State Counselor Calls for Unity, Asks Business Community to Help Rakhine Rehabilitation

By Htet Naing Zaw 23 October 2017

NAYPYITAW— In her recent speech to the people across the country, Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said no matter what difficulties the country faces, they can be overcome by the unity of her people.

In her call for people’s assistance, the State Counselor urged businesspeople to give a hand in rehabilitation works in Rakhine State, in a ceremony to accept donations for the restive state in Naypyitaw on Friday.

Many in Myanmar would argue she has a right to believe so as history has proved it was the people’s unity that turned her National League for Democracy from an opposition party to the current ruling one.

Now with mounting international pressure on the Rakhine State issue, the 72-year old has called on the people’s collaboration again.

In the northwest of Myanmar, rehabilitation works are urgently in need after Muslim militant attacks and counter military clearance operations have sent more than 600,000 self-identifying Rohingya Muslims fleeing across the border to Bangladesh and displacing internally nearly 30,000 ethnic Arakanese and others.

She encouraged businesspeople to provide input, admitting that measures taken in the past to address the issue were not sufficient. She called for collaboration so as to identify new approaches in solving the problem.

“Big businesspeople are the strength of the country. The government is also the strength of the country, and so are the people. I assume that the sound foundation of the Union’s project for Rakhine State was laid today with these three strengths,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Rather than financial help or material support, we are asking for mental help—I mean both from your head and heart. I would call it goodwill. I would urge cooperation for the country,” she added.

The government formed the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine on Oct. 15 to engage in humanitarian and rehabilitation works. Businesspeople donated nearly 18 billion kyats on Friday.

“I’d like to urge the businessmen to provide frank suggestions. We may not be able to accept all the suggestions, but we’d choose the most appropriate ones and implement them. In sorting out priorities, we also have to choose low-hanging fruit, and there are certain things that need to be implemented in the long-run,” she said.

“We businesspeople stand by the government. We don’t want to lose democracy from our hands. And we don’t want to lose the Rakhine and border with Bangladesh. The government should adopt a firm plan and we’d like to provide funds for it,” said U Khin Shwe, chairman of Zay Kabar Co.

U Aung Ko Win, chairman of Kanbawza, made the largest contribution of 3 billion kyats. U Maung Weik, chairman of Sae Paing Co, gave1.5 billion kyats, and other businessmen such as U Zaw Zaw, U Chit Khaing, U Tun Myint Naing, U Htay Myint and U Khin Shwe also made contributions.

The event was in response to a request made by the businesspeople at the 2nd anniversary of nationwide ceasefire agreement signing on October 15 in Naypyitaw to provide assistance in Rakhine issue, U Zaw Htay, director-general of State Counselor Office told the reporters.

“There are three priorities, first is repatriation and resettlement, second is rehabilitation and the final one is development and ensuring of conflicts in the long-run,” said U Zaw Htay.