YANGON—On this day in 1947, Myanmar national hero General Aung San made a controversial speech from the balcony of Yangon City Hall. He and thousands of supporters in Fytche Square, now Maha Bandula Park, did not know that the speech would be his last.
He addressed the crowds as the chairman of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League and a parliamentarian of Lanmadaw Township. His one-hour speech sparked a controversy due to his use of harsh language.
“Even if we implement various projects after gaining independence, we have to work for at least 20 years. To speak bluntly, because it is easier for people to remember blunt speaking…to speak bluntly, we must work our asses off and buckle down, only then will we not be left behind over the next 20 years,” he said.
“If you don’t work, you won’t be able to catch up with Thailand. Among independent countries, Thailand is not up to much. But then, compared with our Burma, Thailand is steps ahead of us. If other independent countries make one stride, we have to make several strides. Only then will we be able to catch up with them in the next 10 or 20 years.”
“I want you to understand clearly that unless and until we catch up with them, even if this country is independent, it will be a country similar to a prostitute who has to charm everyone.
“Unless and until there is unity between ethnic people and the national people, even if this country is independent, no matter which party and which government is in office, our country will remain a prostitute country.”
Some critics called his speech too offensive for a leader. Six days after he made the controversial speech, while criticisms were still in the air, Gen. Aung San was assassinated, shot 13 times at Yangon’s Secretariat Building.
However, his political views and quotes from his last speech on the reconstruction of Myanmar, national unity, discipline and the bad habits and public morality of Myanmar people are still popular catchphrases in Myanmar 73 years after his death.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.
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