Viewpoint: Daw Moe Moe Lwin

On March 30, 2016 the National League for Democracy (NLD) took over the responsibilities of the government with a clear mandate given by the people in the multi-party general elections held in November 2015. Accordingly, we have a bounden duty to be accountable to the people. The respective ministries at both the union and the state levels have shared with the people their primary goals, the ways in which they are seeking to implement those priorities, as well as the challenges that remain and the future direction they will be pursuing to best serve the interests of the people.

For my part, I would like to highlight three important matters. The first one concerns “the change” that the NLD promised in its election campaign. When we said “change”, we were referring to two types of transformation: changing the system that runs the country and also the mindset of the people. Both the government and the people have to be on-board to ensure the success of such significant changes. Neither the people nor the government acting alone can bring about the level of growth that we are seeking to implement.

The government has the duty of taking the lead in overhauling the way the system works. However, we also need to keep in mind that this will involve updating the old system, which has been deeply entrenched in our society for over 50 years. Our main goal in this regard is to demonstrate that the government is here to serve the people, and that it is not to be feared. Instead, we wish to create a government that is respected, valued and trusted by the people. We will continue to strive to achieve these goals by enacting laws that will protect the people, while also removing and amending those that would suppress the people.

When we speak about changing the mindset, I am talking on behalf of a government that is free from corruption. Some may think that incorruptibility simply means being free from taking financial briberies. But as I have often cautioned, there is more to it than that. There are four types of corruption, namely: desire and greed; anger and hostility; fear; and ignorance.

Uncorrupted government servants are those who always refrain from being self-serving or from serving the interests of their inner circle. Instead, civil servants must be the personnel who have enough integrity to stand up for truth and justice – only then will they be free from desire or greed. The act of refraining from bribes by itself is not sufficient to claim oneself as free from corruption.

Anger and hostility refers to causing harm to people you do not like based on maliciousness, and I believe my government is free from such acts. When I speak of fear, the underlying idea is that the people remain free from fear. In this respect, the government must also be free from fear and have the courage to do what is right. If the government does not have the courage to do what is right for the country, then it should not have the right to assume the responsibility of the state.

The second matter that I wish to highlight is our common effort towards national reconciliation. In recent years we faced many daunting challenges, among them economic hardship, and we have never had the privilege of enjoying the full essence of peace. In fact, we have not enjoyed it since we became an independent state, meaning that national reconciliation is absolutely essential for us. In our relationship with all organisations in the country, whether we like them or not, we must always put at the forefront what is right and just for all. Our country is composed of many diverse organisations, many ethnic nationalities and many different religions. If we desire to genuinely achieve national reconciliation, our relationship with all the organisations must be based on equal treatment and fairness. We are all well aware that the peace process we are pursuing is not an easy one; yet we have high hopes and we will continue to strive to reach a substantive outcome.

Our goals are achieving peace and national reconciliation. In our work to accomplish these, we highly appreciate and value the support, assistance and understanding that we have received from our friends from around the world. Ultimately, however, we must be the masters of our own destiny.

In 2016 just after the NLD government took office, I promised that we would always cherish and care for the people and be loyal to the nation. This is the final point that I would like to make: loving and caring for the people means continually striving our utmost for progress and development to improve their lives. Just saying that you care is not enough. If one genuinely loves and cares for the people, one must strive for their physical and mental well-being as well. In 2017 we allocated an unprecedented amount of funding for the health and education sectors. This is a different political path from past practice, and I can guarantee that we will be able to reap the benefits of such investment in the future.

As a result, we have already witnessed a momentous rate of development in the public health care sector, with the international community acknowledging our progress. In particular, significant progress has been noted on the fight against tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund, which was established to fight these three diseases, commended Myanmar’s remarkable achievements in this area. In the past Myanmar was ranked at the bottom of the list in the fight against these three diseases, but now it has moved to the top of the ranking. The Global Fund has not only praised our progress but also pledged an additional $500m in funding for the years to the next fundraising conference in 2019, in order to keep up the momentum.

The considerable improvement of our transportation networks is another success story. When we issued our economic policy, we stressed that job creation was among one of the most important priorities. In 2016-17 we managed to establish a good transportation network and improve our electricity sector, which unleashed new opportunities for job creation. In other words, people will have more opportunities to create their own businesses, and with them, more jobs. Better infrastructure has also enabled a greater number of places – where transportation and electricity are now available – to attract new investment and development.

The link between advancing infrastructure and creating new jobs is an important one. The utilisation of public funds to build and implement infrastructure projects for the people should therefore be systematically aligned with future job creation. In some of the states and regions, public funds allotted in 2016 to complete ongoing projects were not only put to good use, but authorities actually managed to save large sums as well. Without sacrificing the quality of the projects, some states and regions still managed to achieve financial surplus.

In conclusion, it is important to note that even though one year is not a very long period, we have still managed to introduce change in many areas. At the time that the NLD took over the responsibilities of the state, our slogan was “time for a change”. Now, I feel that it is time for us to change our slogan to provide another impetus. I have decided on “together with the people” to express our desire to continue on this journey together as a collective. We, the government, will be accountable for our actions, and will work together with the people.

The above is an abridged version of a speech delivered by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Nawpyidaw, Myanmar for the ceremony of the one-year anniversary of the government in March 2017.