‘State Gov’t Lacks Community Connection’—State Counselor in Shan State

By Nyein Nyein 6 February 2019

CHIANG MAI, Thailand—State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi urged the Shan state government to have a closer relationship with its people and fulfill the needs of the public as necessary during her trip to townships in eastern Shan State which commenced on Tuesday.

She met locals of Tachileik and Mongyawng townships on Tuesday, and Kengtung, Mongton and Mong Hsat townships on Wednesday, to listen to their concerns and to receive their questions. She gave public replies to those gathered at each township.

“Frankly, I’ve noticed that the state government and people do not have the communication you should have. Many of the public concerns and issues heard during meetings like this should have been dealt with by the state government,” she said during her address to the public in Kengtung.

The State Counselor, who also takes the role of chairperson of the Central Committee to Implement the Development of Border Areas and Ethnic Nationals, visited Kachin and Chin states in October 2018 and made a second trip to Chin State in January. She will attend Shan State Day celebrations in the Shan capital Taunggyi on Thursday before her trip concludes.

During her speeches in eastern Shan state, she focused on the importance of regional development, including access to clean water, road and electricity infrastructure, employment and improvement of the education and healthcare sectors. She spoke about land issues, building peace and rule of law.

She pushed the need for the state government and public to communicate frequently and to tackle issues such as requests to upgrade urban drainage systems and other township matters as necessary. She also encouraged the locals to raise their concerns with respective township and state officials who are assigned to deal with the matters.

She highlighted that it is inappropriate for these issues to be solved only after Union-level government officials pay visits to a region or state. As for issues to be taken to Union level, she said they would be dealt with immediately or directed to be solved through the relevant channels.

In Kengtung, the locals requested the government’s help in the reopening of a road near Mongla closed by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) since October 2016 and the opening of the border gates with neighboring China. The State Counselor responded that the border gate matter would need to be discussed with China. As for the road closure, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that because it relates to the lack of peace and stability in the region, internal conflicts must first be resolved.

“Thus we need peace as well as development. I have repeatedly said it.…We cannot maintain peace without development, and vice visa. They are inseparable,” she added.

Similarly, in Mongyawng on Tuesday residents raised the issue of border trade with China, saying they don’t have free movement in order to carry out trade as the town is adjacent to Mongla’s Special Region No. 4, which is controlled by the National Democratic Alliance Army.

U Aik Kham Hlaing, the Shan State parliamentarian from Constituency No.1 in Mongyawng told The Irrawaddy that the local people have high expectations of the State Counselor, and hope she will ease their concerns. He said, “they were told their complaints would be shared with the relevant ministries and replied to later.”

As during almost every trip the State Counselor makes around Myanmar, she spoke about the role of young people in society and the importance of vocational training.

She urged the people to carry out their duties and responsibilities while the country is in the process of building a democratic federal union.

“In a country like ours where there is a need to establish unity from diversity, we need to nurture understanding and mutual respect of one another,” she told the public in Tachileik on Tuesday. “It is acceptable to love your own people but it would be a grave mistake to be intolerant of others because of this reason.”