State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity as the Chairperson of the Central Committee for Development of Border Areas and National Races, held meetings with locals in Dabayin and Shwebo townships of Sagaing Region yesterday.
Her entourage included Union Ministers U Min Thu, Lt-Gen Soe Htut, Dr Aung Thu, U Ohn Win, Dr Myint Htwe, Dr Win Myat Aye; Deputy Minister U Hla Maw Oo, Chief of Myanmar Police Force Police Lt-Gen Aung Win Oo and officials.
First, the State Counsellor held a meeting with local people at the sports ground in Dabayin Township.
At the meeting, the State Counsellor said, “First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to you, my dear people of Dabayin, for your warm welcome. I am sorry I have no chance to shake hands with you. We have the instructions issued by the Ministry of Health against handshakes for the sake of the quarantining the Coronavirus. So please excuse me for not shaking hands with you for the sake of the safety of all of us. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to make close contact with my dear people.
In such a public gathering, I make sure that every one of you is here out of your will, and not by force. When we want to dispatch a matter out of our own will, we are to participate and take our own responsibility. So, if we want to make progress in our country, it all starts with every individual taking individual responsibility. This is the most important step for all of us.
We all want democracy purely because we want to create our own destiny and build our own life. For this purpose, it is very important for each of us to be a person who deserves such an opportunity. If you don’t want others to keep control of you, you must start training yourself in the habit of self-control. That is why, wherever I visit, and meet my people personally, I always urge you to be disciplined, value yourself, and consider things about your own community and your society.
Only if we have been trained in the habit of being considerate to the other members of our community can our country have a chance to make progress. If you join an organization, for example, a scout association or a political party or an organization, because you join it out of your own will, you are required to follow the policies and rules of that particular organization.
What is the main point to consider is the aim and objectives of an organization. As the citizens of a country, this may lead you to consider what road the citizens want their country to take. Each and every individual must take it seriously, and understand it very well, and strive to the best of their abilities so that we can march forward straight. I often stress that it is through the individual’s efforts combined with the collective strength of the people that our country will be able to make progress.
I would recall what my father said during the post-war period, before Myanmar regained her independence. Because our country had suffered severely during the wartimes, if we want to keep abreast with the other countries, we must set ourselves running while the other countries are walking. Now we have the same situation. Our country has been included among the least developed nations in Southeast Asia. So if we want to catch up with the world, we must set ourselves running. If, however, we walk as the others do, we’d be lagging behind. For example, we want to upgrade our education so we have made great efforts. Within these four years, our universities have better ranking in the world. This shows signs of progress, but if compared with the universities of ASEAN countries, our ranking goes low. This means the other ASEAN countries have set themselves running faster than we do. No wonder, their ranking goes higher, and regionally, our ranking remains lower. So I said, we must make greater efforts.
One thing I often draw your attention to is a wealthy family is not the same as a poor family. When coming back home from school, the children of a wealthy family find the dinner table already laid. On the other hand, the children of the poor family have to help their parents first. Ours is like the latter case. If we want to make progress, we must make contributions of our own. And this is a good chance for you to be proud of yourself. Never adopt a negative attitude that we have to work very hard, but the positive attitude that we were born to do something for our country, that we have the privilege of contributing towards the progress of our country, that we have the citizens endowed with such special chances.
As for me, having a chance to work hard for our country is a thing of pride for us. We make our own decision, and out of our own will, we contribute towards the progress of our country, which is a great source of satisfaction and bliss for all of us. So I want the inclusiveness of all in this mission. During my visits all over the country, the local people’s support and encouragement are very important, but such support shouldn’t be a sort of blind support to us. That is why we hold public meeting so that our people will have a chance to get to know what the government is doing while the people will have a chance to discuss with us and make proposals. We must have a chance to hear your needs, your expectations and your worries that you express openly. That is why we always welcome your questions.
If it turns out that we have no more time left for discussion, you still have a chance to send your complaints to the section of complaints. Please feel free to mention your name, your address and the statements that you want to inform us. You must mention your name and your address so that we can respond. Another reason is that you must have a brave heart to speak out what you think is right. You don’t need to hide your identity. If you are saying the right thing, you must not fail to mention your name and your address. So please mention your name and address. You can make contact with us. Mentioning your name and address means you stand bravely for what you believe is right.
During our visit to Dabayin, the local people may forward questions and proposals, but we must consider if these are local issues or the issues related to our country. The latter cases are usually the supply of drinking water, road transportation, electricity supply, healthcare services, and the sector of education, and very often, the issues of land ownership, ownership of the cultivated lands, and transfer to the rightful ownership.
In fact, these are the issues common throughout the country, and I would like to inform our people that we are trying our best to sort them out. For example, the supply of drinking water. It is the most important case for our people. Those living in shortage of drinking water know the troubles very well. So we have given priority to fulfilling the need of the sufficient supply of drinking water throughout the country.
Another important sector is road transportation. That’s what we all want, what we all need. It is very important for the regional development, as well as for the sectors of health and education. Going to school or hospital would be a problem if there is no good road transportation. The consequences could be many.
I think I don’t need to exaggerate the need for electricity. We want to make sure our people get the electricity supply. One point I often point out is that electricity doesn’t merely mean just switching on the light at night. More than that. Electricity must guarantee that our people have a greater right to create our own destiny and build our own life.
I don’t think I need to stress the importance of health and education. But what draws my attention these days is the people forward more cases of healthcare, and the forwarded cases are not merely related to fundamental healthcare, but the needs for advanced healthcare. This, we assume, implies that our country has more or less made progress in fundamental healthcare. I remember that two or three years ago the cases forwarded by the local people were related to fundamental healthcare.
To sum up, I realize, therefore, that our public gatherings like this truly reflect the changes taking place in our country. We always welcome the matters, related to the needs of our country, that you forward to us. I would like you to come up with the questions, as well as proposals, that are not self-centred, not directed to personal interests, but regionally oriented, for the sake of local needs, for the sake of the interests of our community, for the sake of national needs.
After the speech of State Counsellor, local people reported on upgrades of road, rural clinics, school, irrigation tunnels, electrification, school building, cancelling collection of vendor charges, compensation for confiscated lands, return of seized land plot, land disputes, complaint against court judgment, reconstruction of township market, and legal actions of Anti-Corruption Commission against local departmental officials.
The State Counsellor, the Union Ministers and local officials responded to the questions raised during the discussions and gave advice and comments to ensure coordination.
After the discussions, the State Counsellor said, “We got to know the hopes, worries and issues concerning our citizens. And we were able to see the shortcomings of our people at the same time. In developing a nation, we cannot merely view things from an optimistic perspective. We need to be aware of our shortcomings and think of ways to amend them as well.”
“I notice that residents of Dabayin are quite eloquent. This has its advantages but I urge you to also consider keeping things short and to the point. This will allow other people more opportunities as well. If you spend ten minutes for yourself, then it will end in about five people losing their two to three minutes to talk. You need to consider this.”
“We need to consider the matters of other people and issues in addition to our own as we establish a democratic nation. We cannot focus just on our own matters. We need to be considerate of other people as well. We need to value the needs of other people as much as we do to our own.”
“I admire the fact that people in Dabayin are quite enthusiastic. But enthusiasm has the potential to be both beneficial and detrimental. Enthusiasm that is genuine and properly harnessed can be a strong driving force for national development. But using it to fulfill the sole needs of yourself or your community can have more negative consequences.”
“That is why I want to remind the enthusiastic people of Dabayin to always think about the benefit of the nation. I want everyone to think of what each of you can provide or undertake for transforming our Republic of Myanmar into a genuine democratic republic.”
“If you are capable of making reports concerning your benefits, then there is potential for you to excel in processes that benefit everyone. I urge all of you to use your skills mainly for the benefit of the nation and I wish for peace and prosperity on all of Dabayin.
Next, the State Counsellor and party proceeded to Shwebo Township by helicopters.
During the meeting with local people at the city hall, the State Counsellor said, “I’m very much delighted to come to Shwebo, a land of victory. I’d like to express many thanks for your warm welcome. We came here not to talk about instructions but to create ‘give and take’ information exchange among one another during our journey to reach out to the people. In the same way, we as a Government have an opportunity to get the people informed. Therefore, I consider this as a ‘give and take’ information exchange programme between the people and their government.
“We went to one place after another to find out not only similar problems but different issues as well. We have to talk to the people the same things in one place, however, we have to give information differently in another place. This time I have to say the health issue as a priority. Why? The reason is that it’s a critical issue for our country. You all know that the COVID-19 disease has been spreading across the world. We haven’t found any confirmed cases yet in our country. Apart from just a few patients being under quarantine and treatment, I’m not sure what the results will be. We need to have a very cautious measure not to let the infectious disease spread in our country. Hands to hands are the easiest way to get infected with the disease. We all need to wash hands with hygienic gel and avoid shaking hands with each other. We need to say again the people should take good care of themselves but shouldn’t stay without precaution.
“We need to understand one another. Understanding enables us comfortable with each other. I’ve learned it. Discipline in one place is not the same as in another one when we meet with locals. Some audiences are strictly disciplined. Yet, some may have been more active than disciplined. Whatever it is, we need to realign the balance. We need to have both the discipline and activism. That’s why all can participate to develop our country.
“When I meet with the people I do exercise ‘give and take’ exchange of views all the time — learning from them and giving information to them at the same time. We’ve convinced how we, as a Government, have to fulfill them whenever the people have been raising their requirements and proposals. I’ve noted that people may have a lack of understanding of legal issues, especially the laws and directives on ownership of lands. We are planning an easy-to-understand programme for the people in this regard. We need to understand legal affairs to ensure a rule of law. Our people try to understand first what the laws are for.
“The main feature of the laws is for peace and stability in the community. The same basic principle we can see is in the ownership of lands. Two persons supposedly own the land. Their conflict may have turned to violence such as a fight with fists or knives. Instead, they need to resolve their problem legally. It’s more appropriate for one another. Laws are enacted in this way. Laws aren’t right forever. It is the people that have invented to enact the laws. Human beings are drafting and enforcing laws.
“We should change the laws if necessary. Sometimes, we have to abrogate the laws. We have to substitute the laws where necessary. In this way, we need to get the laws live up to the circumstances. To enforce the laws is correlated to the current situations. Their existence may have ended if they aren’t suitable for the necessities of the people. We have the laws of land ownership to hand over the confiscated lands to original owners as well as the virgin soil and uncultivated land to private owners.
“The laws are many and varied. It is the Hluttaw, a legislative pillar, that drafts, enacts and makes them enforced. So the Hluttaw has been taking the leading role to ensure the rule of law upon the people.
“The Government takes the administrative pillar. It has to perform day to day State affairs. It has to implement the matters of the State. In so doing, it has to do under the rule of law without breaching them. Here I want to quote ‘Nobody is above the law’. Even however minor individuals in the country can’t be above the law. Any pity and privilege can’t be considered upon them. Courts may have taken into account ‘sympathy’ upon them. Only following the laws without any sympathy on the people may turn to extremes and toughness upon the people as a saying goes ‘Sympathy can uphold the righteousness of the laws’. If we allow them forgiveness with extra-sympathy, we can’t control them in order under the rule of law even leading to anarchy status. The stability and security of the people can be disrupted in an anarchic country. The Government, an administrative pillar, has to carry out the laws enacted by the Hluttaw. The administration itself shall have to abide by these laws.
“Another one is the judicial pillar. It is basically to decide what is right and what is wrong according to the laws, through the courts. The laws may have different interpretations. The courts and judges shall have to hear the cases based on those different interpretations of the laws. They have to decide which side is right. We need to accept the fact that all the decisions made by the judges at the courts are correct and right. Judges may err since they’re simply human beings. There are the appeal cases at upper courts or supreme court because the decisions of lower courts may have been wrong. The highest court or supreme court has to make final decisions. This is the rule of law.
“If we ask a question: ‘Is there any corruption in the judicial pillar?’ The answer is yes even around the world. We need to control it. To do this, our people take the most important role. We have attained these three pillars with people’s wisdom and mindset. They need to carry on in the right way since all dignitaries of these three pillars are simply from the people.
“That’s why we all are the people wherever they’re with the Hluttaw, the judicial pillar, judges and legal officers, etc. They might be right. They might be wrong. All should try their best. We all do our best from the beginning. What I want to mean ‘since we are young’.
“You see the children in the front row. They should have the correct mindset. With this, they dare to do the right thing. It’s not enough. They shouldn’t be indecisive to do the right thing by giving the reasons for laziness or fear or hardship or difficulty. They need to decide what should they do in the right way. That’s education.
“So people should learn to develop our country. They need to ask themselves how they can do to give their best to the country. They don’t need to look around. When we went to some places the people asked us whether the government is doing this and that, etc. We accepted their questions and thank you all for reminding us of our benefits. It is part of our dignity. However, people shouldn’t forget that they also need to involve in certain things. Their participation is also very important.
“Our people should try hard to be good citizens of our country. I also believe in you. I’m confident that people can do their best. We should hand over good legacies to the next generation.
“We have the present moment. We own it according to an intelligentsia. So we should need to decide how to use the right moment to improve and develop our country and the people.”
After the speech, the local people discussed requirement of rural clinics, compensations for confiscated lands, land permits, illegal fish breeding ponds, electrification, needs for fire engines and water bowsers, new school buildings, land disputes, renovation of a bridge and the constitution amendment process.
The State Counsellor, the Union Ministers and local government officials responded to the discussions.
She also advised the locals to learn about the global outbreak of COVID-19 on newspapers and media platforms of the Ministry of Information as the death toll from this virus has reached to hundreds even in developed countries.
She finally made a wish for peace and wellbeing of the local people.
The State Counsellor instructed the administrative officials to reply to the remaining 26 questions of the local people on health, transportation and land disputes.
She also visited Aung Myay (Victory Land) pagoda in Shwebo Township, and offered flowers, water, lights and gold leaves as robes to the Buddha image. Then, she made wishes at the Victory Land of the pagoda.
The State Counsellor and party arrived back to Nay Pyi Taw in the afternoon.—MNA (Translated by AungthuYa, Dr Zaw Tun , Aung Khin)