State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi meeting with local people in Thantlang. Photo: MNA
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity as the Chairperson of the Central Committee for Development of Border Areas and National Races, met with the local people in Tonzang and Thantlang townships in Chin State on 19 February.
She also inaugurated a station hospital in Tikir Village and 50 houses donated by the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation.
During the visit, she was accompanied by Union Ministers U Min Thu, Lt-Gen Soe Htut, Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Dr Aung Thu, U Ohn Win, Dr Myint Htwe; Deputy Minister U Hla Maw Oo, Chief of Myanmar Police Force Police Lt-Gen Aung Win Oo and officials.
They left Nay Pyi Taw by special flight, and landed at Kalay airport in Sagaing Region.
They were welcomed by Sagaing Region Chief Minister Dr Myint Naing, Chin State Chief Minister U Salai Lian Lwal, officials and local people at the airport.
They took helicopters to Tonzang Township where the State Counsellor met with the locals in the town hall.
During the meeting, she delivered a speech, saying that “I would first like to apologize for being late. The weather delayed our helicopter’s departure from Kalay. We have to be mindful of the weather when we go on trips like these, and especially to remote areas. This is a lesson for us all. We cannot alter what happens in nature. We must try to overcome that which we cannot change. That is why we are trying hard to drive development of remote border regions like Chin State where the people are living harsh lives. Only by doing this will our nation have more connection between the people.” “There are many mountains and elevations in Chin State and few roads. That is why we are giving priority to Chin State’s transportation infrastructure. But we have to make things fair since our nation is expansive. I hope all ethnic nationals will understand this.”
“We want the states and regions to improve and develop. The Chin people would know more of what Chin State needs. We must also know the needs of Chin State and those of Kachin State as well. Kayin, Kayah, we must view them all as a whole. That is why I remind people that our nation is a Union whenever I get the chance when meeting local residents.”
“The Union is composed of states and regions. Especially, our nation is made up of a large number of ethnic nationals. This formation with many unique ethnicities is our strength. It is something to be proud of. That is why I want everyone to be proud of this nation that is composed of unique ethnicities. I wish for all our citizens and ethnic nationals born in the Union to provide their assistance in developing our nation.”
“Everyone knows that achieving peace is essential to developing the nation. Chin State has less armed ethnic organizations compared to other states. And that small number did not bring much trouble to the people. Some states have been in armed conflict since gaining independence and that has been over 70 years, and still peace hasn’t been attained. That is why I want everyone to work together for peace. This requires the participation of all citizens.”
“Our nation is composed of numerous ethnicities, as I’ve mentioned before. Different religions too. Chin State has a lot of Christians. However, there are different Christian sects but they all revere the same thing. Christians are united because they worship one God. In the same way, our ethnic nationals may be different but they are all siblings born from the same Union. That is why it is important to be united.”
“Peace is crucial for the nation and I want our ethnic nationals to keep that in their heart and consider. Peace is something that Christian-majority Chin State would want as well. Jesus Christ was an ambassador for peace. He is extolled as the King of Peace. If you truly believe in this type of peace then it must begin in your mind. This must be started by placing compassion on one another.”
“Christianity says God is love. People who believe in love should desire peace and value it. I implore the people of Chin State to pursue course of actions that lead to peace. It must begin with compassion in your mind. The main antagonist to peace is anger, which is hatred and a desire for other’s benefits to be eliminated.”
“If each of us wishes for the other to succeed then our nation will develop. I urge all of you to do so in earnest. We need to be aware that there can’t be national development without peace. Peace and development are linked. Peace is needed for effective development. Development is required to maintain peace. This is because everybody wants to live a physically and mentally prosperous life. We must be aware that material wealth first requires security.”
“Without mental security or physical safety, we cannot have mental prosperity. Physical safety depends on peace and so does mental security. If your environment is not at peace then how can your mind be at ease. It can’t be peaceful or safe. That is why peace is the first step towards safety, mental health and physical wealth.”
“We must implement development in tandem with peace. Wherever I go, I ask the people for their questions and suggestions. It’s because I wish to know what kinds of issues, requirements and local desires exist in different parts of the country. This is the duty of every government. Especially the duty of a democratically elected government is to fulfill the wishes of the people. I wish to inform you of the difference between necessity and wanting. Everyone has their own aspirations and wishes.”
“All your aspirations need to have necessity. Sometimes the things that you want may not be beneficial for other people, or even yourself and your community. It could even be detrimental for others. We must always gauge this.”
“The people who have taken the duty of a democratic government have to continually find the best solution for all citizens. This is not an easy task. We have 14 states and regions and they have different needs. But they are there. While not the same, some needs are similar. Roads need to be good on flatland too. While everyone knows that Chin State doesn’t have quality roads, most people overlook the fact that flatlands with high rain, like Ayeyawady Region, have increased difficulty on its roads during the rainy season.”
“Since the roads are not built for all weathers, they get damaged in the rain and sometimes become useless for 5 months even. The government then sees that all our citizens are facing extremely similar issues.”
“Chin State has difficult transportation in rainy season and so does Ayeyawady Region. We have to try and resolve these issues. The results of difficult transportation leads to difficulty in accessing healthcare, education and business. We cannot afford to open clinics in every village yet. During that time, if the roads are not good then it will be difficult for people to go to a place that has a clinic. Then you can’t perform emergency medical care. This is happening in Chin State and Ayeyawady Region.”
“While the two are geographically different, the rainy season brings its own healthcare-related issues to Ayeyawady Region when roads are inaccessible. It is difficult to get to the nearest clinic. Education faces a similar issue.”
“Children in Chin State can’t go to school without good roads. We cannot build schools in every village yet. It is the same in Ayeyawady Region. Some children have to sail on boats to school if the conditions are bad. But there are people who can do it and those who can’t. Some children don’t go to school for the whole rainy season sometimes.”
“The people of Chin State would have faced similar issues. We are all in the same boat. We are people of the same nation and same Union that are living on the same earth, drinking from the same water and are in the same boat. That is why it is important for all of us to cooperate for the development of the nation.”
“Only when everyone improves, individuals will improve too, and only when individuals improve will everyone too. I want our ethnic nationals to try hard in this regard. Our nation is lacking behind in development. Everyone knows this history. We need to try hard because we are late in development. We must move forward with momentum for increased development so that we can get on the same level as other nations. A nation’s main strength is within.”
“No matter how much external assistance is provided, the real strength comes from within our people. The strength accumulated from the individual skills of all citizens is our own strength. External strength can be there sometimes and not there at other times. But our own strength will be sustainable. If it can be collected then the nation can improve and develop and the people can be safe. Our children’s future can be secure. That is why it is important for us to consider the future generations in whatever we do.”
“We must carefully think of the legacy we will leave behind. What kind of legacy will we leave behind for the next generation and the children who will grow up one day. What sort of things did our parents leave behind for us. Looking back at this, I want everyone to collaborate as this is something that aims for increased development and prosperity with each successive generation.”
“The reason a democratic government is elected to represent the people in a democracy is because it is impossible for all 50 million people in our nation to assume government positions. That is why we have to elect the government that can lead the people with respect and stability. In our duty as government, we try our best and use all of our skills when it comes to the public. And we will continue to do so. We will use all our skills to give the best answers to the people’s questions.”
After the speech, the State Counsellor, Union Ministers, the Chief Minister, local ministers and officials replied to the requests for upgrade of Tiddim from township to district, the Union government’ assistance for cultivation of mulberry trees and breeding of silkworms as the business has dwindled since 2010, operating Forest Department office in Tonzang although the township has over 230,000 acres of forests, the government’s long-term loan with low interest rate to support agriculture, livestock and livelihoods for socioeconomic development of the regional people.
The locals also discussed the needs for a border market near the major road between Myanmar and Imphal district of Manipur in India, getting electricity supply through 11 KV power line from India as the Cikha Town is only 9 miles far from Binhan village of Manipur district and upgrade of the 16-bedded station hospital in Cikha town hospital to a25-bedded hospital.
Five locals outside the town hall requested for cleanliness and tidiness of the hospital in Tonzang and construction of a community hall, reviewing land allocations of seized lands, construction of earth retaining wall, fresh water supply and making a shorter waterway to reduce the existing distance of 16 miles.
After replies to the locals, the State Counsellor added: “Even though we are late, thank you for waiting for us so patiently. Everyone needs to cooperate so that all matters can be accomplished in a short amount of time. It cannot be done without cooperation. This meeting showed the needs of the local residents and their mindset and thus it is valuable. We will try to meet with the people like this again soon. There needs to be constant connection between the people and the government.”
“A democratic government is elected by the people. You don’t need to be afraid of the government. That doesn’t mean you need to attack the government. It means to cooperate so that things will develop.”
“We put deep emphasis on everything that has been reported. We will review all of them. We place special priority and perform swiftly for the items submitted during these public meetings. Because hearing the voice of the people directly needs to be emphasized. “
“In conclusion, I apologize for any inconvenience caused to the local residents who came here because we were delayed by the weather. I want to say that we will try our best with full earnestness. Thank you.”
The State Counsellor and party proceeded to Tikir village, and attended the opening ceremony of the village’s station hospital.
After thelaunching ceremony of the hospital, the representatives from Dingdi Dream Organization and Media Myanmar Group Ltd and Visakha Foundation presented medical equipment and medicines to the Medical Services Officer of State Public Health Dr AungNgwe San.
The State Counsellor then planted Japanese cherry tree saplings to mark the launching ceremony of sub-station hospital.
She also witnessed the transfer of 50 houses to the State Chief Minister. These houses were donated by the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation for the Baung tribe people who haverecently migratedtoThiki village.
The State Counsellor and party proceeded to Thantlang Township by choppers.
During the meeting with the locals at the town hall, the State Counsellor said, “I want to express my thanks to all the people of the Chin State for a warm welcome. I believe that the songs which welcome me wherever I go in Chin State represent awarm welcome to us.
Such a warm welcome we receive wherever we visit in the Union is a characteristic of the Union. All the people of the Union have a warm spirit and show a great hospitality to visitors. We thank all of you and we take pride in it.
The country can transform into a genuine democratic federalUnion. The reason I am confident of this is the spirit of the people and the relations between the regions and states in the Union. In fact, the relationship between them is better than we expected.
I would like to urge all of you to consider the fact that we are the Union’s brethren who are on the same journey. If we want to stay separate, we will be different from each other. To build a democratic federal Union, we need to see both – our similarity and diversity. If we focus on our similarities, we all can strengthen our unity and build more empathy towards each other.
We hold public meetings when we visit regions and states to know the needs and desires of the people and to share the feelings of the people. During our visits, I found that there are many similarities in different parts of the country. For instance, the demands of the people in Chin State, Kayin State, Magway Region and Ayeyawady Region are similar. No difference. That has been similar since I got involved in politics.
During the over 30 years of my journey in politics, I visited regions and states of the country. I love travelling as a leader of a political party than as a leader of the government. Because, when I was a political party leader, I could stop on the way and talk to local people. I still remember my visit to Chin State in 2001. During that visit, I could talk to workers doing road works, and I feel that we could stay more closer with the people.
I noticed one thing at that time. I always ask the people what they need. I found that the basic needs of the people in all parts our country are similar. Basically, the first one is: drinking water. Second priority is good transportation. The third demand is electricity.
Health and education is their last demands. It is interesting that local people always give priority to education. Education comes after water, transportation and electricity. They demanded schools and teachers for the education of their children. It reflects that they have a view that our country can enjoy development onlywhen our citizens are educated. Health is just as important as education. Today, they people also see that health is also as important as education. Because, today, they also demanded schools, hospitals, doctors and nurses. It means they also value health in the same way as education. I admire it. The government has a responsibility to fulfill the needs of the people. We do it as much as we can.
As you all know our country is not yet rich. Prosperity of a country depends on its people. Even though a country is facing a bad situation, the unity of its people can bring development to it.
We can see the countries, which are working very hard, are highly developed countries. However, the first initial step is ‘unity’ for the development of a nation. Peace depends on unity. Development also depends on peace. Unity leads development in view of common people. It is the same as in religious views.
We cannot consider that ‘union’ is all the same and equal. Differences can turn out strength. If we all are equal in qualifications, we may have similar weaknesses. Only after we have different weaknesses and strengths we would be able tohelp each other to fulfil the gaps. We should teach this kind of mindset to the children since they are young. All ethnic national races should imbue their children with ‘Union Spirit’.
In this way, we can hand it over to next generations to fulfil our ancestors’ desires. It has been over 70 years sincewe regained our Independence. The Panglong Agreement was signed in one year before our Independence. We all know this. Chin ethnic nationals took a major role in signing the agreement.
With unity among all ethnic national races they believed and signed the Panglong Agreement to speed up the regaining of our Independence, which was of vital importance than other matters. An independent nation can administer its sovereign power by itself. These are slogans of our National Leaders. We hold our sovereign power ourselves and it belongs to no one else.
Yet, we cannot build our unity until now – not yet fully. We should consider why we cannot complete our unity building. We all may be different and diverse in languages, religions, and races. Why can’t we live in peace and unity. Religions like Christianity and Buddhism did not originate in Myanmar. We don’t need to divide ourselves based on our faiths. I would like to request all to work towards unity among ourselvesfor our nation.
All should collaborate to work for peace, unity, and development. We need to urge for all-inclusive participation in this regard. We meet local people with our major objective to obtain unity and development like ‘No Unity’ ‘No Peace’, ‘No Peace’ ‘No Development’. These three factors are intertwined and interrelated.
We would like to hear your worries and your needs when we meet you. We do want to fulfil your needs and to lessen your worries. We always find out the solutions. This is part of our daily routine.
This is government’s job. It also concerns with the people. Each and every citizen should take responsibilities in the societies where democracy flourishes. This is all what I often said. Some may count their fingers and ask what are their rights in ademocracy. But they do not think of their responsibilities. We should consider both for our development.
I like to promise that our ethnic national races have their entitled rights while they have their responsibilities. It is very important that you should clearly review yourselves on what rights and responsibilities you have. We don’t need to worry for our country if each and every oneof us is a responsible citizen. Our nation will become a strong viable country.”
After her speech, the State Counsellor and senior government officials replied tothe requests of local people for constructing 27- mile long road on Mara mountain, constructions of 170 ft bridge and 70 ft bridges and erecting mobile phone towers that cover some local villages.
Five locals who won lots for questioning also asked for construction of a bridge that crosses Bwenu river to link Lailin village with Ywalmun village, removing squatter houses inThantlang Township, building mini-hydropower plants and developing 350 acres of empty lands into industrialized farming with an irrigation canal in Ngaphaipee village.
The State Counsellor replied that the relevant departments would look into these matters. Then, the State Counsellor said, “I’m satisfied with this mass gathering. Questions are good and all-inclusive. I take pride of you all. I thank you all. I wish you all good health and well-being. Thank you all.”
In the evening, the State Counsellor and party enjoyed abonfire festival and traditional dances held in the compound of the Tantlang High School on the eve of the 72nd Anniversary of Chin National Day. –MNA (Translated by Aung Khin/Aungthu Ya/ Zaw Htet Oo)