(Opinions expressed here are those of the author.)
Despite the clamorous condemnations and derogatory denunciations heaped on certain misconducts of your Government in the past, we, the pensioners (at least, most us) admire and respect your probity, benevolence and courage. You are still our hero on three counts. They are, first, your intrepid suspension of that infernal Myitson Project, second, your benevolent presidential decree that gave a substantial boost in our paltry pensions, and third, your righteous and resolute stand on the issue of illegal Bengali infiltrators from Bengladesh in Rakhine State against the concerted but unjustified pressure from the UN, UK, US, OIC and some muslim countries.
Another notable achievement of yours in the Public Welfare Sector is the highly visible vista of populace (including low-income people)conversing congenially with one anotherusing a variety of mobile telephones everywhere, both in the urban and rural areas. We all know how you have wielded your presidential clout to bring down the exorbitantly high cost of those cordless telephones to make them affordable to the common people. I doubt whether all those avid users of hand-phones from the lowly paid female paddy transplanters, boiled pea-sellers, trishawmen and taxi drivers to the filthy rich sons and daughters of the nouveau riche feel grateful to His Excellency, the President.
As traditionally cultured and courteous Myanmars, we should acknowledge anyone’s act of kindness and good will with due gratitude. Otherwise, we would be inexcusable ingrates. More so, if we imprecate our benefactors with invidious invectives like some of us are doing right now. Such ungrateful attitudes degrade one’s personal dignity.
No one is perfect. Everyone is fallible proving the truth of the saying, “to err is human”. As such, we should refrain from overly criticising anyone. It would be like “the pot calling the pan black” for we all are sinners according to the Christian Faith, meaning no one is lily white and innocent. Indeed, it is easier to criticise others. When it comes to self-criticism, no one is willing to practise it including myself. Frequently self-criticism is what we need to pursue. If everyone practises it, every now and then, it will lessen the personal friction between individuals and also schisms within societies. In the long run, it would even eventually lead to the national unity and countrywide peace that are integral to the nation building for all Myanmars.
If I live long enough (I am already 83 now) I would like to see what the next Government, Judiciary and Parliaments could do for us, the citizens of the Union. Would these State Power Organs be able to accomplish much better than the incumbent? It remains to be seen.
Right now, I hear more than my earful of clamours and clarion calls for “CHANGE”. What CHANGE would it be? Mere changes of certain sections in the Constitution will not do. The first and fundamental thing is to CHANGE OUR MINDS or MENTAL STATES. I don’t use the vogue word, the mindset, because it is a misnomer. In reality, the mind never sets. It is a fast rising and disappearing phenomenon or entity, transient and ceaseless. Since it is not static but dynamic, how it could be termed a mineset? Vipassnapractionersand veteran meditators understand the mind’s dynamism and transiency.
If we do not CHANGE OUR MINDS to suppress or get rid of those inveterate wicked propensities such as selfishness, avaricious grabbings, opportunism, lack of discipline, rebellious spirit, lawlessness, bellicosity, atavistic cruelty, intolerance, jealousy and envy (what our beloved Bogyoke Aung San had so aptly dubbed the execrable habits of Myanmars) it would not work, even with the dramatic changes in political scenarios. CHANGE of these evil habits of mind or even better, the eradication of these mental impurities is a must, first and foremost. But no one seems to be aware of it. Our political parties should pay more attention to the training of mental CHANGE and character improvements for both young and old, instead of vociferously voicing the party slogans for the election victory.
Regarding those illegal Bengali (Bangladeshi) infiltrators in the Rakhine State, it simply involves the two countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The problem has to be solved bilaterally. If requested by both countries, the UN should act as an impartial arbitrator or mediator. But now it is not so. Why Myanmar alone has to bear the brunt of the blame? We Myanmars are flabbergasted and incensed. Why not blame Bangladesh also for the “boat people”. They are not refugees really although they seek refuge in Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries just for better living conditions. Just because their Government could not look after them well, they are fleeing from their country. Thus, the Bangladesh Government is also culpable in our opinion.
As for those allegations on the mistreatments and abuses of human rights toward the muslim minorities in this country, they are simply risible. We wonder why the human rights nuts in the UN and OIC DON’T slap PRC and Japan with the same sort of censure. Is it because these two countries are economic giants with formidable political power? Or is it just a case of “stabbing the spear into the low ground ( a metaphorical maxim of Myanmars) meaning, in this instance, the bullying of puny and powerless country by the Big Powers. Please don’t forget that Myanmar is still an LDC.
It is common knowledge that the UN and those oil-dependent western countries are shamelessly kowtowing to the whims and wishes of the oil-rich muslim nations. It is immoral! Personally I feel that OIC’s main concern should be the unity, harmony, love, peace and welfare among the global muslim communities. Her inability to negotiate and bring peace and harmony between Sunni’s and Shiites and many other smaller sects in the Middle East, is indeed a fiasco. Pardon me, if I sound brash and brusque. But it is the truth nothing but the truth.
Except for a few, most of the pensioners, especially the lower rank people, are penurious, if not outright impecunious. For more than two decades, my monthly pension pay of K.1250 was a mere chicken feed, not enough even for a day’s subsistence. I retired as a Deputy Director General. Just imagine how pathetic would be the plight of those government servants of lower ranks. Now my pension pay has risen to K.141,754.29 per month. Although it is not much with the present-day prices of commodities and cost of living, it is something. It could take care of my monthly medicinal expenses to some extent. So it would be for other pensioners too. No wonder we pensioners feel deeply grateful to the President and all those people who have been instrumental in making our pensions substantially increased. It is not a small feat. In fact, it is a bench mark benevolence of one good man and his company of equally good comrades and assistants in the different organs of State Power. We thank you all very much!
It took both physical and moral courage for the President to suspend that maleficent Myitson Project braving the wrath of and tremendous pressure from the indignant investors. Realistically disturbance and destruction of natural geographical setting, scenic environment, ecological system and biodiversity far outweigh the claimed expected benefits from the regional development and modernization. That is why we all want it terminated once and for all. In fact, this potentially pernicious Project should be summarily scrapped off for the good of our country.
As an ill consequence of unseasonal sustained heavy rains, a very recent devastating deluge ravaged the vast stretches of the Rakhine State, Chin State, Upper Myanmar and some parts of Shan State, killing people and animals, and destroying properties and crops with fearsome floods, landslides and dam bursts. It was rather horripilating! Just imagine how a dam of Myitson magnitude would play havoc with cities, towns and other riparian villages teeming with the people along the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River downstream, once it bursts through adverse weather conditions. The dam builders and their clients, the investors (whoever they may be)certainly have no control over highly erratic weather conditions and calamitous climatic changes. Anyway, it is a dire threat that we all should not permit to come into existence ever.
Keep it up, Mr. President! We, the pensioners, are right behind you! You and your Government have done well, of course, within limits. If you would have decided to run for the second term presidency, we would certainly root for your election victory. You deserve it rightfully.
With the uncertain future still lingering for the complete closure of that diabolical Myitson Project, we all are very worried. We do understand that you have done your utmost, so far. It is, however, our wistful thinking, that if it could be terminated for good, during the tenure of your presidency, how wonderful or great as Americans say. If that really happens, your name and your Government will be cherished forever not only in the annals of history of Myanmar, but also in the hearts of all patriotic Myanmars.