Can Myanmar Generals be Trusted as Parners in Nation Building?

The trustworthiness of Myanmar or Burmese/Bama leaders 

The record of Myanmar leaders, both civilian politicians and generals, since 4 January 1948 speaks volume. 

Here are some devastatingly consequential episodes that have major impact on the development of the multiethnic country.

Story I: Distorting the Foundational Agreement of Burma by building, constitutionally, a Unitary State. 

1) Aung San signed the Panglong (Pin-lone in Burmese) Agreement to build the post-British Burma as a Federal Union of Burma, the conceptual and political foundation of the country patched together out of disparate and warring ethnic feudal political and cultural systems - Shan, Kachin, Chin and Karenni (Mon and Rakhine with their previous dynastic seats of power were excluded).

2) Aung San was killed on 19 July 1947. 

3) Despite the lipservice the Bama leaders paid to the spirit of Panglong (federalist union of equal partners among the signers of the Pang Long Treaty) the Bama politicians went ahead and drafted the Constitution of 1947 with the Unitary State - where power was concentrated in the hands of the Bama-controlled government of PM U Nu. 

Story II : Smashing completely even the Discourse of Federalism and blatantly building a Bama-racist military state 

1) 2 March 1962

General Ne Win overthrew even U Nu's nominally federal government, abolished the Constitution and absolved the bi-cameral parliament as the Shan led the Federalist Movement to reform the State along the original federalist lines. 

Story III: Using the Rohingya as a proxy against the secession-minded Rakhine and then Launching a Slow Genocide against the Rohingya 

1) July 1961, under the Caretaker Government of General Ne Win, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Tatmadaw (the Army, its most powerful wing) Brigadier Aung Gyi led the Ministry of Defence's efforts to end the Rohingya Mujahideen armed revolt, persauded the Rohingya leaders to surrender in exchange for full recognition of their ethnic identity, and opportunities to participate in the political affairs of the country. (In those days there were less than 6 brigadiers, no inflation of general titles, and half-Chinese and entrepreneurial, Aung Gyi was Ne Win's most capable deputy, who set up the original economic foundation for the whole Armed Forces). 

2) in 1963, a year after the military coup, Ne Win fired Aung Gyi and proceeded, in due course, to turn against the Rohingya - whom the Ministry of Defence was using as a counter or proxy against the nationalistic, secession-minded Rakhine.

3) today the military has succeeded in halving the Rohingya population - the Rohingya in diaspora are about the same size as those who remain in the vast open prison of Rakhine State where they are subject to a slow genocide sponsored and directed by the military-controlled state, with the collaboration of the Rakhine racists. (Ironic that the oppressed Rakhine would prefer to beat up and destroy the Rohingya in their state while it is the Bama and the Bama military that are sucking then dry, economically). 

Story IV: Making bi-lateral Ceasefire Deals and then provoking the ceasefire groups to war, in the early 1990's

1) Emboldened by the self-destruction of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) - then based in the War territory and manned by the Wa in the rank and file, and engulfed by the popular revolt by the Bama majority in the "proper Burma", ex-General Ne Win instructed his chief of intelligence - Brigadier Khin Nyunt to launch a ceasefire initiatives with armed minorities in the strategic but peripheral regions.

Khin Nyunt succeeded in reaching about 2 dozen ceasefire deals while splintering the strongest Karen National Union. 

The Kachin Independence Organization even had a signed ceasefire deal - which in due course proved worthless - less than the use value of a toilet paper roll, literally. 

2) on 18 October 2004, General Khin Nyunt was sacked unceremoniously for his defiance against Than Shwe's order to keep the nominal Prime Minister post and give up his power base - military intelligence; he was arrested as he stepped out of the airplane at Yangon Airport.

In the years that followed the "Architect of Ceasefires" was ousted the military leaders moved to tighten the vice of control and pressure over the armed ethnic minorty ceasefire groups. The result is the renewed civil wars in the states of Kachin, Karenni, Shan, as well as Palaung, Kokant territories, etc. - and military tensions in the two War regions. 

3). In 2012, when Thein Sein occupied his Yo-Yo Preisdency the military launched the attack on the Kokant - whom they had granted Special Administrative Zone.

4) that was followed in 2013 by the Burmese military's attack on the Kachin Independence Army - which it assumed could be easily defeated like the Kokant. 

5) there are more fightings today than there were in 1992, and war refugees now number over 100,000.

Story V: Coopt the NLD within the framework of the Constitution of 2008 - written to perpetuate the military's unquestioned domination with the veneer of civilian democracy. 

1) 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi decided to play ball with the military leaders on the latter's turf. 

2) 2015, she beat the military - as expected - in their own game.

3) after the NLD's resounding victory, the military leaders moved to strip the President - which will be picked by Aung San Suu Kyi - of any voting rights in the governing National Defence and Security Council: to ensure that the military has the majority on this powerful body. 

4) the-soon-to-be history ex-General and President Thein Sein instructed his men to expand the military's powers by snatching the Immigration and Manpower Ministry. 

And you still think these Bama generals are trust-worthy partners in nation-building. 

Good luck! You will need a great deal of it.


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