However, it is the best political system man has ever created. It is the best, because it is a system that values and respects the people. In other words, the majority are held in values and respect. To add essence to the democratic system, it represents the will of the majority while safeguarding the rights of the minority. To speak frankly, why do we want this system? Because it rules the country with the exercise of the desire of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority. This, we assume, is the best system man has ever improvised on this earth, and that is why we support this system.
Of course, there are people who do not support this system and those who really do. The former sticks to their belief that Democracy is not born in this country, but it has been exported from another country. If you look at our country after the 1988 democratic revolution, there arose two forces: one believes in democracy and the other doesn’t. That was why I drew attention to the issue of national reconciliation, and I meant the reconciliation between those two forces engaged in tension. Of course, we all are the citizens of the same country.
With the objective of building reconciliation between the offspring of the Union, we have held this as a policy of ours. Later, national reconciliation is also related to peace making process of ours. Concerning the reforms of the Constitution, when we had made a tour in organizing the people in terms of reforming Article 59 (f), I informed the people like this: if one of your family members happens to hold a foreigner registration card, he or she has no chance to be the President or the Vice President. In a word, many have understood that this Article makes a particular reference to me. And I also realized a bit of the personal reference.
In fact, we raise objection against the Article 59 (f), not out of personal grudge, but because of the policy of democracy. By this, every citizen must have the right for equality, the values of individual rights. We must respect that. We do not refer to the Constitution, but the law still in practice which states that a person reaching over the age of eighteen years is a grown-up, who is supposed to take responsibility for his or her own fate. Parents must take responsibility of what a child below eighteen has done. But when he or she is already eighteen, parents have no more responsibilities of such kind, and are not liable for punishment over a problem that their child has made. To put it simply, a law having juxtaposing the life of an adult and the life of the parents does not fit into the fundamental criteria. This does not fit into the fundamental principles of democracy, and we object. We object not because we assumed it was a personal attack to me.
The second point you have raised is the presence of the 25 % of the representatives of the Tatmadaw in the Hluttaw. In fact, we want to bring about reforms about this point not because it is something to do with the Tatmadaw. In a country really exercising the democracy, if the representative is not elected by the people, he has no right to exercise and exert influence on the Hluttaw or parliament because democracy is a system of government by the people. It is only the representatives elected by the people who have the influence or power over the system ruled by the people. It does not mean there are no representatives not elected by the people. But these non-elective members have limited rights. Sadly enough, the present Constitution has no such limitations. That is why we want to bring about the reforms. We object, not because it is the Tatmadaw, but we will raise objection to any organization having such privileges. Any organization that believes in democracy should not take advantage of such opportunities that do not fit into the principles of democracy. This we shall object outright.
In 2014, in the Hluttaw, while having tension at the Hluttaw concerning the reforms of the Constitution, we the National League for Democracy proposed a statement that this reform be made. We did not do so in a secretive manner. We let everyone get informed openly. It is a matter to be presented at the Hluttaw concerning the reforms of the Constitution in the present.
I do not mind making a clarification about this point. We draw attention to this point not because we want to show our aggressive attitude towards the Tatmadaw. We aim at bringing about the reforms with the concept that the Constitution must be reformed so as to fit into the framework of the genuine democratic, federal Union. We aim at the political stability and the national reconciliation and we will bring about the changes step by step. In the present, we made a proposed statement about the phase by phase reduction of the 25 percent because the democratic politics must have flexibility.
Yes, we must be flexible for the sake of the stability of the state, for the sake of peace for our people, for the sake of our independence and unity. As long as we have the mindset that I must get what I claim for, that our force must get what we have claimed for, our country would never enjoy peace. Then we would not be able to make progress. Then there goes the vicious circle of the lack of progress and the lack of peace. So I give credit to you, local people of Kyar-in-Seikkyi, for showing interest in the reforms of the Constitution.
Be interested in what stage our country has reached, where we are heading to. Discuss among yourselves. Stand together to put into practice what you want to do, what you dream of. Some people say, why not the government do this or do that? Please keep in mind that the people’s support is important for the success of the government’s tasks. Please do not underestimate yourself. Every one has his or her values. Keep this in mind.
How can you show this? Finally, it is in the election that every citizen shows his or her support. Everyone has a vote. This means every individual has values. In the election the President has a vote so does a citizen entitled to voting. Finally, your value is the same as those of the head of the state.
Therefore, under the democratic system, every citizen has value, and you should exercise your value correctly for your sake, for the sake of your country, for the sake of your state. With this kind of mentality, we can make much progress. We know we have many things to fulfil for the needs of our people. Please cooperate and collaborate for the fulfilment of these needs. We will try our best and you, our people, may try your best, too. It is, not a great government, but great people who make a great country.
A government may be great, but without the collaboration of the people, no progress can take place. After the World War II there appeared countries reaching the top, as well as war-torn countries, and the conqueror countries. The final victory is just momentary; what is important is the ability of the people who could transform the defeat or victory into their progress or success in the long run.
If the people are qualified, they can make victory no matter how many times they are defeated. Finally, they will win victory rather than defeat. So what I love about Kyar-in-Seikkyi is this region has been a dearly won region, and my heart is always with you. I would like to request you all to collaborate for the progress of the country and national reconciliation, unity and peace.
The State Counsellor then answered questions from the audience. The questions covered a wide range of topics, including water purification, constructing and upgrading roads and bridges, issuing small-scale mineral testing licenses, reopening the Myanmar-Thai border gate at Phayathonzu Sub-Township, electrification, reducing the number of Tatmadaw Hluttaw representatives from 25 per cent, the reason for the delay in amending Article 261 of the Constitution that can potentially grant federal status to ethnic regions, and the reason for amending Article 59-f of the Constitution.
The State Counsellor, Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe, State Chief Minister Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint, state ministers and officials replied to questions from the local residents on matters that can be immediately addressed, those that require long-term solutions and those that require further reviews.
Next, the State Counsellor gave a short speech where she said she wished to leave good legacies for the generations to follow and urged everyone to work together to create lasting valuable legacies. She then took a group documentary photograph with all those present.
From there, the State Counsellor visited the training school for the development of national races in Kya-in-Seikkyi. She greeted the students cordially, answered their questions, and gave them food and monetary assistance.
She then inspected the library, dormitories and the cafeteria.
Afterwards, the State Counsellor and entourage departed for Mawlamyine in the evening and visited the Strand Walking Street at night, giving support to the market stalls there. She also watched Mon traditional dance troupe performances at the Culture Show there. —MNA (Translated by Dr Zaw Tun, Aung Khin, Zaw Htet Oo)