- Aung San Suu Kyi, November 14, 2010
Unofficial translated transcript. Distributed by UNDP Rangoon
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s public address
NLD Headquarters, 14 November 2010
I have to begin by thanking you for your support. We haven’t seen each other for a long time but I am happy to see that our mutual faith remains strong, it fortifies me. In order to do our work, we must know what the people want – you do know what you want, don’t you? Well it’s fine to know what you want but you must also know how you are going to achieve what you want. I believe that politics must be learned. I have often said, in my talks with the youth, I don’t believe there is such a thing as good people or bad people, or smart or stupid people, I only believe that there are people who can learn and people who can’t (Applause). I believe that we, the people, can learn very well. It’s not enough to know what you want but also to know how to achieve it with integrity. I say this not to patronize, I say from experience that no matter what the goal, if the path is without integrity, it will lose its way and be destroyed. This is why we must achieve what we want with integrity.
I know you have lots of questions to ask me and I want to hear the voices of the people but I can’t hear through the cacophony. I believe that I will now have the chance to listen to the voices of the people. While under restriction, I listened to foreign radio broadcasts to hear what the people are saying. Its very tiresome to listen to the radio for five to six hours a day but I do this out of regard for the people (Applause). So I believe that I am, to a degree, aware of the wishes of the people. I don’t believe I know everything. This is not possible. So the people must make their voices heard by us. This will help us help the people. I believe that the people now realize that nothing can be accomplished without the participation of the people (Cheers and applause). Because nothing can be accomplished without the people’s participation, we would like to create a democracy network across the world, of the people and by the people. It is only when we strive with this mentality, can we serenely achieve our democratic goals. In short, it means we have a lot of work to do. You will not get anything without working for it.
We Burmese blame it all on luck. But do you know what luck means? Luck means you reap what you sow. So if there is anything you want, you have to work to achieve it. We cannot simply bribe the people and promise them the impossible (Cheers and applause). We will try hard and pave the road that the people want. We will pave it together and we will take that road together. It’s not right that one person paves the road while the other stands idly by. Speaking of paving roads, maybe I picked an inappropriate analogy (laughter and cheers). It was a slip of the tongue. What I mean is that we will walk the road that leads to the democratic goals. We will walk on it together, we will pave it together. It is only this way, can we reach our goals. Don’t wait for others to do it for you. We will not “force” you to do it (alluding to forced labour). If you do not put your mind and soul into achieving it, otherwise, who knows whether it will end up with the tar being stolen (alluding to the shoddy quality of the roads being built because of corruption – loud cheers and applause follow).
I know that your show of support is not without expectation. The burden of these expectations is great and the responsibilities are immense. But I am not one to shy away from responsibility. But I am afraid of not being able to live up to my responsibilities (Applause). I will do my utmost to live up to these responsibilities and call on the people to help us, to advise us, to point out our shortcomings. Pointing out shortcomings, if done in sincere goodwill, is very helpful. It will help us help the people achieve their aspirations.
I would like to ask the people to please communicate with us openly and courageously. Please don’t have any qualms about talking to us. We won’t do anything to you (cheers and applause). If we are not in agreement, we will let you know. This is the basis of democracy – that of freedom of speech. But freedom to speak is not the same as freedom to be abusive (cheers). Well, there may be a bit of admonition (she laughs). It is very important to be able to achieve mutual understanding. To be able to exchange views. We have to practice this and improve on this.
Perseverance is important. We must continue to persevere from the start to the finish. The work is never done. Even if something is finished, there will be something else. Building a nation is like this, one thing after the other has to be done. There will never be full satisfaction of the people but we must strive to achieve a measure of satisfaction. I cannot promise this, but with the trust, dependence and support of the people, I will be fortified because I cannot do it alone. I don’t want to do it alone. Doing it alone is not democracy (cheers). I have no intention to do it alone. I will do it with the majority, with the people of this country, and with the global community that have shown us goodwill and support. We will do it with everybody. We have to keep this firmly in mind.
Courage means is not what some people think, to be up in arms and being a hero. Courage means the resolve to achieve ones goals. We must have this kind of courage. Go to the movies if you want a hero. Courage is a daily task. Don’t we people have to muster the courage to face each day? We have to use this courage beneficially and effectively for our country.
It’s not enough to think only of oneself or one’s own family. I want to reiterate this. Please don’t have the attitude that politics do not concern you. My father has said that before, that you may not be concerned with politics but politics will be concerned with you, you can’t avoid this (applause).
What is important in a democracy is that the people at the back must be able to keep those who are working in the front, under control. This is democracy (applause). The people, who are the majority, must have the right to keep the rulers, who are the minority, under control. This is democracy (applause). So I will accept it if the people keep me under control. But of course, I do not like it if those, who are not of the people, keep me in control (cheers and applause). But then, I only say this in passing. During the time of my detention I had a lot of interaction with the people who were in charge of my security. They have been good to me. I have to say what the truth is. Since one must show appreciation to those who are deserving, I say with sincerity that I am grateful to those who were in charge of my security. I want the people to be able to have mutual understanding and gratitude. A revered monk once said when I was young, that those who were worthy of gratitude and those who showed gratitude were hard to find. I found the latter hard to accept. I thought that human beings were capable of showing gratitude. But that is not true. There are some who show ingratitude (applause). What does showing gratitude mean? It means just to have mutual recognition.
I haven’t finished consulting with the NLD, but I will not only work with the NLD. I will work with all democratic entities and I would like the people to encompass us. We will tell the people, explain to them what our decisions are. There may be things that we decide which the people may not like. But this is natural. Not everyone can be of the same opinion. Accepting that there can be a difference of opinion is a democratic principle. Why do we do this? We must gain the trust of the people not the votes of the people (applause and cheers). We will gain the understanding and support of the people. I apologize that I cannot clarify this further at this stage but it would be reckless of me if I were to start announcing one activity after the other, just after my release.
In the meantime, we would like to hear the voices of the people. We will decide how to proceed after listening to the voices of the people. But as I have said, we will use the might of the people and work with all the democratic forces and we will work for national reconciliation. In doing so, we will do it in a way that would bring the least damage to the people. I can’t guarantee that there will be no damage at all. If I were to do so, it’s another form of bribery to say that by following us, there will be no sacrifice. But we will find the least damaging way. There may be some sacrifice, we have suffered, our colleagues have suffered, so I ask you for a little forbearance if you have to sacrifice anything. You can’t simply want something without sacrifice.
(Responding to someone in the crowd): If you say you had forbearance for too long, what was it that you had to forbear? It is important to differentiate between right and wrong and to have the courage to stand by what is right, but what is right can be relative to the occasion. My father used to say that he was not afraid to stand before the court of his conscience (cheers). Since I have stood before the court, I am not afraid to stand before the court of my conscience every day. I ask the people to stand before the court of their conscience to find the answer as to whether one is undertaking what should be done. If you can do this, your might will increase immensely. Remember if might is not used rightly, it is a menace. Might that is used rightly cannot be overcome by anyone (applause).
I would like to repeat what I said that we have to work together to achieve success. You will not succeed just by wishing and hoping. You must be able to know how to achieve your aspirations and have the courage and ability to do so. We will find the best way. That is to find a way that avoids bringing suffering to the people as much as possible to achieve these goals. I am a fervent believer in national reconciliation. I believe that this is the path we should take. Let me openly tell the people here that I have no grudge against the people who kept me under restriction (cheers). I believe in human rights and the rule of law. I will always strive for this. I don’t harbor hatred of anyone. I have no time for this. I have too much to do to harbor any hatred. The people in charge of keeping me under restriction were good to me. This is the truth and I value this and I am grateful.
So let me say thank you. Keep up your strong resolve. People say that the courage of the Burmese is like straw fire. I don’t like this. This shouldn’t be so. A human being must have all its manifestations and live in human dignity. Do you want human rights? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins by saying that everyone is born with inherent dignity. This dignity must be upheld (applause). The dignity commensurate with these rights must be upheld. I don’t wish to make a one-sided statement by repeating what should be done for the people. There are also things that the people must do. Everyone must know his or her responsibility and be able to fulfill them. Only then will our country develop. So it goes without saying that whether or not our country has developed, is something that the people will know more than I do (cheers). But rather than blaming who is at fault for this lack of development, I would only like to ask for the opportunities for us to work together hand in hand (applause).
I would have to say that there are some of us who have lost sight of that goal. But to have to walk the path to reach this proper goal is priceless. Man is mortal. One day it will all be over, but before it is over, how one has led one’s life is the most important.
So I take this opportunity to honour those of our colleagues and comrades who have given their lives to the cause for democracy; to honour our colleagues and comrades who are still in prison. Let us pray that they will be released as soon as possible (cheering).
End of public address.Full transcript of November 14, 2010 public address here.
Thanks to Debbie Stothard and ALTSEAN-Burma for making this transcript available