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, attended the inauguration ceremony of JICA Phase II building at the 500-bedded hospital in Lashio, northern Shan State and held meetings with locals in Lashio, Shan State and in PyinOoLwin Township of Mandalay Region yesterday.
During the visit, she was accompanied by Union Ministers U Min Thu, Lt-Gen Soe Htut, Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Thura U Aung Ko, Dr Aung Thu, U Ohn Win, Dr Myint Htwe, and Dr Win Myat Aye; Deputy Minister U Hla Maw Oo, Chief of Myanmar Police Force Police Lt-Gen Aung Win Oo and officials.
The State Counsellor and party attended inauguration of JICA Phase II building at Lashio hospital, and looked around the medical wards.
During the meeting with local people at the city hall of Lashio, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said: “First, I would like to thank all the people of Lashio for your warm welcome. Secondly, I would like to apologize for I haven’t got a chance to shake hands with the public in Lashio as you’re aware that the Ministry of Health and Sports has issued a guideline to avoid shaking hands and touching hands with one another in this critical time because of the COVID-19 epidemic not only in our country but around the world too.
“I consider it’s a gifted benefit that enables me to discuss whatever issues we are facing, with the people. Only after we all have close contact with one another can we be able to know more about the major concerns.
“It’s not a possibility nor a reality that we all can meet one another in such a country of over 50 million populations. But we need to value each other as much as we can if we can have a rare opportunity like mass gatherings. I do wish to tell you this, most often.
Every individual is important. You place your value by yourself. Efforts are being made to prevent the fearful infectious disease and its impacts as well as to protect the health of every one of our people.
“A national-level committee has been formed since we came to know about the outbreak and spread of the disease in February. The committee aimed to fight back the consequences caused by the disease and to prevent its impacts upon us. We, as a State, need to look into the issue from every perspective. To prevent and control the COVID-19, a committee has been formed led by the Union Minister for International Cooperation as chairman since its outbreak and spread has started in China, our neighbouring country in addition to a lengthy border between each other.
“The committee also includes the Union Minister for Commerce and other relevant departmental representatives because it may have caused some impacts upon economic sectors. Border crossings or checkpoints may have been closed down and it may have affected border trade. Consequently, the impacts may have caused the traders and the people relying on border areas for their livelihoods. We’ve considered this from the very beginning so that all concerned departments have been collaborating to implement the measures to control and prevent the COVID-19 and its impacts upon us.
“They have to review the work done step by step to further carry out the control and prevention measures. What I’m trying to say is that efforts are being made to secure better health and economic benefits to the people as much as we can. Ensuring safe and secure lives for all citizens is a key prerequisite for a nation. It doesn’t mean only superficial or physical safety and security of the people but we need to feel safe and secure. Only after a nation has really improved and developed can we all the people feel safe and secure actually. We need to strive to build a nation in which all the citizens are confident that they have safe and secure lives. We do first consider how people can benefit from one another in whatever we’re doing. In this regard, people’s participation and involvement are of major importance to achieve successful implementation.
“Educational awareness measures are being carried out in regards to the COVID-19. People are instructed to follow ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. People should understand and abide by the guidelines so as to get beneficial effects upon them. I do want all the citizens to rely on themselves instead of relying on the State. You should do your best and will get yourself improved. I do want you to have confidence that our nation can be developed.
“We are a Union as I earlier mentioned many times. Once we’re in Lashio it is significant that we are in a Union. We’ve seen different national races along the road to Lashio. The children in the front row, you see, are wearing different kinds of traditional ethnic apparel. It’s very graceful when we see this. Our strength can be derived from diversity. To make it happen, we all need to try hard to attain a treasure.
“Our nation isn’t one of the wealthy and prosperous countries in the world. In reality, we have been left behind in the South-East Asian countries. However, it’s not to be discouraged. We do have a lot of time to move forward and we get ourselves motivated to improve and develop our country. The main thing is that we do want all the people not only to take as granted but we need to be good people for the world as well.
“I’m satisfied that I’ve seen such a clean and tidy city. There are many more cities and people across our country. I really like it. I really respect it. I prefer ‘discipline’ among people to their wealth and prosperities. I often say that I do want people to be disciplined as it is a priceless thing. Discipline can make them develop their values. If you live in discipline to make yourself clean and tidy, you can help your environment clean and tidy. You can make your country in a similar way. Thereby, you can involve in and make the world and its environment be clean. We the people should take the high value of ‘discipline’. We should honour it. We’re disciplined nationals and every individual should have the spirit to take responsibility for one another.
“We’ve been through too many hardships and difficulties during the Second World War. To prevent a similar war like this, world nations have gathered to found the United Nations. The United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights has been adopted afterwards. It implicitly provides that every person is born free and entitled to universal human rights such as individual rights and respect for prestige among one another.
“It entails responsibility. I’d like to remind you of this. It’s one of human ethics. You should protect your individual rights and take responsibility at the same time. It’s not ethical if we lack one of those two things. If one could not protect his or her rights but take responsibility, it’s not full of ethical dignity for her or him.
“So we the people should conduct ourselves in discipline and take responsibility, too. We should protect our individual rights in a right way. It’s very important that we should have the spirit to move forward how and which way towards our goals.
“That’s why to develop our nation we need to walk the right path in the right way.
While touching on the health of the people, I do need to mention the drug abuse so critical both for this region and for the whole country. It’s a big issue in our country.
Its related crimes are also really big problems. We all need to control this menace. The general public should shun away from the danger of drug abuse. Number one is not to abuse the drugs. Number two is to encourage your environs not to abuse the drugs. Number three is to participate in the fight against drug abuse and its related crimes.
“Narcotic drugs have been seized recently in Kutkai township. You’ll be well aware that it’s a huge threat after you’ve seen the volume and different kinds of narcotic drugs seized. Those who haven’t connected with narcotic drugs before should shun away from them. Those who have already connected with them are requested to stop every wrongdoing by taking the first good step to change their habits.
“Those who are selling narcotic drugs are requested to stop their illegal businesses. That’s a crime. It can destroy our environment. It’s also a kind of misdeeds.
I do request for those to stop it. I need to remind you of this while we meet in such a mass gathering. Lashio is located close to border areas. The State has been eradicating drug abuse and you all are requested to get involved and participate in this implementation.
After the speech of State Counsellor, the locals discussed their requirements for upgrade of Lashio airport, infrastructural development, assignment of medical doctors and supply of medical equipment at the hospital, strong market for agricultural produce of local farmers, exports to China, irrigation and household water supplies, new school buildings, compensations for lands and crops lost in the bridge construction project, flood control measures, prevention of soil erosions, installation of a transformer, returns of confiscated lands to the owners, construction of civil servant apartments, drilling underground water and upgrade of a tarred road.
The Union Ministers, the Chief Minister and local government officials responded to the discussions. In making a speech to the locals, the State Counsellor said, I like the reports of local people for regional development. We need to know their problems so that we could solve them. Expectations of our people are quite common. They highlighted the need of household water supply.
People also requested for improvement of transport sector which is fundamental to the development of the country. A good transportation is required for smooth flow of agricultural produce to the markets, healthcare and education sector.
Demand for electricity was not a prioritized topic in Lashio. However, the locals raised land ownership disputes which were discussed at the parliament. Vice President U Henry Van Thio is leading the return of lands to the original owners. Although they are seriously doing this, the processes are very complicated and will take time in following the rules and principles. We will do our best. People are making more requests for improvement of healthcare sector, although education was a hot issue in the past. They suggested better healthcare facilities, medics and medical specialists.
Public healthcare services can be found across the country. It is seen as development.
Although there have been some progress in water supply, transportation, electricity, healthcare services and education in the country, it is certain that in these sectors the demand of people have not been met up to a satisfactory level. We will try to fulfill them as soon as possible. Public participation is also important for success. I also believe people would join with us.
After the meeting, the State Counsellor visited Thiri Mingalar Mansu Shan Monastery in Lashio, and paid homage to the local senior monks.
She then proceeded to PyinOoLwin Township in Mandalay Region, where she met with the local people at the district sports ground. At the meeting, she said, I would like to draw your attention to two main points, as I mentioned when I was visiting Lashio. First of all, I’d like to express my thanks to the people of Pyin Oo Lwin for giving me a warm welcome. The second thing I’d like to draw your attention is that on this visit, nobody gives me a handshake, thanks to the instructions of the Ministry of Health. I would also urge you all not to do handshakes in the meanwhile. As you all know, according to the reports, COVID-19 virus has not yet been detected in our country, but we cannot be definitely sure about its entry. This threatening disease has already spread all over the world. The source happens to come from our neighbouring country, and we share a long border with this country, so there is a great possibility of impending danger. The moment it has infected the regions here, it would be an urgent case for quarantining the disease. For the preventive measures the Ministry of Health has already kept up all the alerts and issued instructions. And it is very important for the people to strictly follow the instructions.
PyinOoLwin always gives me pleasure on every visit of mine. I have long known that it’s a famous hill resort. I always wish the family members of our Union would always be cool and pleasant like this peaceful, beautiful hill station. I am pleased to see such a pleasant condition here. Here, in PyinOoLwin, we have a rich variety of our national races. You all love and live in unity and peace, which looks positive in everything. Cool climatic conditions are good, but peace of mind is better. As you all know, the world today has been suffering from climate change. For the challenge of these geographical changes, we must all be prepared. Similarly, in order to overcome the changes in the world and the challenges of the changing world, it is of curcial importance that all the people of our country must cooperate and collaborate. Of course, ours is not a rich country, not listed among the developed countries. However, fortunately, we have got ourselves out of the list of the least developed countries of the world. In other words, we should be proud of that. Formerly, our country was categorized under the least developed countries. This must have angered some of our people, thinking the reputation of our country had been tarnished. But we must be realistic. The least developed countries were provided special privileges by the organizations of the world, by the developed countries.
Now, as our country’s name is going to be cancelled from the list of such countries, we are going to be deprived of these privileges. So this is good if you look at it from one aspect, but from another aspect, there are minuses awaiting us. But we must willingly accept the new situation. Why? Because we have been denied some privileges on the basis of the progress we have made. Nevertheless, we all must work for more progress in the future so that we can stand independently. This is our dream.
Our dream is we are a nation standing on our own. I strongly believe that we have all the potentials for realizing this dream. Ours is a country well known for very rich natural resources. But our hopes should not rest upon these resources since there will come the time when these resources would one day run out. What we count on is the potentials of our people. I often say this: the genuine resources or treasures of a nation is the people. Our people must be well qualified, well disciplined, being equipped with morale, abilities, diligence and perseverance. Then who should we count on? What dangers should threaten our people? Of course, dangers are there in this world.
Since Coronavirus first broke out in China, we formed a team under the Union Minister for International Cooperation in the first week of February, and we launched a plan for tackling not only with the issues of health, but also for the ensuing economic issues. Our plan worked out to some extent. With the sharp drop of border trading, it made an impact on the economic conditions of our country. We can’t evade from this. But we have planned in advance so that we could cushion the blow from the negative repercussions. Everyday we have been very much vigilant about the ongoing situations – the challenges of health, as well as the economic and social challenges, and the international challenges. We have kept ourselves alert twenty four hours, and have planned to overcome the challenges with our calibre, with the abilities of our people. Hence, I would like to stress that all our people play an important role for the progress of our country, for the consolidation of our strength.
Ours is the government of the people that stands on the strength of the people. Since ours is a government that comprises the people’s elected representatives, we are a strong government. However, we have all and sundry duties and responsibilities. Being elected by the people, we are responsible for the interests of the people. Thanks to the strength of our people, we have the changes of conditions favourable for our performances. Finally, when we have come to the stage of interpreting the meaning of democracy, the government of the people founded by the people for the interests of the people is a concern to all the people. All the members of the people are born of the people, too. So the democratic system could be a success only if we are of oneness with the people. Concerning the case of unity, I would explain a little bit. Because our country is a union, I have often stressed the importance of unity. Our country has stood as an independent country of own sovereignty for over seventy years. But sadly, the country has not yet enjoyed a moment when the flames of all the armed conflcts have been extinguished. Because Peace is so essential, because Peace is so important, I have been repeating the word all the time. Where there is unity, there is peace. And Peace contributes to the establishment of unity. We must think it over what is Unity: unity among the diversity of religions and languages and different cultures and customs. What we should do is direct towards the unity cherished in our hearts. Our ultimate goal is to build a union strong and peaceful – this is what we all dream of. If the peaceful, prosperous, strong democratic union has found room securely in the hearts of all of us, there’s unity we want.
What we all want, with strong mature spirit, is the genuine Democratic Federal Union. We must all strive for achieveing this. We may negotiate over our different views in a gentlemanly manner, as civilized people. This is the attitude we should adopt. So if we want our country to stand with great reputation throughout the history, we must nurture noble attitudes. We must strive for this. No matter how hard our government may try, without the collaboration of the people, without the trust of our people, we cannot make progress. If our country has failed to make progress, then question yourself: What have I been doing for the country? Am I a dutiful citizen playing my role? Before you point your finger to others, you have the right to question: Am I dutiful? Is he or she dutiful? Are those organizations doing their work really? Is the goernment performing its tasks? But the very first questions you should ask is ask yourself: Am I a dutiful citizen? Am I engaged in making my own contributions for my country?
I would like to talk to the students. My dear students, performing the duties of a student is performing your tasks for the country. But please don’t adopt the attitude that you could be educated only if you get high marks in the exam. Education is a mark of calibre that could help you overcome the difficulties of life. If you could learn such abilities, then you are getting education. And this kind of learning is a never ending quest. It is a lifelong learning process. We must keep on learning to become perfect human beings. So I would like to request you all to make contributions to building a strong union so that our developing country could be upgraded into a developed one. We often hold mass gatherings with the purpose of having our people to participate unitedly. We welcome questions and comments and views from our people. We are responsible for responding to your questions. As usual, the departments concerned will handle with your notes and questions, and some of your questions will be answered by the authorities of the union level. Then, if we have time, we shall draw lots and we will accept your questions and views.
After the meeting, the locals discussed the removal of X-ray machines near Watwun police station, the removal of landfill from Ward 9 of PyinOoLwin, land dispute cases, upgrade of rural roads and loss of water resources due to plantation of eucalyptus trees. The State Counsellor, the Union Ministers and the local government officials explained the plans for solving the problems. In her conclusion remark, the State Counsellor said, those who did not get a chance for questioning under the drawing lots system can submit their complaint letters in detail. It is not possible to allow all the 38 persons for questionings due to time limitation. Both rights and responsibilities must be considered. We could then move forward on the right path with the cooperation of the people. I am also grateful to the people for their reports. Land disputes were found to be the most serious issue in Pyin Oo Lwin than other areas.
It is not clear whether the land ownership dispute is the only remaining problem in Pyin Oo Lwin or it is the most complicated issue for the region. We will discuss it with Mandalay Region government, and find out the reasons why land disputes are so complicated that they cannot be solved. In conclusion, I would like to express my thanks to the people for attending this public meeting. We would have different views and opinions. However, people must have interest in politics which is concerned with national affairs in relation to party politics and the government.
People could be regarded as mature citizens only if they have interests in national affairs, in addition to the issues of individuals, families and communities. Being a mature citizen depends on their knowledge and wisdom.
I am so pleased to see the interest of people in national affairs. Please keep on trying to understand them. The State Counsellor and party also visited the National Kandawgyi Gardens in PyinOoLwin in the afternoon.
In the evening, the State Counsellor held a meeting at the State Guest House with the members of Mandalay Region government, and discussed land confiscation cases, water supply, climate changes due to deforestation and reforestation plans.
She also coordinated the discussions on education, health, economy, transportation, socioeconomic development and other challenging issues.