Friday, March 11, 2005

Political Thoughts (1) from The Burma Monitor

This FBC Posting contains:

1). Political Thoughts (1), from The Burma Monitor

Compiler's Disclaimer:

Posting an item doesn't necessarily mean the compiler endorses or otherwisesupport the views expressed in it. This essay has some critically reflectiveobservations. Not sure who the author is. Regardless it is worthreading.

From: "Min Min" <>
Subject: Political Thoughts (1) from The Burma Monitor

THE BURMA MONITORPolitical Thoughts (1)

The rebirth of New Burma

A country is a territory limited by its boundary and solely ruled by aking or government. Three characteristics define a country. Theyare:(1) Geographical characteristic, including boundary area, physicalmaterials, worldly possessions, natural resources, etc.(2) People and their social characteristic, including customs,behavior, beliefs, religion, habitual actions, etc.(3) Political characteristic, based on the sociology and economy of a nation.These three factors are interdisciplinary and mutually related.


As the history of a country changes over time, the geographicalcharacteristic (boundary area) may change in size, either increasingor decreasing its boundary area. Over thousands of years, sizes ofsome countries will become smaller or larger than their original size. With reference to the history of Burma, the Pagan Dynasty originatedwith 19 villages and developed into different states at different timelines, such as: Eva Dynasty, Taung-Ngu Dynasty, Nyaung-Yan Dynasty,and Kone-Boung Dynasty. Comparatively speaking, the boundary of Burmastill remained constant for many years. It did not change very muchcompared to the boundary of the Alaung-Pha-Ya, founder of theKone-Boung Dynasty.

Two additional factors – the ability of the King or rulers, and theunity of the people – could also influence change in the boundary of acountry. It will be interesting to observe whether or not Burma'sboundary/shape will change in the future, depending on the governmentand its people.


The people living together within a nation or country are the mostimportant factor among the three characteristics. Referring to itsintellectual resources, there are about 135 ethnic groups anddiversities in Burma. The conflicts and problems between the majority(Bama) and minorities began many years ago and escalated to thehighest intensity. Under the military dictatorship's tyranny,anti-Bama feeling by minorities has increased in volume and has becomebitterness and hatred. Minorities now distrust whatever the Bamaleaders (majority) say.
An uneasy unity can be found on the surface, but hatred and hostilityare fixed inside the minds of minorities in Burma. Even those wholeft Burma and migrated all over the world also hate the Bama asbitterly as the minorities within Burma do. It is a very dangerousproblem for the future of Burma.

All states in Burma are named for the minority groups, such as: ShanState, Karen State, Chin State, Rakhine State, Mon State, and KayahState. The current nomenclature leads one to assume that a regionnamed for a particular minority group is populated primarily by thatgroup. In fact, this is far from reality. Therefore, it would makegood sense to eliminate all minority and majority names and replacethem with geographical names.

The use of minority names for states only enforces disunity andcreates more problems in such places. Rather than naming the statesfor minorities, these states could be named after their capitol orother popular city. For example, Shan State could be Taunggyi State;Kachin State could be Myitkyina State.

Geographically speaking, freedom and rights to exercise each state'slanguage, literature, culture and traditional ceremonies must beimplemented all over the country. The Shan National Day should not belimited to Shan State; it should be held for Shans who live in RangoonState or any other state. Likewise, the Bama traditional ceremonycould be held for Bama who live in Tachileik or elsewhere.

Suppose a qualified leader from any state is from an ethnic minority. For example, a Rakhine ethnic person whose native place in TaunggyiState (previously called Shan State) should be able to assumeleadership of the Taunggyi State if he/she is qualified. Under thefair and square treatment of law and generalized interpretation oflaw, all persons must have equal rights as human beings and need notbe distinguished by their minority or majority status.

Some pro-democracy leaders and activists are over-zealous andover-conscientious in their desire to topple the militarydictatorship. But to behave as leaders of a democratic countryrequires some restraint. As they will be responsible for drawing up aconstitution and creating federal laws, they will have to face thehard realities of Burma as well as respect the human rights of everyethnic group.

It is easy to demand human rights for Burma on paper. Among thepeople who are now trying to restore democracy and human rights inBurma, some leading political activists want to set up short-sightedprinciples for the minority issue, ignoring the necessary detailedpreparation for human rights related to minority concerns. Bydefinition, human rights for the future Burma will not be limited to asingle ethnicity because human rights are not the sole property ofBama only, or Shan only, or Chin alone. They are the rights of allcitizens in a united Burma.

If the leaders are to succeed, they must trust one another and believein human rights and democracy absolutely; they must determine to fightagainst the military dictators and create a "United States of Burma."

However, if one minority group wants to secede or separate its statefrom the united Burma, secession must be accepted and the state musthave the right to set up an independent country.
It is vital that governing powers be shared equally between state andfederal government, with a system of checks and balances firmly inplace. A detailed agenda is needed for democratic freedom and humanrights for future generations, as well as a plan for the developmentof the life of ordinary citizens of Burma.


People in Burma have demanded their democratic rights since Burma wasunder British colonial rule. Today, Burma is under military rule. Military dictators were able to take advantage of the country'spolitical weaknesses and disunity in order to take control.

When democracy issues for Burma are discussed, the National League forDemocracy (NLD) and Aung San Suu Kyi must be taken into account. In1988, people invited Aung San Suu Kyi to the political arena, electedher as a leader, and voted her NLD party to win an election with alandslide victory. There is no doubt about her sincerity, strongdetermination, moral principles and efforts on behalf of Burma. Shestands at the level of world leaders. Without her, the NLD partymight not be strong enough to continue. However, it is essential thatdemocratic principles and practices be firmly established in the NLDparty so that other party leaders can stand on their own and not betoo dependent on her. It would be very unfortunate for Burma, and awaste of precious time and effort, if other NLD leaders could donothing without Aung San Suu Kyi. In addition, the military regimecould easily take control of the NLD if Aung San Suu Kyi were the onlyeffective leader of the party.

Many political analysts are skeptical of Aung San Suu Kyi because shewas brought up in democratically developed countries throughout herlife and is very knowledgeable about democratic principles, rules,regulations and rights. Some say she is not able to lead herfollowers to rise above mere survival status under the currentstringent military rule and oppression. Though she has gained greatpersonal popularity and fame, many wonder if hope for democracy inBurma is too far a stretch for the people of Burma.

Two questions to ask: Are the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi working for theprocess of democracy for the people, or are the people sacrificingtheir lives and their hopes for the fame and success of Aung San SuuKyi and NLD?

Before the military takeover in 1988 and after the election in 1990,Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD had several chances to build democracy inBurma. Rather than seize the moment, they neglected or opposed thesechances. One day the history may accuse them of rejecting therevolution for democracy and human rights.

From 1990 to the present 2005, has the NLD done anything important orsignificant to promote democracy in Burma? Without Aung San Suu Kyi'sdecision or permission, the other leaders of the NLD do not dare totake action. Some tried but were blocked. At the same time, theycannot guide the country to develop political thoughts. They do nothave a strategy to build democracy. They do not have the necessaryability, intellectual capacity and industriousness. But all of themhave high hopes of becoming powerful leaders of the future country. So what are they actually doing? Pointing to the 1990 electionresult, they talk about handing over the state's power to them. Sincethe power could not be transferred to them, they have done nothing butwait and see. For the past 14 years, they have not understood theirreal situation. But whether they accept it or not, the revolution isstill going on.

To restore democracy and human rights in Burma, not only Aung San SuuKyi or the NLD but also individual citizens must take responsibility. Democracy is not limited to certain groups, such as student, worker,peasant or monk. It applies to all people, including those who havesettled in Burma from elsewhere, either recently or for generations. Especially those who bear arms should understand the principles ofdemocracy; they themselves should participate in pro-democracymovements, knowing that democracy would benefit them, too. Armedpersonnel are also ordinary citizens who live together with othergroups. Therefore, verbal abuse and insulting behavior towards themis counter-productive and should be avoided.

It is questionable whether the NLD and some leading activists areinvolved in the democracy movements for the people or merely forpersonal gratification, ego, power, glory, selfishness, authority, andwealth. Those that follow the wrong path for selfish reasons onlyincrease the chances that military dictators will continue theirtyrannical rule of Burma.

Restoring democracy and human rights is not just a dream, so ourthoughts and theories should be applicable to all people in all walksof life. Narrow-minded ideas based on own party, own strata, ownreligion, own ethnicity should be avoided, and authentic unity shouldbe built for all persons. Strict avoidance of those who talk likebraggarts and seek only personal gain by oppressing weaker groups isessential.

We are living in the era of democracy; there are no other politicalpolicies comparable. In Burma, there are many parties andorganizations talking about democracy. However, though they may talkabout democracy, in reality they fight one another just like previousdictators did before them.

Whichever group or party (military or civilian) forms the government;it must implement a democratic system. A military-guided democraticgovernment would not be the same as that guided by civilianpoliticians. Rather, it would support laws and a constitution thatenable the military leaders to hold state power as long as they could. On the other hand, a civilian politicians' democracy would createconstitutional laws allowing civilians to hold state power andrepresent the people in the country.

Democracy and human rights are the only way to guarantee that peoplefrom all walks of life enjoy authentic freedom and that all politicalparties play a role in Burma's social and economic development.

Burma's revolutionary history, regrettably, has been full ofin-fighting and destruction, much to the detriment of the country. Weshould learn from our history and put a stop to wasted time, energyand efforts. While it is tragic that we've only moved backward formany years, the time is at hand to educate ourselves, unite and worktogether for the sake of Burma.
Comments and Discussions are welcome.