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My Reflection on Mon National Day 2017: The 70th Anniversary

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The red and white clothing of the younger Mon generations have been painted all over lower Burma during the past week for the seasonal celebration of the Mon National Day in 2013. The face and bravery of the new generations have been painting a picture of a new page in the modern history of Burma; the road to peace and a newly introduced democratic norm throughout the country. I was born from Mon parents, therefore, I must not slip away in reflection of the day that shapes my vision of the future of Monland. This is the day that I reflected upon myself from past to present with the fresh air in the early February morning. I am aware the sky is blue in Canberra, the capital city of Australia, my second home country for over a decade. The song of Mon voices on the internet and other online features impressed me far from my homeland. The Mon Flag was flying above the sky. This is a moment of hope and determination for a new nationhood.

In fact, National Day is a moment of pride for me. I’ve preserved this moment dearly. Globally, over 20 countries have been celebrating Mon National Day in 2017. This is the sign of nationhood for all hope.

The Mon people founded the last Mon capital, Hongsawati (Hanthnwatee) in A.D (825), according to Mon historical documents. The scripts are written in both Mon and Pali text.

The two Mon princes, Samala and Vimala established the capital in early winter of the month in Mon calendar. It is the 1st day of the waning month winter. It is called ‘Gitu Mook’ in Mon text.

Event of setting up signboard of 70th Mon National Day Central (Photo: MNA)
Event of setting up signboard of 70th Mon National Day Central (Photo: MNA)
It is the winter season in my homeland for millions of Mon people in lower Burma with the surrounding river, mountain and flat paddy fields. It is a land where the paddy fields are full with the colour gold. The land is beautified by nature. Millions of Mon people will be celebrating our National Day, the date that marks the foundation of our last capital, Pegu, less than 1500 year ago. The Mon civilisation has been acknowledged by western scholars and Asia’s researchers on its significance and highly regarded as a progressive people in the modern era. As I am of Mon ethnicity by birth, with the hope of brighter future for our generation, I will be preserving a glimpse of hope through celebrating our achievement in recent years as the people of Burma’s stateless ethnicity for over 250 years. The history is an accord of our past but the present is a gift.

The celebration of National Day commonly prides its achievement om freedom, independence and other victories of the nation and its people. The Mon National Day has celebrated its past achievement and preserves its present trend; the unity of Mon people in all walks of life. It is a call for unity, a day for a united Mon people from social, cultural and political activists in order to preserve culture, language and identity. It is a call for fostering a unity in purpose for basic human rights, rights for self-determination and to form a Mon government in Mon State. It is a celebration of cultural significance of the past but with pride of the present. The foundation of the Mon civilization in Southeast Asia dated back in early A.D century and can be found widely in scholarly research papers online in the 21st century.

The lost, last Mon capital, Pegu (aka) Hongsawatoi in Mon text, has never been erased from the hearts of millions of Mon people in our time. The lost Mon monarchy, educated Buddhist monks, royal public servants during the massacre in 1757 is marked as a day of grief for our generation. The plight of the Mon minority under the oppressive military rules for over sixty years in Burma is under threat of losing identity and cultural significance. I will be searching for the best answer for peace and national tolerance with racial respect amongst people in Burma. It is my mission as a fellow countryman that I ask the hard question to all colleagues under this mission. Is this is our moment?

A man must live in peaceful conditions for social and recreational activities. I have lived in this environment for over fifteen years. However, I discovered on my recent trip to my homeland that men and women still live in fear of others. After over 200 years of fear between men in my homeland, I shall advocate for a new way of thinking and communicating among us. The painful past experiences have not been healed among us in a meaningful manner. Our founding fathers (the former Kings and Queen) had conceived the beauty of our land, language, culture and tradition but we are not traditional in a civilised manner due to oppressive of the past and present political system in our home country.

To date, the celebration of Mon National Day is fairly and freely organised in the homeland of Mon people, at the capital of Mon State. However, it is under the condition of public order for security purposes.
Searching for peace in Burma is a long journey. The attitude Burmese leaders have never proven is that racial respect is a policy of it’s government in the modern era. The truth of the matter is that Burma has been ruled by the military order for over six decades.

I was questioned by Burma’s senior military in 1993 on my part in working with democracy activists in Mon State. I read then the hearts and minds of the Burmese military officials. That it is their desire to rule Burma whatever the cost. Full stop.

The day of celebrating my National Day is not a threat to other communities at home or abroad. In the case of abroad, local government officials, Senators and Members of Parliament will give speeches to the Mon National Day event while at the homeland; strict orders are in place during the event. Mon youth and students will be uploading on websites and YouTube in celebration of the event. Is this our moment?

This is a new era. A new, “freedom” moment. Majority rule by military might has gone in Europe and Central Asia. Freedom of the individual is on call. Democracy is on call for each nation and its people around the world. It is time that human beings celebrate their moment of truth like Egypt did.

It has come to the point that Mon people will be searching for peace and unity among themselves and others. The progressive nature of Mon people has been contributed to from arts to language in Southeast Asia for the last twenty centuries. I am proud that we are not disappearing from the earth despite being attacked by all means from the military policy of assimilation in our homeland.

Pegu, our last capital is in full beauty with pagodas, temples, ponds and other cultural institutions built by our royal kings and queens in early A.D century. The Buddha Gotama visited the land during the eighth year of his proclamation as Buddha. According to his word, “the land will become the capital of the Mon people established by two brothers”. The Buddha predicted the foundation of the Capital when he saw two drakes resting above the sand-pit over the lake in Pegu.

Searching for an identity is my mission for peace and unity. It is each individual’s moral responsibility. A celebration of Mon National Day is just claiming my identity. It is a sense of dignity that I hold dearly because I have been taught to be a civilised man since I was a child.

The land of peace and hope will prevail only when progressive people in the land have a sense of identity and pride. My mission in seeking racial respect and cultural tolerance will be aided by seeking help from all my fellowmen and women. A culture of dialogue and conversation for cultural enrichment is my celebration for this event. Celebration of the past with a sense of hope for the future is my best effort to contribute for all.
It is not just a 70th anniversary celebration. It is rather a celebration of over two thousand years of our civilisation and achievement in our homeland. A day of unity with purpose is our best hope for restoring our homeland with dignity and prosperity.

I reflected on my past over 40 years since I was child on the meaning of Mon National Day. However, I had never found the answer until today. My Australian friends usually mock me and said, you are celebrating the National Day on the day of remembering your founding nation, but your nation has been destroyed. I always appreciated these comments because they reminded me that ‘I am a Stateless Person’. If the day came where I saw on the world map a place called “Monland”, with an ambassador to the UN Assembly and a President of Monland, I would find the answer that I have been seeking for over 40 years. On this note, my reflection is meaningful at least to me and above all, to you.

After 70 years of celebrating, and thousands of lives sacrificed to the discourse of liberation, liberty, dignity and political rights of the Mon people in the lower lands of Myanmar, the upcoming celebration of Mon National Day will be a new, fresh agenda. An agenda for peace in this nation but the process for peace must be consistently developed within social and political framework in our country. The nation of Mon People will only prevail when the common discourse of the entire Mon people are united for liberty, liberation and peace within the whole of humanity. It is a day of dignity, we are proud to be Mon man/Mon woman when dignity is preserved but liberty is enjoyed without any form of oppression and violence. A day commemorating the history, cultural identity and human dignity must be preserved and promoted for the common human’s discourse for peace and unity for the nation and its own people.

History is rich but making a new Mon social and political structure must be in line with the current social and political trend. It is everyone’s national obligation for attaining liberty and justice for all.

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