To put an end to the armed conflicts that we have witnessed for over 70 years, we should see what salutary lessons we can gain from the bitter past.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Following is the Speech delivered by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 73rd anniversary of the Union Day celebration in Panglong.

(12 February 2020)

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  Photo: mna
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  Photo: MNA

May I first of all wish health of body and peace of mind to you, our brothers and sisters present on the 73rd anniversary of the Union Day celebration. I am happy to see the ethnic armed organizations who have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and those who have not yet done so to be present on this Union Day celebration.
We all value the Union Day as a day that brought about the unity and the union spirit of all our national races. Now I would like to take this opportunity to give you a brief account of how the Panglong Conference had come to exist, and how we had undergone the hardships and obstacles.
When Myanmar fell under the British colonialists, the hilly regions and the central plains were governed separately; when the time came to grant independence without fail, attempts were made so that the hilly regions would be left out from enjoying this great opportunity. So the then AFPF government, leading the interim government, made every effort to ensure that the independence must be restored to both the hilly regions and the central plains. In January 1947, a Myanmar delegation led by Gen. Aung San went to England and held talks with the representatives of the British government to grant independence for the whole country without excluding the hilly regions. It was during the discussions that some Sawbwa council members of the Shan State sent a telegraph to the British government, stating that Gen. Aung San was not a representative of the Shan State. As a result, the discussions came to a halt temporarily. But the youths of the Shan State Independence Association held a mass gathering in Taunggyi, and there they made a unanimous decision saying that Gen. Aung San and the delegation were the genuine representatives of the people of Shan State, and then sent a telegram to Gen. Aung San and the British Prime Minister in London. Then the discussions were resumed, once again, and the Aung San-Attlee Agreement, which set a milestone for regaining the independence of Myanmar, was signed on 27th January 1947.
The Aung San-Attlee Agreement stated that the wishes of the hilly regions must be ascertained whether they would like to stand together with the central plains, and accordingly, there was a need to hold a conference. So Gen. Aung San held discussions with the leaders of the Shan, Kachin, and Chin in Panglong, the Shan State. The Panglong Treaty was successfully signed on 12th February 1947, that measures would be taken for regaining the independence, simultaneously, for the whole country of Myanmar, including Burma Proper, the Federated Shan States, the Kachin Hill Tracts and the Chin Hill District. That day is now known as Union Day.
Today marks the 73th anniversary of signing the Panglong Agreement. You can assume that the word “Panglong” is the key word representing the Union. What is the most important point for the emergence of this agreement of great significance is the collaboration of the people. In other words, this acknowledges the democratic values, which mean the inclusiveness of the people, and which are essential for the achievement of the important matters for the country.
Secondly, I would like to draw your attention to one short statement that was included in the Agreement. That sentence reads thus: “Freedom will be more speedily achieved by the Shans, the Kachins and the Chins by their immediate co-operation with the Interim Burmese Government”.
This statement highlights the fact that it is only through the collaboration of all national races that the important matters of the state could be implemented speedily, more efficiently. If we consider these two points, in order to successfully build the democratic union, it is obvious that the cooperation and collaboration of the people, of the national races, are quite a pressing demand. This is, of course, the Union Spirit – a spirit which will never grow old and one which we should effectively hold dearly forever.
It has been over seventy times that 12th February, the day of signing the Panglong Agreement has been celebrated. Ironically, it has been over seventy years that after we have regained our dearly won independence, our national races, our blood brothers, have been engaged in wars merely because of the conflicting policies and suspicions or lack of trust among ourselves. Up to the present the sound of guns can still be heard.
If we make a review of our history, we should not look at each other with the critical eye, putting blame on each other. That’s not the way we can find the right solution to our problems. Don’t look at what’s wrong with them. Look at your own faults. What’s been going wrong with all of us? What are the things we need to mend? That kind of critical point of view should be adopted. Why not adopt the new global views, and look at the union spirit that never grows old or stale? To put an end to our armed conflicts that have been going on over seventy years, we should see what salutary lessons we can gain from the bitter past.
Since the conditions of the world in relation with the history of our own country are also important, when we consider the past, we must not fail to perceive that the then related conditions were not the same as the related conditions of the present. It is very important to consider in what condition we should pass our country to the future generations. We all know what impact these seventy-year armed conflicts have made to the status of the development of our country. Our goal is to keep abreast with the other countries in the world, a democratic federal union with our own sovereignty.
The governments of the successive periods have tried their best to put an end to the armed conflicts and restore peace to our motherland, but have not yet achieved the goals of peace. Ceasefire agreement has been only the highest form of agreement, and the sustainable peace has not yet been built. Why? Because, as our government believes, the political problems among us, which are the root of the problems of the armed conflicts, have not yet been settled, as has been highlighted in the message of the President.
Therefore, today, while the Union Government has been making efforts for national reconciliation and peace, the Union Peace Conference- 21st Century Panglong conferences have been held, which are the political talks for building the democratic federal union, which has been the dream of all national races. It was named the Union Peace Conference- 21st Century Panglong because the long-desired independence was successfully regained through the united spirit of 20th Century Panglong. This we should recall and reflect, and stand united ever again. We all should bring along the united spirit of 20th Century Panglong, and hold talks at 21st Century Panglong in relation with the times and circumstances of the present. Then we shall regain, with our collective strengths, the everlasting peace, which is now as important as our life and soul.
Our ancestors have founded this nation. If we want this union, the country whose independence our ancestors have stood united and fought for, to stand till to the end of the world, it is important to build the democratic, federal union that we shall agree upon and accept, that fits in the related conditions of the 21st century. Of course, we have different views and different beliefs. But the goal of everyone is no doubt building the democratic federal union founded on national equality and national unity. Well, how shall we shape the democratic federal union? We may have different approaches, but to reach the common goal, if we have farsightedness, and try unitedly, I believe, there is nothing that can stop our success.
As our national leaders successfully worked it out with the exercise of farsightedness at the 20th century Panglong Conference, so we will unfailingly be able to successfully build the democratic federal union if we, brothers and sisters of national races come together and work it out with farsightedness and unity.
Before I conclude my talk, I would like to draw your attention to the portraits of our fathers of the Panglong Agreement right before you. It was these great leaders who collaborated and agreed to build the union. They collaborated with the exercise of farsightedness, wisdom, magnanimity, and the spirit of taking risks. The spirit of taking risks is related to magnanimity. If you are magnanimous, if you are broadminded enough, you have the courage of setting out to do things that you have never done before. Only the narrow-minded people continue to confine themselves as the prisoners of the past. You know, they just stick to the old needs and the old demands in the old styles, as before.
The fathers of our union did it, equipped with novel visions and courage, that we would found our nation in the way we had always dreamed of, in the period we lived. We all should do that way to achieve our goals. I would like to conclude my talk that in the present period we are now living, we must have the courage, wisdom and farsightedness that, though nobody has ever done before, we shall do what we should do according to the needs of our country and our world. I would like to request you all to cooperate and collaborate without fail. Thank you. (Translated by Dr Zaw Tun)

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