Minister Urges Cooperation at 70th Mon National Day Celebration

By Lawi Weng 13 February 2017

KYAIKMAYAW, Mon State — At a celebration of the 70th Mon National Day on Sunday in Kyaikmayaw town, the Mon State chief minister called upon the ethnic Mon people to work cooperatively with the government to strengthen the Union and to improve Burma’s democracy.

Although Burma has enacted major political reforms in recent years, Mon State Chief Minister Min Min Oo said the government still faces many challenges.

“I am glad to see us working together with the ethnic people today,” said the chief minister. “This will help us to build a strong Union. We have many challenges, but these challenges will help us to create more opportunities. I believe that our ethnic people will have courage and will move forward by working with the Union to strengthen our democracy and human rights.”

Thousands of ethnic Mon celebrated their 70th annual national day on Sunday, both in Mon State and across Burma. The main celebration took place in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw town, where residents from several townships gathered. The event showcased Mon culture, literature, and dancing.

“Our system of democracy respects the rights and dignity of the people,” added Minister Min Min Oo. “If the system did not do this, then it wouldn’t be real democracy.”

This year, the Mon State government donated 10.5 million kyats (US$7,600) to fund the working committee that planned the Mon National Day celebration. Normally, community leaders do not receive money from the regional government, and local leaders must draw from their own budgets to fund the celebration.

High tensions were felt prior to the celebration as the Burma Army had ordered the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) not to perform a military parade. On Sunday, the Burma Army drove several trucks to Three Pagodas Pass and threatened to attack the MNLA for refusing the Burma Army’s order.

The MNLA paraded anyway, and no clashes broke out.

Large celebrations for Mon National Day are traditionally held in several locations around Mon State. There was also a celebration in Mahachai, outside of Bangkok in Thailand.
In Mahachai on Sunday, Nai Hong Sar—the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) vice chairman—delivered a speech where he urged the ethnic Mon people to fight for their freedom.

“There are other ethnic armed groups who will fight for equal rights with us. We will work together with them,” he said.

Nai Hong Sar told the people not to enjoy living in Thailand, where he said that Mon people often serve as cheap laborers.

“You could go to work in Malaysia, Singapore, or Thailand to be a laborer,” he said. “But we still don’t have our own freedom. We still must take orders from others. So we need to give our blood and fight for our own freedom.”