-- President Thein Sein
People in Myanmar call Thein Sein a 'world class liar', and with good reasons.
A scene from Myitkyina late May this year where the streets overflowed with supporters welcoming the delegates of the Kachin Independence Organization and Kachin Independence Army coming to the Kachin capital for ceasefire talks with Thein Sein Government representatives.
They know why his life-long senior boss Than Shwe hand-picked him: to play President in a new set up of Myanmar's military-crony complex, who is able to lie domestically and globally with a straight face.
Lest we forget President Thein Sein was the man who has a consistent pattern of lying with a straight face as one of Than Shwe's deputies. Bespectacled Thein Sein's quiet, unassuming and sincere exterior betrays the real liar, militarist and racist inside.
When he was a regional commander of Eastern Command in the 1980's, he presided over cases of land grab from poor farmers - a land theft that is. And when he was confronted with the evidence he flat-out denied it.
After his powerful seniors fell - such as General Khin Nyunt - Thein Sein chaired the National Convention which took nearly 13 years to write the current Constitution of 2008 - written primarily with the purpose of safeguarding the long-term structural and personal interests of the military and its leaders.
He was a 4th ranking general with the executive authorities as Prime Minister when the military leadership blocked emergency aid to the Cyclone Nargis Victims in May 2008, and instead prioritized completing its sham National Referendum to usher in the military's "democracy-proof constitution".
When he officially assumed Presidency in the Burmese summer of 2011 after again a rigged election in November 2010 he read a speech, hitting all the right liberal nodes.
But when the occasions demand his genuinely reformist, visionary leadership Naypyidaw's front man has unraveled, showing his true colors.
Losing his remarkable stamina to lie, in the recent town-hall meeting on the Voice of American earlier May Burmese Thein Sein was seen rushing out of the interview, without addressing them truthfully, or not at all, when a barrage of hard questions were directed at him on the Rohingya ethnic cleansing, sham parliamentary system, etc from the Burmese on the floor.
I offer my pick of 7 lies
Second, when that backfired leading to a public relations disaster, Thein Sein externalized the blame to the racist Buddhist monks - which have been preaching hatred and fear of Islam, with the open backing of Myanmar's ministry of religion and home affairs - and blamed the 'ultra-nationalist Rakhines', while barking humanitarianism and human rights.
Third, immediately after these two moves, he set up a 27-member presidential Inquiry Commission on 17 August 2012 to investigate the causes of the 'sectarian violence' between the Rohingya and the Rakhine, stacking it with some of the Who's Who in Burmese politics, academy, high society and business and used the sheer establishment of the Commission to make his Government appear, at the United Nations General Assembly, to be 'doing something' to address the world class slaughter. Thein Sein was proven right about the value of bringing in reliable Presidential Whitewashers as the latter simply absolved Thein Sein Government of any foul play in the ethnocide and genocide of the Rohingya since the 1970s.
Fourth, President Thein Sein consented to signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Organization of Islamic Conference according to which OIC was to open a liaison office in Rangoon to help with humanitarian assistance to both the Muslim and Buddhist victims of mass violence. That was in the midst the organizing's growing call for taking the issue of death and destruction of the Muslim Rohingya to the Security Council, only to renege on the agreement when the OIC, the only international body that dared to call Rohingya Genocide by its proper name, lost its steam. Thein Sein and his men instigated the popular protests against the visiting OIC delegation in Sittwe (and other cities of Myanmar) led by its Secretary General and created a 'democracy pretext' - that as President of a (make-believe) 'democratic government' he must heed the voices of his people!
Fifth, President Thein Sein reiterated a world class official lie to the CNN that 'according to his government, there is no policy of discrimination based on race or religion' and repeated his ethnocidal words: there are no Rohingya in Burma, but only Bengali whom the British Raj brought for farm work in the colonial Western Burma after 1824.
Sixth, this Burmese man whom the International Crisis Group, out of its collective anti-empirical delusions, picked to be its 'man of world peace', not exactly the award's title once again repeated Naypyidaw's constitutionally, structurally and ideologically anti-democratic stance: that the Burmese military is the most special or exceptional institution in national politics who need a guaranteed and special place in a democracy. The ICG's man of peace and the Nobel Institute's short-listed Peace award nominee is nothing if not blatantly diabolical and Orwellian.
Seventh and finally, in the following YouTube clip President Thein Sein is caught, once again, deliberately mis-framing the Kachin Independence Arm as 'a terrorist' organization that was carrying out sabotage against Burma's main hydropower plant which generates electricity for the country. In his own words, "n this day and age the world no longer accepts practices of extracting funds from innocent communities for insurgency activities".
He offered 'terrorism' and the old unacceptable insurgents' practices as the two main causes of the break-down of the 17-years ceasefire with the Kachins. Since the 17-year ceasefire broke down 2 years ago, the Kachin Independence Army has, with remarkable degree of self-restraints, re-framed from any type of activities that can ever be legitimately called 'terrorist'.
"The Kachin Independence Organization does NOT represent the interests of the Kachin people, nor does it enjoy the popular support."
The late Havel, the author of the classic 'Power of the Powerless', might say, "Liars of the World, Unite!' - and they certainly.
Ask ICG's Jim Della-Giacoma and Thein Sein's spokesmen Ye Htut and Htay Zaw.
Alas, Orwell's ghost roams in president Myanmar.
“Whatever our prospects for a bright future may be, we are still at a sensitive stage in the reform process where there is little room for error; as such, senseless, irrational, reactionary and extremist behaviour and action by some of our citizens may lead to the failure of the reform process itself. I would like to seriously caution you that we, as citizens, must refrain from doing anything that will jeopardize our transition to a peaceful, democratic nation.”
"This quote from President Thein Sein’s speech to the nation was not the manifesto of someone worried about his party gaining votes or being re-elected as president. Made after the release of the Rakhine Commission report on 6 May, it was a bold statement of vision for his country as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation. It came at a time of crisis as essentially Buddhist-on-Muslim violence has been spreading. It was not a view necessarily supported by many of his compatriots who share his Buddhist religion or Bamar ethnicity. The near-silence of the National League for Democracy’s Aung San Suu Kyi on this issue in recent months has only underlined how far out in front of popular opinion he has been in his rhetoric."
Indeed that was, well, the rhetoric.
The job of an expert or analyst is to tease out presidential deeds from the rhetoric.
But apparently, ICG operates in the world of Myanmar rhetoric, and emphatically, lies where rhetoric and deeds enjoy the equal analytical status.
So, Mr President, more lies, please!