State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity as Chairperson of the Central Committee to Implement the Development of Border Areas and Ethnic Nationals, visited Tachilek Township in Shan State yesterday.
The State Counsellor was accompanied by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Lt-Gen Ye Aung, and U Min Thu, and other officials when she departed by special flight from Nay Pyi Taw to Tachilek in the morning.
The State Counsellor and entourage were welcomed at Tachilek Airport by Shan State Chief Minister Dr. Lin Htut, state ministers, MPs, and departmental officials, and ethnic cultural troupes. The State Counsellor then met with local residents at Tachilek’s City Hall, where she delivered a speech.
People’s needs are same, government working to fulfill them
“It has been many years since I last visited but I’m thankful that the warmth and hospitality of the people has remained unchanged. With this trip I will have been to the northern, western and southern parts of Myanmar.
In all four corners of our country I have the same outlook that we are all part of the same Union because the wants and needs of all the people are mostly the same. I’ve noticed this ever since I first walked into the political scene in 1988.
I don’t want to forget that since I have always been asking the public what their needs are to get to know them better. And their answers are all the same.”
“In one particular case when I was in Kengtung some time ago, the farmers I was discussing with voiced the same matters with the farmers from Central Myanmar.
When I ask them what they need the most, the number one requirement is access to sufficient water supplies for areas without access to water. The second requirement is better means for transportation, third is electricity, fourth is education, and fifth is healthcare. No matter where we go in our country the people all have the same requests.
What this is showing is that our country still needs to accomplish a lot of developmental needs.”
“Only developed countries can fulfill all five requirements of the people I’ve just mentioned. The citizens of our Union are pointing out the need for similar development. This is why the first factor our Union Government needs to fulfill for the country is the rule of law. Some ask why implementing rule of law should be the first priority? This is simply because proper rule of law will allow us to implement sustainable peace and development, both sorely needed in our country. Everyone needs to chip in with fulfilling processes related to development efforts.”
“It is the same story with peace. Everyone needs to participate in bringing about peace and we first need to work hand-in-hand to implement the rule of law which will allow us to cooperate on peace and development for the nation. A country with no rule of law can never assure physical and mental security to its people. Lack of security leads to instability, which in turns severely impedes development. This is why I remind people to remember that we are all living in the same Union wherever I go.”
“I want our people to be reciting ‘We are the Union’ when they open their eyes in the morning and when they go to bed at night. This is my hope that it will foster a stronger Union spirit in them. We have numerous ethnic races in our country with different languages, religions, customs and slightly distinct historical backgrounds, but our modern national politics is the same for everyone.”
“Our country will soon be celebrating 75 years of being a sovereign state, meaning there are only 25 years left till we reach the centennial milestone. Now is the time for all of us to contemplate on where we are and what we have accomplished so far. The average person reaching 75 considers such things because it is not a youthful age anymore. For a person, we need to assess our lifelong contributions at that age, and our country is not long till it reaches a similar moment of reflection.”
“I want everyone to cooperate even more than they have for the betterment of the country before we reach the 75th anniversary. The most important component of national development is the will of the people. With the combined will of the entire population we can overcome any physical hardships.”
“Our Union Government wishes to establish a true federal Union because we think it is the most suitable course of action for the country. In a country like ours that needs to establish unity from diversity, we need to nurture understanding and mutual respect on one another. It is acceptable to love your own people but it will be a grave mistake to be intolerant of others because of this reason.”
“It is especially important for youths to adopt a correct mindset. Their advantage over the older generation is that they are not dominated by the past. The past can greatly interfere with the present and the future but this doesn’t mean we must forget the past. It means we, and for the most past the youths, must take constructive lessons to avoid committing the same mistakes as our predecessors.
If our youths adopt a mindset to accomplish the things our ancestors could not complete and to build a nation and society that our grandparents would take joy in, then we won’t need to worry of the future of our country.”
“The people of Tachilek will understand better than the observers that our country has slower development than some of the other countries in the region. We can amend physical development at anytime and I have the most absolute trust that our people can cooperate in that regard. Even if we compare with the rest of the world, the people of this country are no lesser than any other. We may be behind in some aspects due to a weak education system but our people have nothing to be downhearted when it comes to mental fortitude, perseverance, physical potential, and intellectual capacity.”
“However, we must bring these skills out into the light to be of any use. If you lock up your savings in a box and never take it out then it is not beneficial to you. You may need to invest where necessary, donate where needed, and spend on food. Money spent wisely is never wasted.”
“There was once an independence leader from India who said only the money you have spent is your money. He thought to himself that the money you hoard will not follow you when you die so only the money that you use is money that you own. My allegory, of course, highlights the need to use our skills and resources to be beneficial to ourselves and other people.”
“The best method to develop our nation and make it prosperous is the right for each and every citizen to make a decision, which is our democracy. Now, I don’t mean this in a political sense. We can contribute so much with the opportunities granted to us. For example, the five similar needs of the country I mentioned in the beginning of my speech needs the entire country’s participation to bring about any accomplishments.”
“I have a simple belief that nothing in this world is free. You get what you deserve. Even the things you think you got for free have hidden or intangible duties and responsibilities attached to them. Our National League for Democracy has dug up wells in villages facing water scarcity but we never did it for free because we worried people might not value it. It is human nature to value the things you have participated or invested in some way. Before digging any wells, we consider whether the people have the willingness to help in the endeavor or not.”
“We choose the village with the people willing to help in on digging the well in any way they can. Secondly, we consider if the village has a suitable place for building a well. We want the well to be accessible by everyone. We only agree to dig the well when everyone agrees on the factors relating to it. There is also a third requirement and this is if the people from the village can set up their own well preservation team. By doing this, the people will see that they did not receive the well for free and will greatly value their source of water due to their own participation in the matter.”
“This example highlights the same principles we need to adopt in the wider context of national development: first, the people need to be willing to participate, second, they need to have the compassion and knowledge to choose the best course of action for the everybody, and finally, the must have the perseverance to maintain the results.”
“It is the government’s duty to build roads and bridges for the people but the same people must maintain the infrastructure that was built for them, in whatever capacity they can provide support.”
It is known that the requirements of our people are the five points mentioned earlier. But sometime responsible government officials need to know details about the requirement and feeling of the people in each region. Only then can a situation created where the people and the government want to do things together hand in hand and with the same mindset.
Where ever I’m in, I try to meet with local elders and the people first to listen to the voices of the people, for them to understand the aims of the government and to become familiar and acquainted with one another. This is the aim. If there is a true understanding and trust between the people and the government in a country, there isn’t anything that this country can’t do.
When I’m in Tachilek, I need to know the requirements, expectations and concerns of the town folks of Tachilek. Our government values the people. I always say this. Some always talk about rights. What are the rights, how to get it and what to do. I prioritize duties and responsibilities. Only when each and every one does their duty can there be peace on this earth. Everyone must place emphasis on their duties and responsibilities and only then can there be progress in the world. The mindset must not be on what are my rights and to get it but what I can give and to give it. We must strengthen our mindset to become a person who can give. The ability to give is something to be proud of. It is shameful to have the ability to take. Don’t feel proud of how much you can take. This makes you a narrow minded and a slight person.
We elders must teach youths to be responsible and dutiful and we ourselves must be responsible and dutiful. If this spread all over our country, we’ll be able to establish a firm peace and development.
I’ll try to answer the best I can on the first matters raised. I want the people in the audience to stand up and ask questions. Among the audience, I saw public servants, town elders who are not public servants and youths. If possible, I want to hear questions raised by all. Public servants may have some difficulties in raising questions as they are cautioned to be aware of rules and regulations they are required to follow. I think the people will understand this.
The people should raise questions openly. Speak about your expectations, worries. Here too I want to caution a bit. Speaking out is not to say in a rude manner. I’m talking about the courage to speak out the truth. I’m not talking about saying rude things. Being rude is something not to be proud of. This is contrary to our culture. Our culture had many good things and it is good to value it. Ask openly and precisely. Questions should be short and to the point. We all must train ourselves to ask questions short and to the point.
The first matter raised here is to upgrade the Monghsat-Tachilek road to an asphalt or concrete road. I said that where there is water, road transport is important. Tachilek doesn’t appear to be scarce of water. It is not strange that the matter of road transport was raised. The State government seems to have a ready, prepared reply. In fiscal year 2018-2019, State fund 553 million will be used in priority roads where travel is difficult during raining season and where the ascents and descents of the roads are steep.
Depending upon funds obtained from the Union fund works will be conducted accordingly in fiscal year 2019-2020. To say this shortly and simply is to say that it is not possible to upgrade the whole road immediately. The worse places will be upgraded first. More will be done in next fiscal year. I believe that the State government will do it in this way.
I want to caution one thing to all who are in the administrative machinery. Don’t give promises easily to the people. Make sure that your promises can be fulfilled. Don’t give promises if you are not sure. If we say we’ll do and we can’t do, we’ll lose the trust of the people. Matters that could not be done should be told that it is not possible. Explain why it is not possible. This is what I consider a correct way and I want all members of the government to bear this in mind.
The second matter raised is for house owners whose houses where in the road area of the Tachilek town by-pass road. There were also 25 farmers whose lands were affected. All of them didn’t want cash compensation and just want a replacement land. We are raising this matter with Ministry of Agriculture so that Department of Agriculture can release back about 38.87 acres of land.
The solution here is simple. Some take compensation. Some don’t want compensation but a replacement land. We are discussion with Ministry of Agriculture. I trust the ministry will consider. But they are not promising. They wouldn’t say so unless they are sure. But they’ll try.
Third matter is employing required assistant doctors in Tachilek Hospital. Shan State department of medical services had informed Nay Pyi Taw department of medical services by letter on 29 October 2018.
The whole country is short of doctors, nurses and teachers. So these shortfalls could not be met immediately. Some places require expertise. Another is funding. Even if we have funding, we are unable to fill up places in some areas.
We’ll try to resolve this as soon as possible. Please don’t be reluctant to serve in far-off and distant places. Some don’t want to go to such places and I’m not blaming blames. This is natural. No one wants to go to difficult places. But let us think in different way. Isn’t it more satisfactory to live in a difficult place and raise the lives of the people living there?
It is inevitable that we’ll leave from this life one day or other. How much satisfaction will you have if you had stayed in easy places? There’ll be more satisfaction if you had worked for the benefit of the people living in difficult areas during your short life span. That is why don’t be afraid of serving in far and remote places. I don’t mean you’ll go and stay there forever. Don’t you want to serve your country and people during this short posting? I want to request this.
If you do this, the locals will be extremely happy. In rural areas, doctors and teachers are much respected and loved by the villagers. They’ll stand around you warmly. Value this. The warmth you felt living in a building in a city is not the same as the warmth you had when you live in a village.
We’ll try to fulfill the requirements of doctors and nurses in the hospital. But I can’t promise you how fast it’ll be. We have to think about the whole country. Ministry of Health allocates and assign according to requirement.
Union Minister Dr. Myint Htwe is always thinking about this. He put great emphasis on this. Nowadays, it is not about filling positions in the hospitals but also providing accommodation for them. Sometime lack of accommodation is an obstacle toward sending required staffs. I don’t want this to happen and we’re working toward resolving this.
Fourth matter is about staff house for a rural health sub-clinic in Tachilek Township, Kyotada Village. Land is already obtained. But we need to buy construction materials. I hope people can help out in this.
For a country to become rich, all must become collectively rich. As our country is not rich, we still need to spend accordingly. Just like a family. Rich family not only spent money but they waste them. Poor family spends it prudently. Children from poor families are quite disciplined. They know the value of money. They understand the requirement to help one another. That is why it is important during the time when we’re trying to develop to have this sort of mindset and not to develop for development sake only.
After the locals raised matters relating to requirements in education, health, road transport and farm land matter, Shan State Chief Minister Dr. Linn Htut and departmental officials explained about matters that can be resolved immediately and matters that will take time. The State Counsellor coordinated with officials to fulfill the requirements.
After the meeting, the State Counsellor took a documentary photo with the ethnic cultural troupes and then extended warm greetings with the local residents.
State Counsellor meets residents in Mongyawng, delivers speech
In the afternoon, the State Counsellor and entourage arrived in Mongyawng Tsp and met with local residents in the City Hall.
During the meeting, the State Counsellor said that the citizens of the entire country are facing the same challenges, which are related to national development and peace. Since our country is a Union, all the ethnic nationals within it need to foster mutual understanding and respect to establish genuine peace, said the State Counsellor.
The State Counsellor said everyone has their own unique value and while we may differ in physical appearances and mental perspectives, this does not give us reason to divided. She said constructing strength from this diversity is essential for the Union. She urged the residents of Shan State especially value peace as it is crucial to the present and future of the country.
The State Counsellor highlighted agricultural opportunities and advantages of Myanmar but said she does not encourage reliance on natural resources, urging instead to rely on the individual potential within ourselves. She said this is why education and healthcare are greatly emphasized. She also said it is important for the people and the staff who turn the administrative cog of the nation to be in harmony.
The State Counsellor explained that the point of enacting laws in society is to prevent a person from committing misdeeds upon another person and to provide security. She said Shan State has huge potential for development but pointed out that development and enrichment can lead to increased crime. She said it is important for the rule of law to develop in synchrony with national development. She also said we must have discipline from a young age so that we can support and maintain the rule of law when we become adults.
The State Counsellor said that humans need to live together to succeed and survive, and this is why it is so important for us to learn to coexist in harmony. She said Shan State can be a representation of a social congregation as it contains different ethnic races, religions, and languages. She said such diverse societies are thriving in other parts of the world and thus the same can be possible in Myanmar as well. She said we need to have the will to do so first, and that will must be based on the desire for peace. She concluded by urging the people to support the peace process so that it is implemented as swiftly as possible.
After her speech, the State Counsellor listened to the local resident’s reports for the education, healthcare, trade, and staff residences they require, explained the government’s policies and work processes, and then coordinated suggestions as necessary.
The State Counsellor then handed over food and other aid to the residents. After the meeting, the State Counsellor took a documentary photo with the ethnic cultural troupes and then extended warm greetings with the local residents.
Visiting the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda in Kengtung
Later in the evening, the State Counsellor and entourage arrived in Kengtung, where they were welcomed by department officials, MPs, and ethnic cultural troupes at Kengtung Airport. The State Counsellor and entourage visited the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda and offered oil lamps, flowers, and libations. The State Counsellor then paid obeisance to the ancient Buddha image within the pagoda and signed the pagoda’s guestbook. She also handed over donations for maintaining the pagoda over to Board of Trustee Chairman U Sai Hao Kham, who gave an honorary certificate in return. —MNA (Translated by Zaw Min, Zaw Htet Oo)