State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the Committee for Development of Rural Areas and National Races, held public meetings with the local people in Leshi of Naga Self-Administered Zone and Bamauk township in Sagaing Region yesterday.
The State Counsellor, accompanied by Union Ministers U Min Thu, U Ohn Win and Dr Myint Htwe; Deputy Ministers Maj-Gen Aung Thu and U Hla Maw Oo, Chief of Myanmar Police Force Police Lt-Gen Aung Win Oo and officials, left Homalin for Leshi by helicopters.
During a public meeting with the locals in Leshi Township, the State Counsellor said. “Although I arranged to visit here last year, the weather did not favour me to do so. This year I made it a point to be here so here I am. I want to meet with the local people. Every corner of the country has equal value for us,” the State Counsellor said.
She added, “Difficulties of local people could be imagined from aerial view of the region. I want to see better living conditions of national people who are living in small houses on the mountain slopes for the livelihoods because it is important for the future of our country.
The value of a country can be determined on how much its people feel secure about their lives. Therefore, we want our children to attend our meetings. Children should have political knowledge. They need to understand politics is concerned with all. No one can stand alone. Human beings are interdependent. So, we need to live in harmony with peacefully.
A weakness of our country is that total peace has not prevailed until now since it has regained independence. The entire country was not completely free from armed clashes. The government is trying to stop the armed conflicts. Instability in any corner of the country has negative impacts on other areas of the country.
The situation of a country can be compared with a person. A pain on the pointing finger can be suffered although it is not a severe disease of the body.
Likewise, it is important to believe that every citizen has their own value wherever they are living in any circumstances. Self-confidence is required to gain trust from others. Trust-building is emphasized in peace-making efforts.
However, those who lack self-confidence hardly trust others. Our citizens need to have capacity to develop self-confidence and to have normal relationship with others. Those who have no self-confidence, but worry for themselves, never have good relationships with others. So, we must work together to get rid of worries. Children should not be left behind in this process.
Children have to learn how to associate with each other, in addition to learning lessons from the teachers, at schools. They have to follow classroom rules and disciplines.Any school child is prohibited from playing while others are learning lessons in the classroom. It is a disturbance in the classroom, and teachers would prevent such behavior. Therefore, going to school is also meant to learn for close association with others. Parents need to understand this.
Everybody is responsible for living harmoniously with their community. Elder persons must teach this to the younger generation, while they are serving as a role model. Children are learning automatically from their close community without getting special trainings.
Children are quick leaners of strange behaviours. Adult persons need to know it. They must be role models for the young generations. Some elder persons lack this knowledge.
So, we need to live harmoniously. Only then, the new generation of the country would be able to establish good relationships with each other.”
The State Counsellor added that the situations in Leshi have revealed how much efforts needs to be put for the development of the country.
“It is very difficult to survive along the mountain slopes. Our people have been living here for hundreds of years. We need to develop and change these situations for them. However, it is also important not to forget traditional customs,” she added.
“I still remember that there were two Naga traditional spears in our home. They were hung on the wall in cross positions. I knew that these spears were the commemorative gifts of Naga ethnic people to our parents. Thus I felt the Naga people are our close relatives. Love and affection of our parents with Naga people have permeated us,” the State Counsellor said.
“Our ethnic national races must be friendly with each other. People from different faiths are living in this tiny township. However, they are seen living harmoniously. This is the strength for our country. Although the town is small, the hearts of its residents are big. They are so broad-minded that they could establish a peaceful community of diverse faiths. We need to convey this message to the other parts of the country,” she added.
“In some places, different communities are arguing about races, faiths and languages, although they should create unity in diversity. This is Union spirit. Some persons do not understand Union spirit, and they focus only on the interest of their close community. Then, the world becomes very restricted. People in Leshi should not only focus on their area. All the people, including young persons, should have global perspective, without traveling around the world.”
“I visited Homalin, Pinlebu and Nanyun townships yesterday before Leshi. I found it interesting that the ethnic young people in these areas are more active than their counterparts in other regions, especially young men. Why is that so? In other regions, young men were found to be shy embarrassing having to talk in public more so than young women. It can be assumed that good social practices have shaped them into active persons,”
The State Counsellor continued saying that every region has unique features to be proud of, whether they might be noticed or not. People were also urged to recognize these valuable characteristics. Don’t feel depressed for living and growing up on the mountain slopes. Everybody has significant values.
She also said, “No two people are alike in the world. So, value yourselves. Make the best for yourselves. Our government has offered to help you develop your lives.”
“We want to provide healthcare assistance in building the capacity of individuals. I would like to request all the people to join us. Without participation of the people, no nation will develop.” “People in developed countries are very active and energetic. They did not have more developed brains when they were born. However, their strenuous efforts turned them into more capable persons. We are trying to find ways how we could help our people. We are meeting with people to find this solution.”
The State Counsellor said she preferred public meetings outside the halls to create more space for the young people who wanted to join the meeting and raise their questions.”
After the speech of State Counsellor, the Union Minister and the senior government officials replied to questions posed by the local people about opening a vocation training school, building a hydropower plant, assignment of midwives and medical doctors for rural health clinics, upgrading roads, distribution of drinking water, telecommunications, construction of town community hall, development projects, putting Khamti and Homalin into the Naga Self-Administered Zone, possible assistance of the government for students who did not complete matriculation level, transportation and infrastructure development and unfair employment processesfor local staff positions.
The State Counsellor gave instructions to give priorityfor making drinking water available and construction of community hall for Leshi Township. She also explainedavailable national healthcare services, building upa Democratic Federal Union,assistance for young people who did not complete matriculation exam, collecting the data of unemployment rate, scrutinizing appointment of local staff, assistance of local people to the civil service personnel from other regions, infrastructural development and responsibilities of local people for the development of their region.
The State Counsellor and party proceeded to Bamauk Township by helicopters. They first visited to Zalon Mountain where they paid respects to and donated offertories to the monks.
The State Counsellor then paid homage to the Zalon Mountain Pagoda before leaving for Bamauk Township to hold a public meeting with the locals.
During the meeting at the community hall of the township, the State Counsellor said, “First of all, I apologize for coming late into this hall. On my way to this hall, the people greeted me personally, and I think I must take time to say greetings in return. But some suggested to me not to greet the people when they offer me ahandshake.
However, from my point of view, if I am offered a hand, I want to do a handshake. I believe this is a gesture showing the spirit of the Union. Only if I hold the hand offered voluntarily with loving kindness can we make unity and progress. So please understand me if I am taking time.
If it is possible, I wish I could give a handshake with each and everyone of the over fifty millionpeople. But this is practically out of the question.
In such a gathering like this, the local people usually ask for roads and bridges connecting the villages. The same request is made, whether the east or west, northern or southern part of the country. Another request is for electricity because our people believe that things will be alright only if there is power supply in the locality. Before we came here, we made a visit to the Zalon Mountain. There, the revered Sayadaw made a request for power supply on the ground that the elderly pilgrims could take a lift and make a pilgrimage to the top of the mountain. So, we must also take this into consideration.
Another request some villages make is the water supply for drinking and for general use. As you all know, this is a very important need, for without water, how can we survive? So, we shall fulfil the need of this water supply as one of the priorities. As regards health and education, health is more in demand. Why? Because there is no sufficient number of doctors and nurses in their local areas. No specialists. I was informed that in a so and so hospital there has been no sufficient number of staff, that the staff do not come on transfer.
However, what arouses curiosity in me is there are only few requests related to education. Of course, some regions ask for vocational education. But the local people’s reports or requests related to schools are only a few. I was taken aback.
Since I entered politics, I have toured the country, and on my tours, I have noticed that the people have made requests in the mass gathering for healthcare and education as priorities. Later, however, requests relating to education have been on the decline. Why? I wonder. Is education making progress? Or have our people lost interest or ardour in education matters? I don’t think so. If the children and the parents have strong interest in education, this makes me wonder whether, if compared with healthcare, there may not be many issues in the sector of education. This the Ministry of Health must take into consideration very seriously.
Education is the future of our country – this is the statement I always highlight. On my way to this hall, I saw many students, and this made me realize how huge the responsibility of state is. These students must have access to higher education, they must be taught the kind of education that they could apply when they walk along the path of their life. This is, of course, a great responsibility for us. On the other hand, what comes to my mind is the more students we have, the more forces for our future. Life is like a coin with a head and a tail. That is to say, if one side is meant for your interests, then on the other side, you have the responsibility to make efforts so as to enjoy these interests. Self-service will also be needed at spots agog with people.
I’d request the local people to cooperate and collaborate, too. For example, those far flung areas have been in need of doctors and healthcare staff. Then the Minister for Health Dr Myint Htwe explains about the plans for attracting more doctors to those inaccessible areas like the Sagaing Region for road transportation and travelling. He usually requests the local people that accommodations be arranged for the new staff coming on transfer because those staff, healthcare staff or education personnel, coming from somewhere else, have to leave their family, leave their native place for an unfamiliar place. So I think the local people are responsible for making the new comers a second home so that the government servants will perform their duties happily there for a long period of service. If the locals treat the new comers as strangers, then the new comers will feel like strangers in an unfamiliar setting. On the other hand, this new comer is our brotherhood, our relative, our fellow citizen who has come to serve for the interest of our village. Then give him or her a warm welcome. So the new comer will find a second home there for a longer stay. This is what I wish for.
Our country has a rich variety of nationalities. In a town like this, I notice the various nationalities dressed in different national costumes. In a country of various nationalities like this, we must not see our ethnic national races as strangers. If so, how can we build unity among ourselves?
So, no matter what national dress you wear, these children dressed in various national costumes, some are schoolmates, or classmates. So you all are friends, aren’t you? Though you might belong to other national races, a friend is a friend. This is the right attitude I’d like you all to adopt. We all are brothers and sisters, the offspring of the Union. This kind of attitude will transform the differences and diversity of our country into one single force. Don’t adopt the kind of attitude that because he or she is of a different skin, he or she is my foe, that people of different ethnic backgrounds can’t live together under the same roof, that those with a different skin or race must be ignored. No. This kind of negative attitude would undermine the strength of the nation. To prevent this sort of situation, we must nurture our children to adopt Union spirit. Never forget that this country is a Union, in which various nationalities live together. Every nationality has his own unique customs, some admirable customs and traditions. The new comers must find it out. Then he will discover that they know what we don’t, and he must teach themwhat they don’t know. With this kind of spirit, we must build our Union.
Our country has perhaps the richest human resource of working age in the world. These human resources are a rich source of strength. These human resources will carry out the duties of the country, make efforts for development of the country. But, first of all, the government must provide aid for the good health of our children, for their good education.
It is important that the government is responsible for the management in which those who have completed their education are employed in decent jobs. The term ‘unemployed graduate’ is far and wide in our country. You get a degree from a university, but you can’t get a job. This is no good. I am trying my best to convince the people that an intellectual is not a university graduate.
Education means having the capabilities and knowledge necessary for your life. This kind of knowledge and capability do not belong to the university graduates only. Personally speaking, I’d like to give much support to the role of vocational education because in some developed countries in the world, vocational education is ranked as equal to the university education, even more valued in some countries. The youths who have been trained in vocational education earn the same salary as the university graduates. These youths can carry out the duties of the country, exert influence in the economy. So the world has now acknowledged how important the role of vocational education is. In our country there are weaknesses in the sector of education. But these weaknesses can be transformed into advantages. Our country has only 4 percent of university graduates. This is a very low percentage. The majority of the people are not graduates. It doesn’t matter. We will create opportunities for our youths to get access to vocational education. Take these opportunities. Parents should encourage their young people to do so. At the same time, I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to the parents because the parents of our country have come to give more support to vocational education.
In the former times, the parents wish to see their sons and daughters to become graduates. I think taking photos during the convocation ceremony is getting less and less popular. Ceremonies for awarding completion certificates for vocational education may be held. For this I could give permission so that many people will be convinced that Education of any form has its own values.
In our public gatherings, please feel free to let us know your needs. Of course, the local needs are almost all the same in many regions. Some might raise a question; if the local needs are almost all the same, why raise questions? But questions do differ. When you present your issue or your need or your difficulty, you usually differ in presentation. That’s why wherever we go, we provide a chance to the locals to voice their hardships, expectations and worries personally. Some questions in the form of notes are already tabled, which we give priority. When we have responded to these questions, if we have time, the audience can draw votes, and a chance is given to raise a question. First, I will give answers to the questions forwarded in letters. Some questions will be dealt with by the Union government, others by the Regional Government.
After the speech of State Counsellor, the locals discussed construction of a 200ft-long bridge, upgrading Bamauk-Homelin road, requirement of a police outpost, stone road, a 66/KV/5 MVA sub-power station, upgrading a rural clinic to a station hospital and reconstructions of a rural health centre and a house for its midwife.
Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe and regional government ministers explained the short-term and long-term plans for the region.
The State Counsellor also replied to more questions and talked about fighting against narcotic drugs with the participation of local people, markets for local sugarcanes and educative programmes for sugarcane farmers.
She also instructed the local government members to accommodate the requests of local people for constructions of a sub-power station near Narmaw village and retaining wall along the road to Zalon Mountain, upgrading the road between Bamauk and Zalon Mountain, expansions of Bamauk-Indaw road and the roads in Bamauk Township, constructions of inter-village roads, appointment of medical doctors at Bamauk Township hospital and station hospitals, construction of an exhibition building for antiques donated by King Mindon, and construction of a road to Zalon Mountain from the exhibition building.
The State Counsellor and party then left Bamauk Township for Homalin by helicopters and proceeded to Kalay Township by a special flight.—MNA (Translated by Aung Khin and Dr Zaw Tun)