BASIC human rights, was the foundation in which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Laureate and chairperson of the National League for Democracy, built her oration on at the annual ASEAN 100 Leadership Forum.
The Nobel Peace Prize recipient, addressed over 180 ASEAN 100 participants and international ambassadors in Myanmar, including Singapore and Australia.
Her topic was "Resilience in Turbulent Times". She said that Myanmar has faced turbulence in the past, and that there still is turbulence in the country now. "When I first entered politics in 1988, I entered as one of those working for democracy and human rights because I believe in the value of human rights and democratic institutions," she said.
She said that when she first started out on the road to democracy, it was turbulent in a sense that her group had to face many dangers and challenges. "The government of that time was not particularly interested in granting human rights or democratic rights to the people and we had to fight for those rights," she said.
"They did not know that freedom from want and fear were basic to the United Nations, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so part of our world was to teach them that their desires were legitimate," she said, adding that their simple wants and aspirations were not only right, but supported by the "great and wise of the world", and that they had to work for them.
She said that resilience is more than just endurance and that it denotes recovery but that they had to meet the challenges with not only courage and endurance but intelligence. She said that going through the turbulent times in Myanmar, what saddened her was the loss of confidence in themselves and their pride in their country, and this led to the loss of jobs in Myanmar.
"It's not joblessness that I'm worried about, it's hopelessness, not having jobs alone is not a big problem, but if they lose hope it is going to be a big problem for us in the future," she said. She said that Myanmar's resilience "got worn away", but that in order to shape the destiny of the country, intelligent resilience was necessary. "Resilience has a lot to do with vision, a vision of the kind of future you want for your people, for your country, for the world you live in," she said.
She noted that since 2010, and particularly since the beginning of 2012, many countries especially the countries in the ASEAN region have begun to hope that Myanmar is on the right path, and that they are headed for the kind of future where security and freedom will be assured for their people. "Our ASEAN neighbours are very much aware of what the problems in our region are, and what the problems of this country are," she said, adding that it is good to look at things with a critical eye, provided there is a desire to help Myanmar overcome the problems that is seen.
While Suu Kyi noted that the turbulence that they are now facing is different from the turbulence that Myanmar has faced over the last 20 years, she said that the turbulence now is due to conflicting perceptions of what is going on in the country. "There are many people who are very much focused on what they call the 'speed of change'; I would like you to focus more on the 'quality of change'," she said adding that speed is less important than proper sequencing than the quality of change, and that Myanmar wants changes that will take the country "forward in the right direction".
"As I said, this is a different kind of resilience, in those days, resilience meant an ability to face oppression, imprisonment and deprivation of one's rights, but now the resilience that we need is a different kind. It is the resilience that we need to overcome our own prejudices and to sort out our own personal inclinations from what we think is best for the country," she said. Now that Myanmar has "a few democratic rights", Suu Kyi said that it is important to use them in a right way, that they will be able to build up a "solid foundation" for Myanmar.
She brought up the need for education in Myanmar, stating that the current education system is in "a very sorry state", but that the government wants to change this. "We want to change it in such a way that our education system will enable us to not only overcome our problems but to overtake our ASEAN neighbours," she said, adding that it was an out-statement but that it was always good to be ambitious.
At the end of her oration, she said that she was asked about when she will be satisfied, to which she replied. "In some ways I can say that I will never be satisfied, because I will always expect my country to do better and better, but if I am to name one event, one achievement that would satisfy me, that would be national reconciliation," she said. She added that "national reconciliation" of all the ethnic people in Myanmar, and apart from national reconciliation, she would also like international reconciliation. The Brunei Times