Will Burma Never Make A “U” Turn Move?

The Global Digest (English) - - Contents - By Jonathan Thang

Former mil­i­tary man turned head of USDP and state, Pres­i­dent Thein Sein promised that Burma would not make a “U” turn in its re­form process dur­ing a tour to five Euro­pean coun­tries in late Fe­bru­ary and early March 2013. Even though Thein Sein’s gov­ern­ment bul­lied the whole world with the most imag­i­na­tive fla­vor of ef­fec­tively wellde­signed bo­gus, he could not hide all their empty prom­ises and dirty acts, in­clud­ing wip­ing out eth­nic groups one af­ter an­other. Let us get straight to high­light­ing how in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties and the cit­i­zens of Burma are be­ing mis­led.

In or­der to get credit and ap­proval from in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties, Thein Sein’s gov­ern­ment boasts that they have suc­ceeded in tak­ing re­mark­able steps by hav­ing so-called cease­fire agree­ments with eth­nic armed groups and a bo­gus demo­cratic fla­vor. Th­ese steps were just a show as can be seen by ob­serv­ing sev­eral oc­ca­sions of wars be­tween the Burmese mil­i­tary and Kachin Army and Shan in the name of the “Myan­mar Peace Ini­tia­tive Move­ment,” which is fully sup­ported by the Nor­we­gian gov­ern­ment. Mean­while, Kachin armed groups are be­ing cast out of their own ter­ri­tory while the gov­ern­ment is still giv­ing its word to in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties that there is a cease­fire agree­ment with the eth­nic armed group. The same sit­u­a­tion ap­plies to Shan and other eth­nic groups. While still in the process of be­ing plugged out one af­ter an­other, the gov­ern­ments speaks of cease­fire agree­ments, peace and sta­bil­ity.

In­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties do not see the real in­ter­ests of in­no­cent civil­ians and eth­nic groups in Burma but only see their own prof­itable busi­ness deal­ings with civil­ian-dress mil­i­tary men. In the long run, it will not only dam­age the in­ter­ests of lo­cal in­no­cent peo­ple but will also spread a de­grad­ing moral at­ti­tude be­yond Burma. Within Burma, the sta­tus and rep­u­ta­tion of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties’ roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is be­ing dis­cred­ited.

Lack of lead­er­ship skills and a lack of willpower to co­op­er­ate among eth­nic groups sim­ply lead to the fall of ev­ery eth­nic group. Even though there were times when the com­bined strength of all eth­nic groups was much greater and more ad­vanced than the mil­i­tary forces, eth­nic armed groups have never fully co­op­er­ated enough with each other to over­throw the mil­i­tary. This sim­ply proves that there is a lack of lead­er­ship, lack of strat­egy and ex­treme ego­ism.

Di­vide and Rule Pol­icy Ef­fec­tive to De­mol­ish Eth­nic Groups

Op­po­si­tion groups were di­vided by the mil­i­tary regime from the time that rev­o­lu­tion first be­gan. Eth­nic groups were never able to reach an agree­ment in or­der to co­op­er­ate for a com­mon in­ter­est in the process of rev­o­lu­tion. Even Thein Sein’s trip to Nor­way proved how his gov­ern­ment ma­nip­u­lates op­po­si­tion groups in Nor­way by invit­ing NLD-LA, one of the most ac­tive op­po­si­tion groups, to make a peace deal in Burma prior to this trip. NLD-LA was kept wait­ing for sev­eral weeks at the Thai-Burma bor­der un­til Thein Sein’s Euro­pean mis­sion was com­pleted. There­fore, main mem­bers of the NLD-LA group liv­ing in Europe were un­able to make any ma­jor protest dur­ing Thein Sein’s visit. Thein Sein and his team were re­luc­tant to face any demon­stra­tion with­out in­clud­ing ma­jor po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists, and they even suc­ceeded in abol­ish­ing the NLD-LA Nor­way branch by their cronies in Nor­way. The NLD-LA group re­turned from the meet­ing in Burma with empty prom­ises and no re­mark­able progress, but Thein Sein re­turned to Burma with a big smile.

Let us go back to the his­tory of civil war: when­ever a war broke out be­tween any eth­nic armed group and the mil­i­tary, only one eth­nic armed group at a time en­gaged with the Burmese army in self-de­fense. Other eth­nic armed groups were either un­der a cease­fire agree­ment or had al­ready fled from their base.

Fail Strat­egy

Op­po­si­tion groups and eth­nic armed groups failed to ap­ply the right strat­egy again and again from the be­gin­ning. Ac­cord­ing to the 2008 con­sti­tu­tion, the con­sti­tu­tion re­quires a ma­jor­ity of more than 75 per­cent to pass leg­is­la­tion while 25 per­cent of seats are re­served for the mil­i­tary. Amend­ing the con­sti­tu­tion re­quires a vote in which more than 50 per­cent of elected of­fi­cials sup­port the amend­ments. In the 2008 con­sti­tu­tion, there is no in­ten­tion to im­ple­ment a fed­eral sys­tem and no guar­an­tee for the rights of eth­nic groups and civil­ians. Know­ing the to­tally un­ac­cept­able flaws of the 2008 con­sti­tu­tion, the NLD party led by Aung San Suu Kyi con­tested it by elec­tion in April 2012.

The 2008 con­sti­tu­tion was writ­ten un­der the former mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment in which cur­rent pres­i­dent Thein Sein was Prime Min­is­ter, and the USDP was set up largely as a civil­ian proxy of the mil­i­tary. “At present, the con­sti­tu­tion is the most dif­fi­cult con­sti­tu­tion in the world to amend, the most dif­fi­cult,” Suu Kyi told re­porters. “If we want to amend the con­sti­tu­tion, we have to change the process of amend­ment.” How­ever, Suu Kyi also said that the party which she leads, the Na­tional League for Democ­racy (NLD), and the USDP had agreed to work to­gether on draft­ing the amend­ments. “If they re­ally want to change the con­sti­tu­tion, there’s no rea­son not to fully co­op­er­ate with them,” Suu Kyi said. “All to­gether we can co­op­er­ate. The USDP made a pro­posal to or­ga­nize the com­mit­tee to amend the con­sti­tu­tion. We did sup­port that pro­posal.”

The strat­egy which Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD is us­ing is a dan­ger­ous game in pol­i­tics. Since 2012, af­ter Aung San Suu Kyi con­tested to win by elec­tion, the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment in Burma has to­tally changed, but the word “change” sim­ply doesn’t mean the right di­rec­tion or even a bet­ter one. Af­ter an­a­lyz­ing all the in­for­ma­tion, it seems that mil­i­tary men will con­tinue to dom­i­nate pol­i­tics in Burma in

the name of democ­racy. The same group is dom­i­nat­ing and tak­ing con­trol of ev­ery ma­jor de­ci­sion-mak­ing body of the gov­ern­ment in the name of “re­form.” This strat­egy will never bring gen­uine democ­racy and peace to Burma. In this case, why would Thein Sein and his gov­ern­ment want to make a “U” turn since, in the name of democ­racy, this “change” has turned them from il­le­gal rulers to the le­gal rulers of the coun­try. In con­clu­sion, the same wicked civil­ian-dress mil­i­tary men will for­ever dom­i­nate the coun­try by grant­ing unim­por­tant po­si­tions to power-hun­gry, im­ma­ture politi­cians and self­ish op­po­si­tion groups.

Un­der the name of democ­racy and peace, more and more eth­nic groups are be­ing wiped out from their own ter­ri­to­ries. Most of the land of in­no­cent civil­ians is be­ing con­fis­cated in the name of de­vel­op­ment projects, for which in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties’ co­op­er­a­tion with the civil­ian-dress mil­i­tary regime is di­rectly re­spon­si­ble. The fact is that noth­ing must be com­pro­mised if we re­ally want to find the truth. The truth is to grant rights to those who are en­ti­tled to have their own rights. As long as no one steals the rights of an­other, there will be peace.

Burma’s Pres­i­dent Thein Sein and his Min­is­ters and Staff mem­bers dur­ing a visit to Nor­way

Burmese peo­ple protest dur­ing Thein Sein a visit to Nor­way

Jonathan Thang is an As­so­ciate Editor at the Global Di­gest mag­a­zine, and also a leader of Matu Burma Foundation based in Nor­way. He has an MA in Eco­nom­ics.

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