MICHAEL SHAIZA, known to many as a person who believes in giving and sharing to the next person in need, doesn’t matter who, has a reputation of being called a generous giver.
Michael has been a social activist for the last 35 years. He says, his endeavor and his cause is for the welfare and well-being of the people of Ukhrul District and for the development of the society. Staying true to his social activist heart, during national lock-down, when most families were struggling to make ends meet, Michael reached out to many in need and extended relief in terms of daily essentials, medicine etc. He helped people regain their trust in humanity. He is a person who loves to give, unlike most people taking from others and so he is appropriately the political youth leader.
He wears many significant hats and juggles through his social and political duties. Michael is currently the BJP Manipur state co-incharge, BJP Ukhrul district, the president of Ecological Rehabilitators Association (ERA), and also the chairmon of Wino Bazaar Tangk, the locality he resides in Ukhrul.
In the ongoing Manipur state Shirui Lily Festival 2022, Ashin Shaiza sat down to talk with him on various topics, including the festival.
Michael what are the changes you want to make, or at least see in the Shirui Lily state level festival if you’d be asked to?
As far as I’m concerned, to be very precise, first of all the conservation and preservation of the state flower of Manipur, Shirui Lily (Lilium Maclenae or Kashong Timràwon in Tangkhul language) has to be the first priority despite the fund and frolic associated with the festival. The primary concern of the tourism department of the state should be the preservation and conservation of this very rare flower that is Shirui Lily, which also happens to be the state flower of Manipur. And at the same time, not only conservation and preservation, promoting it, not only in state level or national level, but in the international arena as it is one of the rarest flowers endemic to Shirui kashong in Ukhrul District. Also generating fund for the conservation and preservation of Shirui Lily. But at the same time imparting knowledge and the know-how to conserve and preserve the flower. Moreover, constructions of more resorts near the premises of the state flower of Manipur will be at the interest of the state as more people will have the opportunity to see the flower, closer to the peak.
Also read: ShiRock 2022: War of bands begins
At the same time, a conservatory laboratory of Lilium Maclanae should be constructed so that any tourist or anyone who comes to Shirui Kashong should have the opportunity to see her real majestic colours. It is worth remembering that the it was the English Botanist Dr. Frank Kingdon Ward from the New York Botanical Society who first discovered the flower in 1946 and named it after his wife, Jean Macklin.
We could keep microscopes for tourist and visitors alike to observe the many colours of the Shirui Lily, which is why it the rarest flower. Say a charge of Rs 500 which could go directly to the state’s exchequer. Or perhaps the revenue could be use to fund in preserving the flower. The government should be open to ideas and suggestion to best promote this rare flower.
In your opinion, is the Shirock, Cultural events, sport events like MTB, marathon among others has relevant to the Shirui festival?
I feel strongly that Shirui Lily festival should be a way of life for everyone. Of course I am extremely happy and proud that the government has incorporated health in the 4th edition of the festival, such as the half marathon. At the same time there are other events like Literature: Essay writing, Painting etc. But there can be other subject and avenues that can be added and incorporated in festivities. And I sincerely believe one of the events that can be incorporated in the four day festival is perhaps “History”. History in the sense that we have our own history, Shirui Lily has her history. So, in a very systematic and pictorial manner, history of Shirui Lily and Tangkhul tribe can be shown. It will bridge the missing emotional connect too. For example documentary about the significance of Shirui Lily and stories about how it came to be can be screened at Ukhrul Town Hall. Such historical screening facilities are installed in all the developed countries. The show will not only be free but the people who come to watch the screening could be given something in return so as to encourage the people to learn about the rich culture and heritage of our state.
What can you do, or rather what do you want to do for the people?
I want to raise the level of ease of living, especially is a district like Ukhrul. If I could arrange more district transportation with the minimum price, that would enhance the level of ease of living, for example. More health camps or more primary health centers will bring ease of living. So if I can make sure that power supply comes as often as possible, if I can assure regular supply of water, better connecting roads and better roads, this will bring ease of living. If I can ensure that in times of emergency there are facilities and amenities for medical help, this will bring ease of living. So my primary concern as of now is that, since Ukhrul is a very young town, infrastructure development is also by all standards, young. If I can be a part of building positive change, I believe that I will be happy and proud of my deeds.
God willing after years, if I get a chance to serve the people officially, my priority may change. Right now I am speaking as an ordinary civilian, as a layman. But then, if I can be a part of any kind positive changes in the society, be it welfare and well-being for the people, any kind of development that I can give a nudge, I’ll be very happy and satisfied. As the Chairman of Wino Bazaar, and also the co-incharge of BJP Manipur state Political programs and meetings, I want to do a lot of things. So, as a layman, if I can be a benefactor in enriching and enhancing the livelihood of another ordinary citizen, I will be satisfied.
Did you always wanted to be where you are? A politician in the making?
Not exactly. Actually, my father used to be the president of the Ukhrul District Sports Association (UDSA) for two terms and I was very fond of Peter Sheldon, the famous goalkeeper of England. There was a football event every December those days known as Under Five feet. I also took part in that as a goalkeeper. I found goalkeepers to be very enigmatic, very mysterious, and at the same time, very elegant. My father wanted me to be a striker but then I wanted to be a goalkeeper. For four years in winter, I was the goalkeeper of Wino Bazaar. So I really wanted to be a football player. Cricket became one of my passions too. Later my father being a doctor wanted me to become a doctor, but that never materialised as I wasn’t keen.
As I grew older, a realization came to me that you can help the people the most when you are officially elected. For example, I can be a social activist. I can be a social worker but if I don’t have a social appointment from the government, my service to the people is much more limited than if I am officially represented. That way I can do much more for the people. The realization came to me much lately. I used to save my pocket money and give it to the people in need. Some MLAs are very corrupted but if I ever get a chance I will help without hesitation, without loss of course. But what I mean to say is I will try to help everyone in need with what I get. My intention is in whatever capacity I can be of help to the people.
What is the best way to ensure that elected representatives fulfill promises?
As we are in a democratic country, the citizens have to ensure that the government performs. Also equal responsibility and accountability for good governance. Because if the person that they have officially elected is not performing as per their needs, then the elected representative has to appraise the necessities as regularly as possible because even the elected official is a mere human being. So, anybody can make mistakes because nobody is perfect. The common citizens have to ensure that the representative fulfill the demands, fulfill the promises, and the commitment he or she had made before he was elected. They have to ensure that all such promises are fulfilled. Doing so is very vital. It proves to the common populace and the citizens that the elected representative is accountable and responsible and that the elected is expected to perform.
What do you want to say about the rising drug and alcohol menace and addicts in our town? What can we do to help the addicts?
I have been waiting for this question for a long time. I am happy that you asked. It is a reality today. Unfortunately, there is a locality in Ukhrul town headquarters called Greenland where about 70% of the youths are addicts. I had the pleasure and honour of helping the locality in such a way that the incumbent deputy commissioner of Ukhrul, Krishna Kumar whom I had konw from way back. He was he was posted he was in Bishnupur and in Chandel also. Luckily, the Greenland chairman’s daughter who is also Miss Manipur, AR Mathing gave me a call. She requested me if I could help her to get an appointment with the DC to help the women society of Greenland. They were trying to rehabilitate the drug addicts. So, I call up the DC and he obliged. As a result, awareness programs was held officially enhanced by the district authorities. But the increasing concern is that addiction is spreading like wild fire. Sooner or later, hundreds if not thousands of families in Ukhrul District will be affected in one way or the other. Therefore, as the saying goes, better late than never, in my own capacity I’ve helped the Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long(TKS) also. As am part of a government, and as a senior BJP leader, I believe the drug menace is not something to be taken lightly. We have to remedy it before it gets out of hand. Help is going on, and in my own humble capacity, district level, and at the state level capacity, I am helping the addicts to get them to addiction programs. I have arranged small financial assistance and detoxification to some. But, to be honest we have to do much more. The youths of Ukhrul are in great peril. There is high change that many more will fall prey to drug addiction. We have to act before it’s too late.
Tell us a little about yourself to wrap up this conversation.
I love playing badminton, I love playing table tennis. In fact in 1998, I was the district champion of Table Tennis and I represented Ukhrul district in Imphal. I am also a Taekwondo red belt. I have always been a sports person. I represented Ukhrul officially from Savio School while I was a student there. It was in 1997 or 1998.
I love reading books and I have read all the books by Mario Puzo. I am old school that way. I love holding the book in my hand and read it instead of reading from mobile phone or computer. I treasure the values of old school. In 1990s when we played cricket we used to punch holes with needle in the cricket bat and apply oil on it whole night but these days we can easily get bats that has oil like English willow by paying merely Rs 35,000. Everything is easily available these days. The preparation and anticipation of the event was more fun and satisfying those days.
Thank you, Michael Shaiza