Tue 5 Jun 2012
Filed under: Opinion,Other
First I would like to acknowledge that I wrote this article out of much anxiety only after weighing the pros and cons again and again with a feeling full of hesitation and uncertainty. Sincerely, I have the feeling of anxiety whether it may have certain impacts on the two political leaders who I am sure have vision and insight much wider and deeper than me. However, with sincere truth from the bottom of my heart I wrote this article in connection with the two leaders who in fact are our hope and who are so rare that such persons are exceptional.World Economic Forum, a new step of Myanmar
Recently news on the Pyithu Hluttaw representative and Chairperson of National League for Democracy Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attending the World Economic Forum for Asia and Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand, has become the headline and breaking news of domestic and foreign media. Especially, it was significant news in the United States of America where I live. It would not be an overstatement if I say that the whole world was focusing on the forum.
The forum was interesting for Myanmar expats, because we heard that both President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would attend it. Another fact is that it was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s first trip abroad as she had never left the country for abroad since she came back to Myanmar in 1988. The US media were saying that it was a test of the democracy path paved by President U Thein Sein. The more heartening fact is that next year’s forum will be held in Myanmar. In my view, it proved that
Myanmar was advancing step by step towards the global stage. Besides, I felt so much joy to the level of having goose pimples. Nowadays, our country has been changing its image through reforms.
Anxieties of a person from afar
I listened carefully and seriously to the words of both Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Minister of Energy U Than Htay, as the tendency of international investors for Myanmar depends on their words. What’s more, the two leaders, President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, have already made a mutual agreement to set aside differences for the common interest of the nation and the people. What worried me then was that if the words of the two were contrary to one another the hard-won trust (including international confidence in Myanmar in addition to the mutual trust between the two leaders) would vanish.
I was relieved. I found basic similarities in their words. They called for investments in labour-based industries to generate job opportunities soonest. While Daw Aung San Suu Kyi focused on job creation investment, Energy Minister U Than Htay gave priority to inviting labour-intensive industry.
But my anxieties remained. I heard news saying that the President had postponed his visit to Thailand after the end of the forum. A friend of mine from the State Department asked me by phone. His question was “Why?” Columnist Thomas Fuller of The New York Times made a comment saying it seemed that President U Thein Sein felt irritated.
I was worried about it. It is not long since we have been seeing the dawn in our country after waiting for many years. We have just started to see national reconciliation a long-waited dream of our people throughout the past successive eras. Our democracy has not yet mature in all aspects, and our society still has much to do to reach the level of the US society.
Not to be haunted by nightmare
Even before the 2010 elections, some of my close friends of the State Department and the Congress asked why our government was so bitter about the word “Burma”. I explained our history and nationalism. So they told me that we need to differentiate between the term and the reality. So I said, “OK Mitchell I will not call you Mitchell, instead I will call you Clinton that is not your name. Can you accept this?” My clarification made them understand the matter. Then I explained the close relationship between the Tatmadaw (Armed Froces) and Myanmar history; the true nature and traits of Myanmar soldiers; and the need to stay away from words that may be haunting like a nightmare if there is wish to establish good relations with Myanmar and to understand that the word “Burma” reminds us of the colonialists.
Like us the United State had also faced civil war, but with different historical background. Moreover, they do not have the American race, but only the American citizen. We both drove out the British colonialists, but under different situations. I also explained that their country with constant strong citizenship and our country with constant strong nationalism were not in a parallel trend. When both President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that Bamar was just a race of the many ethnic races, we were incredibly inspiring and happy. At that time, there sprouted up a belief in my heart: “Once in a blue moon we have seen two leaders with impressive background. We have also witnessed the two have a lot in common in the way they think and work in politics. Both of them have unclenched their fists for the common interest which has been like a pipedream for our nation. Our nation would never be united again if it could not be united in such a rare time never before in history. Our nation would be able to restore national consolidation again for sure.”
Bring about the rule of law
Our nation has endless works to be done. For this, the two leaders have to work hard, no doubt about it. What comes the first and foremost here is the rule of law to which both of the leaders attach great importance. Looking back the history, it was the British colonialists who introduced bureaucracy to our nation along with the judicial system. I do not mean to point a finger at the entire system, but they had in fact practised the judicial system designed for the benefits of the ruler as the way colonialists behave. Jury system is exercised in US in which I am living. Jury system does not vest judicial power in a single judge, instead of the judge has to deliver the verdict based on the decision the members of the jury who judge whether the defendant is guilty or not. Unfortunately, our judicial system has definitely been a system under the thumb of the rulers.
In US, every citizen understands the constitution very well. They know the laws issued and also observe the actions of legislature and MPs in detail. Meanwhile, they also fulfil the citizenship duties. All the politicians, MPs, and senior government officials have learned the constitution and existing laws almost by heart. So far as I know, civic education there is at the extremely high level whereas in our nation, we still have to promote civic education and capacity building as well. We still have to walk a long way to reach such a stage and it is sure the road toward is not paved with roses.
It would be required the combined efforts of the government, political leaders, MPs and the entire civil society for the higher-standard civic education of our citizens. Politicians are responsible for leading the people. The beginning can be said fairly good as the democratic transition has gone far to such extent. Frankly speaking, most of us did not expect such much. Negligence is inseparable part of wisdom and thus I have said these words that odds and ends should be given attention too. Because the government, parliament and political parties are obliged to make sure our citizens adhere to the constitution and enjoy the full rights invested by the constitution. Besides, the leaders themselves have to set an example to the people.
The reason why I have clarified so much is that the Article 2 of the present constitution of our nation clearly states that “The State shall be known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.” Constitution is a set of rules prescribed for the communication between the government and the people, between the government and the parliament, between the government and political parties and between political parties and the people. Another fact is that as constitution is the highest prescription in every State, it is the bonding law every citizen of respective State including the president and prime minister has to abide by. I do not want to see a small mistake resulting in great remorse and am deeply worried that it would harm mutual trust and cooperation.
Create job opportunities
Expats like me could more understand homesickness. We, the citizens who are working odd jobs in neighouring countries, each have the will that our country stands higher than these countries. This is the love of the country and the nationalist fervour. If we could enjoy wages and salaries these countries pay, guarantees these countries offer and living standards these countries provide in our native land, nobody would take risks working away home. We would be working in our own country peacefully with our parents, relatives and community. Now our country is having bright prospects thanks to the two leaders’ bid to find common ground. To draw abreast of the neighbours, it is just enough if we work tirelessly (in Bogyoke Aung San’s words). We the citizens are in a hurry. Our country should be developed in good time.
While both Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Energy Minister invited investments that would create employment opportunities in Thai Forum, international investors gave a nod of approval and prepared the ground. Nobody should raise doubts and uncertainties of investors in such time. The confidence of the investors is worthier than gems and jewels. Protests for energy insufficiency and low wages spark in our country made headlines. An American businessman asked me about that. His question is, “Should we establish factories in your country with inadequate electricity and workers coming out on strike?”
I answered that these things do not arise overnight and have been underlying the country for years and they arise now because the people are granted more rights in improved political system. It is because of the opening up by the new government led by the incumbent President. He accepted my reason that such peaceful protests are usual in democractic nations. Though, I am concerned. They are doubted. They start to lose confidence. I do not want to blame the government nor the protesters. These are unavoidable. The energy issue could be resolved. It is possible with effective action and sustainable energy strategy. Also the salary dilemma could be settled in line with the law. But I am concerned that these would undermine the confidence of investors in Myanmar. I felt that any one or any organization should not block the investors in this situation.
Most of those who were present at the forum were from multinational corporations. Most of them were interested to do businesses and invest in Myanmar. There were also entrepreneurs who were following the forum news despite their absence. I am really worried that warning them to be not optimistic about Myanmar and speaking that there is no rule of law that could guarantee safety of their investments would shut the door on purpose. I firmly believe that the leaders love the country and people more than I do. The feeling of the one inside the country would not be the same with that of the one outside. I am ready to accept the blame if anyone says me, “What are you worried about, living abroad?” But, our hope is the present time Myanmar is passing.
Clearing the clouds of doubts
Only after President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi worked together in the common interest of the people, could we feel such hope and dream such dream. It is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the history of the country. I am also concerned that this golden opportunity will be lost. We have to wait for many years to have such a dream. Looking back to the history, our country was subject to internal insurgency and miseries due to suspicion and illusion. It is not so long that the country has been able to stand tall among the international community. I have become old already. I wish to be in my native land with peace of mind till my last breath if I have a chance to serve my country again. Here, I would just like to make suggestions to make public the laws, rules and regulations that guarantee Myanmar citizens abroad like me to come back with complete peace of mind.
In the world history or Myanmar history, a country under the good leader was prosperous. Now we firmly believe that there emerged our two good leaders. Our hope and reliance lie totally on the two leaders. The future of the country depends completely on cooperation of the two leaders on the basis of mutual trust and understanding.
We want no suspicion between the two leaders and between individuals and organizations behind them which could spur ugly history. We no longer want to worry about that. Mutual trust between the President and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is our nation’s future. It is our firm belief that the two leaders are more far-sighted and visionary than us. This being so, we don’t want any suspicion between them.
It was found that many politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) in the United States of America where I was living took great interest in Myanmar affairs. The result of Presidential elections will emerge by the end of the year. According to current information, Obama is gaining upper hand. Whether Obama or Mitt Rooney takes office, the attitude of the US towards the country can be better or more flexible. Changes in view and attitude are now in sight. Some call for fully lifting of sanctions while others disclose that once gunfire in Kachin State ceases there will emerge ray of peace in the nation.
In their seminars, they came to give more room for Myanmar analysts. It is because our democratization has become a new model. It is because a peaceful transition to democracy from autocracy. Myanmar transition process has become popular among experts. They all have a common ground that political reforms is to be accompanied by economic reforms; that changes must encourage economic development; and that the delay in economic development could be seriously detrimental to political reforms. (Therefore, they are providing aid to economic development.)
That assumption is right. Should political reforms take years to bring about development of socio-economic status the people could cast doubt on that political reforms. This is the greatest threat to our country. So, we would like to kindly request the two leaders of our hope to engage in development of national economy that determines our future, to create job opportunities for our unemployed people and to accept investments that can generate jobs in a short time.
Realizing that the future of our people depends on the two leaders, President and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, they should cooperate based on mutual trust and understanding. We would also like to call on the two leaders to embrace a fine tradition that serves the sole interest of the people, setting aside differences, egoism and selfishness that were born together with the independence. Let our dream come true.