A ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of Union Day was held in Panglong, Shan State, yesterday with an opening speech by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Along with the many government representatives in attendance, there were also the sons, daughters and relatives of those who signed the Panglong Agreement exactly 70 years ago, each of whom met the State Counsellor, who is also a daughter of a signatory, her father, General Aung San.
It would be a day of remembrance for those who signed the Panglong in 1947, but also a hopeful reminder for those participating and following the 21st Century Panglong this year.
Yesterday’s ceremony started with a salute of the national flag, remembrances for our fallen national heroes and the singing of the national anthem.
Young women representatives from the Chin, Kayah, Kayin, Rakhine, Mon, Kachin, Shan and Bamar ethnic groups took turns reading aloud different clauses written in the Panglong agreement.
Next, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a speech in which she spoke of the country’s rich history and bright future.
The State Counsellor visited the booths displaying photos of the signatories of the 1947 Panglong agreement and their memorials, and also greeted the sons, daughters and relatives of the signatories.
The ceremony was followed by the Panglong Peace Talk, in which the State Counsellor and twelve ethnic people participated.
In attendance at the event were representatives from government including Union ministers, the Shan State Chief Minister, the Chairman of the Peace Commission Dr Tin Myo Win, Lt-Gen Yar Pyai of the Ministry of Defence, Commander of Eastern Central Command Maj-Gen Than Hlaing, chairmen of the Danu and Pa-O self-administered zones, representatives from political parties and members of ethnic groups.
The second Panglong Conference was held in Panglong, Shan State, from 3rd to 13th February, 1947, and the historic agreement was reached in a conference between the then-government led by General Aung San and 23 representatives of the ethnic people.
The following is the full text (unofficial translation) of the speech delivered by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the 70th Anniversary Union Day ceremony held in Panglong, Shan State.
I’d like to greet all the people and the distinguished guests now present at the Union Day Ceremony. We gather here to recognise the Union today. Panglong is not merely a part of Shan State but a important part of the entire union. This is where the foundation of the very unity of the union was laid down.
Of the points contained in the Panglong Pact just read out are studied, the union was first established on the basis of consultation, discussion, co-ordination and agreement. The term Panglong, a very simple, short name, is pleasing and exciting to the hearts of all genuine Union people. Panglong is recognised not as a ceremony but as a very valuable part of history.
The history never ends, it’s always moving on. So the leaders of struggle for independence began the history of Panglong. It is incumbent upon us now for this listing to conclude successfully.
No one can escape history. Successive generations will judge our actions in their respective period till doomsday. This being so, we must ponder over how we’ll face the decisions by the tribunals formed with the generations to come. We need to defend ourselves with our heads raised upright.
Our people, I hope, are all well-versed in the affairs of the state. In one of his famous poems, it is said, “Regardless of excellence in warfare and regardless of the sharpness of the weapons used, all the swords and spears will become blunt if we cannot win the hearts of the people and if we do not rely on the strength of the people.”
This being so, our main strength lies in the hearts of the people and their strength. To be able to win the hearts of the people, we need to be farsighted, courageous enough to take risks in the interest of the generations to come.
People know very well who really makes sacrifices and takes risks only for their own sake. There is a saying, “Many can be fooled for a short time but everybody can never fooled all the time.”
People know very well who will bring benefit to them. What’s most valuable and beneficial to the people is nothing but peace. So I’d like to request that all be involved in peace talks on this Union Day. Be courageous and take risks for the interest of the people. Sacrificing and taking risks are the supreme courage. My father told me that the
courage to defend is not the real courage. To be defensive is the real courage. To be on the defensive is the real courage. To be on the defensive means doing what should be done and being ready, prepared to bear the consequences resulting from what is done. This kind of courage is the real courage. What made Panglong a success was based on the belief on the part of indigenous races.
At a time when we are discussing peace, we repeatedly talk about trust. To build genuine confidence, the majority understand that we need to build trust amidst the diverse groups. As for me, self confidence matters most in building trust.
What’s required in the first place for all groups involved in the peace process is self-confidence — we must believe in ourselves that we are able to do good for the country through peaceful means. When we have such confidence, the peace conference will be all-inclusive. Believing in ourselves that we have goodwill (cetana) to do the best for our country, our Union and believing in our capacity can lead us all to participant in the 21st Century Panglong conference. How can you trust other groups when you do not trust yourself? It’s quite difficult to do so. Therefore, you build self confidence first. You approach Panglong with the spirit that you can do good for the generations to come.
No one can escape history, it is said. We’re now trying to make a historic task. If we can strengthen the history of our union in our days, the generations to come will be able to enjoy the fruitful results of our effort now.
Nothing is achieved easily. We haven’t achieved peace across the nation since the post independence period. There are battles taking place between and among us in one place or another as you all know. To achieve peace is an opportunity as well as a duty. I want you all to take this chance effectively.
A world famous political scientist once said that to achieve success in politics requires three factors. The first factor is being loyal to and have love for the cause we believe in. The second factor is duty conscientiousness. Lastly, the third factor is having truthful, discrete mentality.
So we must be able to correctly judge the (possible) consequences of our actions.
The cause we believe in on this Union Day is to achieve peace for all. Peace is the cause we believe in. We must be loyal to and cherish the peace process. We must really cherish it. Although you say you want peace, you’ll behave quite contrarily to peace if you really don’t cherish it.
And we must be truthful to peace. To be loyal to peace, we must all be brave, daring to take risks. This is loyalty. And the second factor is duty conscientiousness, without which nothing valuable can be achieved correctly. The third factor is discretion, which means the ability to make correct judgement of the consequences arising from our own actions.
Now, through the second Panglong, we have to exert effort to achieve everlasting peace within our union. I mean our peace must be eternal till doomsday. We need to make the correct judgement as to what consequences will arise from our actions. When I mentioned the word correct judgement, I mean we must be truthful to ourselves. This has a connection with duty conscientiousness. We must ponder if we are weak or is it the other persons who are weak. Before telling others to amend their weakness, we must overcome our own weaknesses first. In this regard, we must use our discretion to guess the possible consequences that can arise from our own action.
Ponder well over which is more important to achievement of peace — the physical ability or the intellectual ability. Now, we are not on good terms with one another because of disagreement, doubt and disunity. So, we’re fighting. When we choose to fight, we must rely on physical weapons. They are created by our human brain.
Except those created by nature, all physical things are the creations of our intelligence. They are born of our brain. Why don’t we use our brain for achievement of peace? We need to ponder why must we use our brain for destroying peace. We must use our brains to achieve peace only. Think it over, please. If we really use our brains for achievement of peace, I see no reason why we cannot achieve it.
According to scientists, human beings generally use only 10 per cent of their brain’s capacity, whereas the remaining 90 per cent is supposedly unused or sleeping. So, if we will use more than 10 per cent, let us say, 20 per cent, even if it is not 100%, for the peace, I mostly believe it is impossible that there is no way to achieve peace. This is our belief and our confidence.
So, let me say it again. Now, we are to build up our self-confidence. Didn’t we have confidence that we could reach our goal we wanted, by sitting in the conference for discussion? We need to have self-confidence. All the nationals with confidence in capacity of one’s mentality and intelligence need not worry about participating in the conference.
We have confidence concerning all the nationals. Therefore, I hereby want to request national ethnic groups who have not yet signed the ceasefire treaty until now, to have self-confidence in their own capacities. I would not say to trust us. I want to urge them to develop their self-confidence that they can move on to the goals they want, by seizing people’s support with their powers and their astuteness. All the populace wants peace. I firmly believe that there is no one who does not want peace among the ordinary people. Is it possible that they will not want peace for their peaceful existence and development, for peaceful existence of their descendants and future generation? Provided that we can assemble the powers of these people, there is no reason for our country to fail to develop. Now, our Union is facing with different kinds of challenges. It is not easy to set up a new system. Yet, we are now performing the tasks with the confidence that we must build a system with a firm belief.
National reconciliation is the foundation for the Peace of the Union. National reconciliation wholly depends upon the skill in consultation over different visions and attitudes. It can never be denoted that people with different views are wrong. Every individual has a limit, concerning right or wrong. Every person has weakness and strength. It is mainly responsible for a person to develop one’s strength and to get rid of his weakness himself. No one else can be blamed that the problem is attributed to his or her intervention, by pointing at others.
Intervention or other’s involvement is likely to be a problem. In our country, some people do not want national reconciliation and peace. This may be caused for their own sake or for other reasons. Yet, we need not be afraid of these negative minds and spirits. These can be overcome through our judgement, unity and courage. It can be regarded for us to make an effort to overcome these difficulties, as a help to sharpen our abilities. Whenever one year passes, we get new opportunities repeatedly. This is the vigor for us that the world gives. We name the New Year, but in fact, as the world is revolving on it axis and going around the sun, new years are appearing again and again. Likewise, new opportunities and new effects are turning towards us again and again. But, sometimes we fail to grasp it firmly at the most favourable time, we have to wait for these effects for many turnaround. How long would we like to wait for? We all cannot take responsibility for others else, apart from our own existences. Sometime or other in a period of time to come, all people from here will disappear from the world.
What we have left is historical heritage. I want people come here to pay tribute to the Panglong Monument, not only for paying tribute to the 20th Century Panglong but also for the 21st Century Panglong. When our descendants come here in the future, I want them see the place as the symbol of the Union and the symbol of the nationals’ qualifications of venturing to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of the people. I myself cannot see it any longer. Only our new generations will be able to witness this. Hence, I want you to leave a good legacy for them.
Good parents do not see only the present. They usually foresee the future. Good parents do not see only the period they can see with their own eyes while living. They generally foresee the legacy they leave after death. So, broad-minded parents, well-wishing parents reprimand their offspring for their future, for example, for their children to be bright in education and to be healthy. They will support them as much as they can. On the contrary, narrow-minded parents indulge their offspring, fulfilling them with physical needs.
It is necessary to ponder whether indulgence towards their children like these is for the children’s benefits or for their own sakes. It must be considered whether this indulgence is intended to show their affection towards their children or if hey want the love from their children. Likewise, in carrying out the tasks for the benefits of the country, we need to assess with bravery, whether we do it as we want people’s love and support or we do it as we love our people and for their better future.
Sometimes, we abandon our people’s satisfaction toward us in the interest of our citizens and for the betterment of younger generation’s future. For example, when we reprimand and force our children who do not want to go to school to send to school, the children will be annoyed with us. They may be conceived in their minds that my parents do not love me but I want play at home.
Parents who do not send their offspring to schools for fear of being annoyed by their children, in fact, do not love their children. They are indulging themselves. They want their offspring love them. We greatly value People’s love. We want to get their love. We have been doing political activities for nearly 30 years with the spirit of our reliance upon our people. Yet, we will never ever get their supports by means of harming their benefit. We will do everything for the betterment of the country.
Undeniably, peace is a jam of value for the new generation. We need to leave the jam as the legacy for our citizen. Natural resources are not important. Short term economic benefits are not important too. Any kinds of support including in election are not important too. These will vanish in a short time. Natural resources also will disappear sometimes in the future. Economy is likely to rise and drop in this world. Even the powerful country and economy happen to face economic crisis. If we can leave eternal peace as a legacy, this will be real legacy for them to spend for a long time.
I used to say the legacy left by my father is people’s love. This will not be lost how much I spent. But we should not spend it. We must value and keep it forever. In this way, I want the present generation and those trying for the Panglong conference to succeed to save and leave legacy of peace.
And, I want to request of national ethnic groups who have not signed yet the cease fire treaty to sign with bravery and self confidence. Join us in our 21st Century Panglong Agreement. If so, you can imagine how much they will be overjoyed and grateful to you.
Karma means deeds will result in effects. Karma is a deed, and here I do not mean deeds in the past. Deeds in past life cannot be managed. We can only manage deeds in the present life. Join us in the peace process with the spirit that our deed will result in effect. I firmly believe that this confidence will lead you to success. I only have the desire to help our national brethren. I never want anyone living in the country to be harmed in any way. We all are at the place the Panglong Agreement was signed, with the spirit of upgrading their benefits.
The 1st Panglong Agreement turned a page in history for our Union, so the people still remember it, until now. We deeply request you to open a new history book, and not be satisfied with just turning a page.
Thank you very much.—MNA