August 6th, 2012 by Teresa Kok's Office
On the second day, after our AIPMC meeting in the morning in the five style hotel that we stay, we decided to drive around in Naypyitaw.
The secretariat of AIPMC has written letter to the Speaker of the Parliament to request for a meeting with him and to visit the Parliament, but we did not receive any response from him. So we decided to try our luck to the Parliament, even if they don’t allow us to enter into the Parliament, we can at least take a photo outside the Parliament house.
The roads in Naypyitaw are very wide, 5 lanes at one side. Our vans passed by a few ministries’ offices when we drove toward the Parliament house.
Before we arrived at Parliament house, we saw the big wide roads are blocked and a police guardhouse was put in the middle of the road. When our vans near to the blockade, the three policemen started to be on guard and looking at us, they were touching the pistols near to their pockets. Tour guide Phoenix then came down together with a few MPs to ask for permission to go into the Parliament house, as expected, our request were turned down.
After that, we were asked to go to one side of the road to take photo, we were not even allowed to take pix in the middle of the road although there is no vehicle passing by in the big wide road.
As parliamentarians, this is the first time where we were not allowed to visit a Parliament house. We felt very sad and sorry for the MPs of Burma. We wonder what kind of environment they have in the Burmese Parliament.
The Parliament was in session that week, but Aung San Suu Kyi took leave as she just came back from Europe. She was suffering from fatigue. Some people blamed her for not attending Parliament sitting, but after being rejected from entering into the Burmese Parliament house, I started to emphatise her.
I think Suu Kyi as a person who spent so many years in Britain and understands the function and role of Parliament, Suu Kyi must be very reluctant to travel so far to come to Parliament for such close-door sitting.
After that, we were brought to the replica of Shwedagon Pagoda in the centre of Naypyitaw.
Part of the replica of Shwedagon Pagoda nearby the Parliament building is under construction
As we entered into the temple, we saw workers pasting gold foils on the top part of the temple. The signboards show that women are not allowed to worship in front of the statues.
The signboards show that women are not allowed to worship in the Temple.
Visit MPs’ Hostels
After the visit of the Pagoda, I then asked the tour guide to take us to have a look at the MPs’ hostels. We were so surprised to see the MPs’ hotels are like low cost house in Malaysia. we were told that there is air-conditioner in each room but there is no TV set for them. All the MPs will have to take mini-bus to the parliament house and come back by bus too. We really pity these Burmese MPs.
Part of the Members of Parliament’s hostel
Buses are used to ferry MPs to Parliament
At night, we have dinner with the NLD MPs at the Chinese restaurant that we had dinner the night before.
All these MPs are 60 years and above. Unlike the ethnic nationality MPs, all except one of these MPs able to speak fluent English. This made our conversation easier.
Many of them have been jailed for 10 years and above. When they introduced themselves, they did not forget to mention the number of years that they have been jailed. I remembered one say he has been jailed for 18 years, another one said he was jailed for 20 years.
The MP has been jailed for 20 years but he is still full of fighting spirit.
Their political struggle experience had put us to shame. Sigh!! These great men and women have gone through so much for their nation. What is our hardship in Malaysia compare to them?
We have group photo with these newly elected NLD Members of Parliament after dinner at the Chinese Restaurant.
My mind of full of thoughts and heaviness after meeting the NLD MPs. This made me think of a famous verse of Jesus in the Bible:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls in to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (JOHN 12: 24)
Truly, these NLD MPs and thousands of their activists have really died for selves for years, they have died and be buried for the sake of democracy of the nation.
If one day Burma achieves democratization and modernization, it achieved with the blood and sweat and sufferings and sacrifices of thousands of these great men and women in Burma.
I salute these Burmese who have suffered and sacrificed so much for their nation, from the bottom of my heart.