Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon
My Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings. Mingalar Bar.
These are challenging times. My prayer accompanies every one of you as you face the challenge of the pandemic. God will protect our nation. We are blessed with another election in November. This calls us to fulfill our duty as citizens by electing our representatives. In this historic moment, I address each one of you, not as a politician but as a religious person, as your own brother desiring only the common good and the welfare of the whole community of Myanmar.
1. Our Sacred Duty: To vote is a birthright. Voting is not only a right but a sacred duty. This is part of our long pilgrimage to democracy. I urge everyone to assure that your name is in the voters' list and you are there in the voting booth on that Election Day. Active participation of citizens is essential in any democracy.
2. The only way to Durable Peace: The flowering of robust democracy is the only hope for curing this nation, bleeding with fraternal conflict. As sons and daughters of this great golden nation, we deserve peace. Armed response has painfully killed thousands, made thousands refugees and IDPs. This dark era needs to end. Nobody has won a war in this country. Peace is possible, peace is the only way. Our great religions promote the principle of peace, I urge you, vote for peace.
3. Empowering the Voiceless through Democracy: Our people are a graceful people, celebrated for their hospitality and love by the world. For too long our people have lived without articulation. Democracy empowers the weak and the vulnerable. For the real participation of the poor in power, elections are vital. Let not poverty deter us from election participation. Opt for parties that opt for the welfare of the poor.
4. Ensure Economic and Environmental Justice: All religions have affirmed that there is no peace without justice. Peace in this bleeding nation will not arrive until the resources of this country are kept at the service of all, especially for the poor and marginal communities. Judge your candidates, avoid those looters and cronies who ravaged all our resources and made us poor. Thieves cannot represent us.
5. Identify Merchants of Hatred: Community and care for the common good are the pivots on which a democracy marches on. Communal hatred and scapegoating are becoming potent vote bank tools. The world community expressed its horror at the manipulations by merchants of hatred in Myanmar, masquerading as protectors of religion and race, abetted by Facebook. These people are in collusion with the looters of our nation, not the guardians. Identify them and consign them to the garbage of history.
6. Avoid Supporters of Foreign Mafias: Myanmar welcomes good-intentioned foreign investments that build a sustainable future for our people. Unfortunately, hordes of foreign elements in collusion with local cronies, have declared Myanmar as the last frontier for effortless loot. Many of these unpatriotic persons are competing in this election. Identify them. They are not to be part of any democracy.
7. Invest in Human Development: For a nation blessed with young and energetic human resources, a rich future awaits if the demographic dividend is nurtured. Our rulers must affirm human development as a fundamental right. The previous regimes sadistically denied the development of our people, reducing this once-rich country into a low developed country. Let us choose candidates who have a clear plan for human development.
8. Look for Integrity not only Intelligence. Myanmar needs more leaders with intelligence but who are animated by a sense of servant leadership, embedding great values of honesty, integrity, accountability and transparency. Power comes from service. Myanmar has had enough strong leaders. It is time for servant leaders.
9. Leaders to fight the multiple pandemics: The COVID pandemic response showed how a determined government could reduce the ravages. Myanmar people have suffered other pandemics: the pandemic of hunger, the pandemic of conflict and displacement, the pandemic of unsafe migration, the pandemic of low-quality education. Let this election bring warriors who can fight against all these pandemics.
10. Vote for a true Political and Economic Federalism: General Aung San lived and died for the dream of a true political and economic federalism. Vote for those who support General Aung San’s dream. Let there be a new dawn of peace and prosperity.