State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chairperson of the Central Committee for Development of Border Areas and National Races, accompanied by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Lt-Gen Ye Aung and U Min Thu and officials arrived to Kayin State, Hpa-an by helicopter yesterday morning.
The State Counsellor was welcomed at Hpa-an airport by Kayin State Chief Minister Nan Khin Htwe Myint, State Hluttaw Speaker U Saw Chit Khin, Kayin State minister, Hluttaw representatives, departmental officials, ethnic national cultural groups and local people.
From there the State Counsellor went to Hpa An town Thita Hta Man Aung Pagoda and paid homage to the pagoda offering flowers and water. She then made a cash donation for all round maintenance work of the pagoda to the pagoda trustees.
After wards the State Counsellor met with the local people at Hpa An town Zwekabin hall.
At the meeting the State Counsellor said the reason for holding a meeting with the people was to learn from the people. It was for the government, the public servants and the people to learn. It was to find a way of working together in cooperation in a democracy system. That was why when I hold such a meeting I don’t want personnel from the government administration in the meeting hall while people were on the outside. In such a setup both sides would not have the opportunity to learn from the other side. When I came the first time to Mt. Zwekabin in 1995, it was to pay homage to Thamanya Sayadaw and since then many changes could be seen.
At that time Hpa An town was not as big as now. Hpa An had developed to a certain level but the development was not adequate enough. There remained many requirements. These would be included when people made their submissions later. These were requirements in the entire country. It would be difficult to fulfill all the requirements of the country. Time would be needed. It had been for decades that the country had not developed and it would be impractical to develop such a country in three years. Yet there were developments even though the development had not reached a satisfactory stage. In fact we must never be at a stage where we were satisfied. If so we would not be striving hard and lose the will for it. We must strive towards developing year by year.
When I came by car back in 1995, I was able to learn about the situation in the small villages. Now that I came by air, I was not able to see the situation at village level. I lost some opportunities to know the situation of farmers and people at the grass roots level. On the other hand, as I came in by air, I was able to see clearly how developed Hpa An had become. This was a lesson for me. A view from a place is not the same as a view from another. Only when the views and thoughts are combined can we make our country develop fully. From Kayin State we were able to understand well the miseries of not having peace. We also saw clearly the changes when there was ceasefire and were on a road toward peace.
About two years ago a discussion was held with youths about peace. Youths from all around the country attended that discussion. A youth from Mandalay was there. Two youths from Kayin State were there. When they discussed the two youths from Kayin State knew the importance of peace and its value. They told of what they had seen clearly after achieving ceasefire and how the lives of the people had changed. The youth from Mandalay spoke honestly of learning there and then about it. As he was born in a peaceful region, he never had firsthand experience about the miseries and tragedy of internal conflict. It was not that he did not know as he was quite a well learned youngster who had much interest in the affairs of the country. He admitted that as he lived in a place where there was peace he did not know of the effect on daily lives when there was no peace.
He understood the importance of peace after hearing what the youngsters from Kayin State said. Locals in Kayin State had learnt from their practical life of the importance of peace. Therefore I strongly believed that the people here would work enthusiastically toward the success of the peace process. Only then can our country become a true democratic federal union. Our country has not become a full democracy yet. We are yet to be a country that practices a firm federal system. This was thought to be the goal of all. Some did not understand this. Some support it. Some were not interested. I would be repeating the same thing repeatedly if I were to speak to those who were not interested.
We should not be dis-interested in politics. Politics directly relate to us. Politic was about the affairs of the country. It was not about party politics or solely about winning an election. Democracy nowadays was about a government elected by the majority of the people. In other words it was a representative democracy. It was not a direct democracy. Our country had a population of more than 50 million. All were not at the voting age. Looking at those who were of voting age, not all could participate in the administrative machinery. A representative democracy system was a system that was practically appropriate to the will of the people. However it was not without faults too. People themselves were not faultless. As people who were not faultless created something it would not be faultless too. A renowned person said a democratic system was not good but other systems were worse. From whatever angle it was looked at, a system that represented the people cared for the people.
A system that represented the people would be a system that placed emphasis on the will of the people. This need to be noted and emphasis must be placed on the will of the people. The government members and public servants were also the people. But they were people who were given the rights to do things. Whether these rights were used for the country and the people or for themselves were to be decided by them. It would be a grave mistake if people in the government and the administrative machinery used these rights for their benefit. Personally it would be a great opportunity to gain much merits. Politically, it would be a great opportunity to benefit the country. Thus, use this opportunity well. Only through correct use can there be development for self, as well as for all. I spoke about this throughout our entire movement for democracy. Once there was an eastern saying that categorizes four types of government. The first was a government despised by the people. A little worse one would be a government feared by the people. A better one was a government that was praised by the people. But the best was a government whose existence the people did not know. If we reviewed our government’s performance through the past three years, we had not reached the best stage yet.
Because the people did not know about all that we had done, I concluded that we were not too bad. They thought this was their right. I like that. For example, the two youths from Kayin State first spoke about road transport at the peace discussion. After achieving peace road transport became better. Roads can be built with peace. Prior to that, as there were battles raging, roads could not be built. Due to improvements in roads, their lives developed. Within the three years more than 60 miles of road were built. Most would not have realized this and they need not too. The main thing was the changes in people’s lives. They were not looking at how many miles of roads constructed. But they knew the changes to their lives. It was the same when I was representing Kawhmu Township.
I had a sad experience on how successful the road communication was. After a child was killed in a road accident, I went to the child’s parent and the mother in tears told me of the death of her child. She said her child was not able to enjoy the good road that was built and that hit me very hard.
Those who did not look into it deeply wouldn’t realize how important it was but the roads were becoming better for sure. Whether they realize this or not a good government do such things. Our country was still going down the path of democracy. Cooperation of the people was required to achieve success. People need to notice this. For all to develop, all need to participate. It would not be possible to share the benefit of development if you do not want to part take in the development works. All need to do it hand in hand. Our country was not facing challenges only from the development side but from all sides. I have said this repeatedly. It was our choice whether these challenges were an opportunity or a problem for us. The important thing was to make it as an opportunity for us. Due to the challenges, we got to know the importance of collective strength. If we faced the challenges with unity, we would overcome it and reach our goal. People from Kayin State would be especially capable to teach the people in the whole country about union spirit. Teach all about it. The best way to teach was to practice it yourself. Do not teach by word but teach by action. People from Kayin State were to walk down a path that would enable their offspring not to experience what they had experienced from internal conflicts. If all aimed towards peace, we would achieve peace. Destabilizing the country more by taking opportunity of facing challenges would be akin to being disloyal to the country. It would be akin to not having metta towards the people. Such people and organizations would not benefit anything or anyone. They may look successful for a short while but in the long run they would never benefit the world they lived in. Kayin people were known for being loyal not only in this country but in other countries as well. Be an example on being loyal. Spread metta. There were many beliefs and religions in Kayin State. There were many ethnic nationals. People from Kayin State were to show how through this collective situation they achieved their goal successfully. Relevant departmental officials will now answer to submitted questions.
We will permit people to raise questions and to do this we would have to select who would ask the question. As we do not have time for all to raise questions, people should be disciplined. Do not compete towards raising a question. The main point was to get an answer to your question. If you were not permitted to ask a question, you can do so in writing. We have opened a complaint section. Questions should be mainly about our country and related to the benefit of the country.
Pre-submitted questions covering cross border travel and permission for foreigners, railroad connection, upgrade of bridges, traffic congestion, construction of roads and bridges, questions raised by five locals outside the meeting covering returning confiscated land, reviewing expansion of the school land and theft of motorcycle in Hpa An university and questions raised by 3 locals in the meeting covering construction of a new airfield for Hpa An, reopening village connecting road, existence of buildings that should not be on Strand Road in Hpa An, having adequate medicines in Kamamaung People’s Hospital, upgrading Kamamaung town into a township etc. were answered by State Chief Minister and departmental officials.
The State Counsellor added onto the replies made by saying that government need to assess and measure a feasibility of a work program. Decision on conducting a huge work could not be made without detailed study. Utilization of government could not be decided by looking narrowly. Demands and requests made from all over the country were reviewed and our aim was to fulfill all but priority had to be made and was implemented only after a practical study was conducted.
Arrangements were made to return land confiscated after 1988. In a country practicing democracy nothing could be done by verbal order alone. It would not be legal. Official decisions were made and instructions issued. Trespassing or illegal settling was not acceptable. It was violation of laws and rules. If people do not have a place to live, they should approach their respective state/region governments. Governments were to setup projects to provide for this, said the State Counsellor.
In conclusion, the State Counsellor spoke of receiving questions on land matters whenever meetings with people were held. Therefore, a priority program was being drawn up to return such lands to true owners. As people rely on agriculture the importance of land ownership was understood and the government was making it a priority to resolve these matters. Decisions were made after careful assessment according to the law without taking the administration’s side or the side of the people.
For some a country’s modernity and progress meant having modern buildings or having high technology. In her view a truly modern country provided both physical and mental security. The most important for a country to be modern was to have rule of law. People were bored with this word and were not interested in this. They were not interested in laws, rules and regulations. But a law was made by the people and it need to be fair and just.
A word of caution as made in my visits to state and region governments would be made here again. Engagement with the people was required. Both the administrative and government portions need to engage with people.
The state government was elected by the people. Even though public servants were not elected by the people, they become public servants because they wanted to. If they served for money alone or just to have a living it would not make them an honorable dignified public servant. As they became a public servant, they might just as well become a good public servant that were loved and respected by the people. If they were loved and respected by the people, they would never go hungry or face difficulties. If the people did not love and respect them, they would not feel good even if they were rich or live in peace.
The people, the government and public servants all had responsibilities.
All must not shirk their responsibility. Only then can the country develop. With such courage, Kayin State would become a safe, rich and developed State even if it had suffered from the ravages of internal conflict.
Finally, the State Counsellor apologized to the people outside the hall as this hall was not the type of hall in which she would want to meet with the people. This arrangement made the government on one side and the people on the other side. Instead of holding a meeting in such place, it would be better to meet with all in a big place outside, said the State Counsellor.
Later in the afternoon the State Counsellor visited a Japanese traditional silk weaving factory in Hpa An town Ward No. 6 to inspect the silk products production and took a commemorative group photo with the factory workers.
From there, the State Counsellor visited Yathe Pyan natural cave and inspected the interior of the cave. Afterwards the State Counsellor went to the Computer University (Hpa An) where the headmaster of the school explained about construction of staff house and students’ hostel while migrant workers working at the site discussed about their job opportunities and education and health of their offspring.
The State Counsellor commented that parents need to arrange for the education of their children and employers also need to help their employees’ children to attend school. The government was providing assistance to expecting mothers and children up to two years old and General Administration Department would help towards providing financial assistance.
Later in the afternoon, the State Counsellor went to Naungkamyaing village at the invitation of a villager present at the meeting with the people in Zwekabin hall and paid homage to Naungkamyaing Ywagyi monastery Sayadaw U Thumana and donated offertories.
She then met with villagers of Naungkamyaing village and discussed education, health and problems faced by the villagers. After this meeting the State Counsellor inspected development and construction works along Hpa An strand road by motorcade. — MNA (Translated by Zaw Min)