Cardinal Bo appeals for ‘discerned choice’ during Myanmar’s upcoming elections

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, called on the people in Myanmar to “make a discerned choice” and “vote for peace” in the country’s coming national elections.

The Catholic church leader urged the public to exercise their “birthright” and “sacred duty” to cast their votes in November as “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,” said the prelate in a letter of appeal on Sept. 1.

“Active participation of citizens is essential in any democracy,” said the cardinal.

He stressed that being heard during the elections is the “only way to durable peace.”

“Our great religions promote the principle of peace, I urge you, vote for peace,” he said, adding that the “flowering of a robust democracy is the only hope” for the country, which he said is “bleeding with fraternal conflict.” 

“As sons and daughters of this great golden nation, we deserve peace,” he said.

Cardinal Bo said the armed conflict in the country “has painfully killed thousands” of people and displaced thousands more.

He said this “dark era needs to end,” adding that nobody has ever won a war in Myanmar.

The prelate urged the public not to allow poverty to deter them from participating in the elections because democracy “empowers the weak and the vulnerable.” 

“For the real participation of the poor in power, elections are vital,” said the cardinal as he called on the people to vote for parties “that opt for the welfare of the poor.”

He reminded the people that peace “will not arrive until the resources of this country are kept at the service of all, especially for the poor and marginal communities.”

The Catholic church leader urged voters to “judge your candidates” and do not vote for “looters and cronies who ravaged all our resources and made us poor.” 

Cardinal Bo said the public must “identify merchants of hatred” who are “masquerading as protectors of religion and race.”

“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,” he said.

The prelate stressed that the world has already “expressed its horror at the manipulations by merchants of hatred” in the country.

“These people are in collusion with the looters of our nation, not the guardians. Identify them and consign them to the garbage of history,” said the prelate.

Cardinal Bo also lambasted groups “supporters of foreign mafias” who are competing for the elections. He said the people should avoid what he called “unpatriotic persons.”

“Identify them. They are not to be part of any democracy,” he said.

The prelate urged everyone to “invest in human development,” adding that “candidates who have a clear plan for human development” should be elected.

He noted that previous regimes “sadistically denied the development of our people, reducing this once-rich country into a low developed country.”

He said a “rich future” awaits that country if the “demographic dividend” is nurtured and the young will be given the chance to be heard. 

He said future leaders of the country “must affirm human development as a fundamental right” and voters must look for “integrity not only intelligence.”

The cardinal said the country needs servant leaders “embedding great values of honesty, integrity, accountability, and transparency.”

“Myanmar has had enough strong leaders. It is time for servant leaders,” said the prelate.

Cardinal Bo said Myanmar must vote for leaders who could “fight the multiple pandemics.” He said the coronavirus pandemic has “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,” he said.

The prelate urged the people to “bring warriors who can fight against all these pandemics” in the coming elections. 


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