Myanmar State CounsellorAung San Suu Kyi urged people to understand other people’s feelings and hopes for the sake of internal peace and to get rid of a self-conceited mindset as they consider the country’s transition to full democracy.
“If we don’t have such understanding we cannot work efficiently for the successful democratic transition, our unity and peace in the country,” she said.
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said these words in her inaugural address delivered at the Forum on Myanmar Democratic Transition which kicked off on August 11 at Myanmar International Convention Centre 2 (MICC-2).
The following are highlights of Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech:
PATH TO DEMOCRACY
The path to democracy needs to be correct and dignified. Some think what counts, is to reach the goal regardless of whatever ways and means are used. But I’ve a different opinion. If we follow the wrong path, we’ll not achieve what we want even if we reach the goal. The goal itself cannot be dignified. That’s why we need to follow the correct path in a dignified manner.
The path the country walked after gaining independence was not smooth. A change can be a change for the better or a change for the worse. Our country started with democratic norms, from which we deviated. So, we have walked on the road to democracy to put the country back on the right path to democracy with peaceful, non-violent ways.
When we are trying to change, it is never easy.
To be behind also has some advantages.
STRUGGLE OF THE NLD
Why do we want democratic a transition? Why did we—National League for Democracy (NLD), make efforts for nearly 30 years for the acquisition of such democratic transition? In brief, it is attributed to our gratitude toward our people, absolute truth and our heart-felt kindness to all. Our gratitude toward the people is meant for our gratitude towards well-known national leaders, anonymous comrades and people who tried their best for Independence. In recognition of these people’s gratitude, it is our duty to make the Independence we achieved the kind as hoped by our leaders, anonymous comrades and people who sacrificed their lives.
We made efforts to successfully set up a democratic system with justice and fairness freedom as hoped by our fore-fathers of Independence and ordinary people who sacrificed their lives for the Independence. Reforms are never easy. As regards the transition, such a kind of today’s meeting is essential and suitable. We need to observe in every way, as to which challenges we are experiencing. Many other countries across the globe underwent such transition process. Yet, their experiences and ours cannot be the same. But, I think we can take a lot of lessons if we know how to take lessons.
There are designated topics to be discussed in this discussion. I think designations were made after consideration which is more important. I have said we must view in every way in reforming. Here, we will discuss in the forum the topics —“From Military to Civilian Government, “Transition from war to peace:” and “From centrally planned economy to Market economy”.
First of all, I would like to talk about peace which is of great importance. In our country where civil wars were taking place since the time of gaining Independence, it is the most important matter to gain peace. Regarding this, some say that it is more important to develop the country. Among us we have some people who say that development may lead the country to peaceful land. I totally disagree with them. Peace and development cannot be separately seen. Development will never survive without peace or vice versa. We are required to try hard for both peace and development.
Thus, we are prioritizing our efforts on nationwide ceasefire. Simultaneously we are exerting our efforts to develop the whole nation. Economic reforms as well aren’t easy ones. In other words, our country lagged behind in development compared to conditions of neighboring countries. While they are making their efforts to the best of their ability, we had no chance to do so. So, we followed them. In spite of it, there are some advantages in following others. That is none other than having a chance to take lessons from their experiences. As regards, the democracy movement as we call it, though named it Democracy Revolution by others, it is in fact an “An Intellectual Revolution.” To gain democracy, it is necessary to bear the spirit of democracy. Only if it is so, our democracy will survive for ever. So, we need to change our mindsets concerning our doctrines, opinions, attitudes and our stances. Without changing these, it is impossible to make democracy bring about benefits for the country. Democracy coincides with rights.
With these rights, responsibilities are said to follow. During the one and half year period when our government took office, some people were found to have exercised democratic rights constructively, with some found to have used it negatively. I think people will be well convinced who are exercising these in which way.
NO FAST TRACK
There may be many things which are beyond the knowledge of people concerning laws, procedures and administration systems. But, most of our people were well convinced what is right or wrong. So, it is our people who know the best whether democratic transition is moving in the right way or not. Even though we are moving in the right way, it is impossible for all to turn out to be successful, all of a sudden. It is not possible to gain success in every place. We need to try hard in every way. Some view the democratic transition in a one-sided manner.
When we were young, I had ever learnt the story of 6 blind Brahmins and an elephant. One claims that an elephant is a snake as he touches its trunk, with the other claiming an elephant is like a tree as he touches its leg. We cannot look in this way. If we want to know an elephant’s appearance, we are required to look at the whole. Like the above-said Brahmas, we cannot hold one-sided opinion only.
In making an effort for national development, it is of great importance to have the capacity of viewing the whole, for the national stability and for the establishment of democracy deep-rooted. We must view from the perspectives of economy, politics and social affairs. We cannot decide from viewing one-side or from the side we want to favor. It is incumbent upon the government to decide which must be prioritized.
DEMOCRACY COMES FROM THE PEOPLE
In making decisions as well, it is expected to be rightful ones. In case there may be some mistakes, we will never ever be reluctant to amend them. We have to amend it with courage. I frequently say that establishing democracy is establishing a culture. Democratic culture begins from the people. Culture starts from human societies. Everything which is laid down by a government is not possible without exception. So, it is of great importance for all the people to participate in establishing a democratic culture. We ourselves competed in 2015 general election under the motto, “Time to change.”
At that time, we had said that the time to change had already passed. But we have to try our best to accomplish as soon as possible. In the period we entered the second year, we used the motto, “Together with the People.” That is because people cannot be excluded in any change, if we want to make our system stronger and long-lasting. A government is also the one elected by the people. The government elected by the people is closely related with the people, paying attention to people’s attitudes and desires.
NEED FOR PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS
When discussing the democratic reform, I’d like to urge you to find a practical solution. And the past is important only to learn lessons from. As long as we cannot free ourselves from the past woes, we’ll not achieve our goal what matters most is for us to live in the present.
Those attending the meeting are needed to be loyal to the people. We must be truthful to our leaders who have fought for the independence at the cost of their lives. If we are dutiful, we can be said to be loyal.
The path ahead is quite simple but it is extremely difficult to tread on the path. May I conclude my speech by requesting all attendees to seek ways and means in order for us to be on the correct path as fast as possible.
Reporting by Mizzima. Additional reporting Global New Light of Myanmar