[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
No Subject Given
- Subject: No Subject Given
- From: brelief@xxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 03:13:00
Please direct all rebuttals, responses, and letters to the editor regarding
Kohei HASHIMOTO's obnoxious article so symptomatic of Japanese companies and
government officials to "Voice Magazine." "Voice" is a monthly
publication of the PHP (Peace-Happiness-Prosperity) Institute which belongs
to the Matsushita Group, manufacturers of National and Panasonic products.
The address of the organization is:
PHP Institute Co.Ltd
11 Kitanomachi Nishi-Kujo
or The Editing Department --
Voice Editing Section
3-10 Sanban-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102
We would also be very interested in anything you write to PHP about this
Thanks very much.
Visakha and Ken Kawasaki
"Voice", Magazine for September 1997
(By Kohei HASHIMOTO)
Mr. kohei HASHIMOTO is a General Manager and Senior Research Fellow of
the Department of International Affairs, P.H.P Research Institute in
Japan. The Institute itself is one of the top prominant THINK-TANK
Institution in Japan.
TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD OF MYANMAR DEMOCRATIZATION.
EVALUATE THE PROCESS TO DEMOCRATIZATION LED BY SLORC JUSTLY.
Whenever I heard the words of "Democratization", I always feel gloomy.
Because, originally, the democracy should be one of "means" to create
a stable society of freedom, fairness and equality, but recently the
people started to handle the democracy as if it is the "purpose".
They ignore various steps which they must pass through to reach a
democratic society, and rushed to induce a political ideology named
democracy which has no substance itself. As the result, they gave big
damage to the stability of their own country. Brundi is a best
example. A civil war broke out because their political balance was
broke down by the democratic election which was held only once.
For past several decades, foreign policy of western countries,
especially America made some big misjudgements on importance of
various factors which became causes of both domestic and international
movements of several foreign countries. As the result, they had to
takeexpensive political countermeasures often. Because, political
leaders, policy decision makers or intellectuals of western countries
ignored the reality of the third world and applied
unctitical-ly---teir.:political ideology based on their own western
historical minds. The word of "democratization" is the good example.
In last October, Massachusetts State and 7 cities including
San Francisco of America declared the suspension of trade with
Myanmar. On April 22 of this year, American sanction on investments
to Myanmar was enforced. Against it, ASEAN side approved the joining
of Myanmar and Laos in July and now they are making their best efforts
to realize ASEAN-10 by joining of Cambodia. For these movements, how
Japan should take the democratization movements ?
Now, I would like to state my opinion that how we should re-evaluate
the efforts to democratization of both present government and
democratization group led by Mrs.Suu Kyi and then what to do with ODA,
which is the indication of Japanese foreign policy.
Misunderstanding of Mass-medias.
Mr. Ne Win who took the power by coup dletat in 1962 promoted the
closed socialism policy by one-party dictatorship of the Burma
Socialist Programme Party (BSPP). But, this closed type social and
economic policy resulted a long economic staggnation and after all
Burma became a Least Late Developed Country (LLDC) of UN category in
187. In 188, the discontent of the people by the economic difficulty
had exploded. Demonstrations and riots by the people broke out all
over the country as anti-government movements.
Incidentally, Mrs. Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar after 30 years to look
after her sick mother. After she saw this situation of the country,
she was awakened politics and begun to lead democratization movements.
She was given an enthusiastic welcome by the people, because she is a
daughter of "Father of the Independence" late General Aung San.
On September 18, 1988, General Saw Maung took the power by the coup
dletat and established "State Law and Order Restoration Council"
(SLORC). It calls itself as a provisional government and declared the
abovlishment of Burma type socialism. In November of the same year,
they enacted Foreign Investment Law and started to take open policy
toward foreign countries and transfered to market economy. (The name
of the country was changed from Burma to Myanmar in this time.)
SLORC also asserted the abolishment of one party dictatorship system
and established parliamentary system with multi-political parties. At
the same time, they promised to hold a General Election in 190 and
established the Election Committee organized by civilians, and begun
to register political parties. 237 different political parties
including the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Mrs.Suu Kyi
In addition to that, SLORC announced that they are going to establish
the National Convention to make a new permanent constitution and
appealed that representatives from all races should participate it.
Up to that time, democratization and open market system were carried
out strictly by SLORC.
However, the SLORC government made two problems which caused big
troubles later. One was the house-arrest of Mrs Suu Kyi in July 189.
Since then, she had to stay in her house for 6 years. This fact
ignite the fire of movements of western countries to assist her
Another problem was the General Election. In this election, NLD led
by Mrs. Suu Kyi got 392 seats out from 485 seats and won the election
overwhelmingly. After SLORC looked this result, they gave up the idea
of immediate transfer the power to civil government. Instead of that,
they gave "Establishment of National Convention to make a new
constitution" priority and announced that they will transfer the power
to the new government established by the General Election which will
be held under the new constitution. This made not only NLD but also
all democratic groups in the world got angry.
Regarding to this series of movements, all overseas journalism
including Japan kept reporting criticism on legitimacy of SLORC with
the view point of protection of democratization movements. However,
since they were supporting Mrs. Suu Kyi so enthusiastically, there
were many wrong informations.
First of all, about the election in 1990. Most of all Japanese
journalisms reported that as if it was the election of SLORC vs
democratization groups, but it is wrong. As a matter of fact, SLORC
did not concern in this election at all, and maintained neutrality.
(Otherwise, NLD had no chance to win the election). In this election,
the real rival of NLD was NUP (National Unitity Party). NUP was a
political party led by Mr. New Win who fell from the power by coup
dletat of SLORC. Their slogan was the "Burma Type Socialism".
In other words, in the election of 190, the most of the people voted
to NLD, because they were sick and tired with this "Bruma Type
Socialism". Now, I would like to emphasize here that the military
government was neither denied nor affirmed by the people at that time.
Actually we have many testimonies that there were no facts of
assistance or support to NUP by SLORC in the election.
Secondly, so far as I know, SLORC never said that they will transfer
the power "immediately" after the election. But the most of Japanese
mass-medias reported that because SLORC was defeated in the election,
so they changed their policy and postponed the time to transfer the
power. It is wrong too.
Actually , in May 190, before the election was held, SLORC had
stated clearly the process of transference of the power after the
election. They said after the election, they hold the National
Convention for new constitution. Then after established a new
constitution, a new government will be made by the General Election
under the new constitution, then they transfer the power to the new
government. In other words, it was already clearified that whether
thw result of election was, the time to transfer the power is after
the estiblishment of new constitution.
Is military government devillish ?
However, it was true that even they held a general election, they did
not define how to connect the result of election to the national
administration. At the election in '90, that was the most indistinct
point. While the SLORC promised to abandon "Burma type socialism",
open market, abandon one-party dictatorship system, induce
parliamentary system with multi-political parties, establishment of
new constitution, etc., they did not show clearly in what process and
how to join "Election" and "New constitution" together.
Their message of "We hold an election. But we do not transfer the
power until new constitution is established. And there are no
relations between the result of election and National Convention to
establish new constitution." is showing obvious confusion. In
addition to that, the National Convention was convoked in '93, which
was 3 years after the General Election. No wonder NLD and
democratization groups of western countries got angry with it. Then,
why such confusion happened ?
The answer for that question is the internal struggles for power in
SLORC. Since they took the power by the coup d'etat in '88, General
Saw Maung had been the position of the Chairman of SLORC. He insisted
the permanent military rule strongly. Against it, the present
Chairman Than Shwe and especially the Secretary One Khin Nyunt and
other young leaders have been taking a broad view of things and
showing attitude to work actively for democratization of Myanmar.
They were setting up a clear distinction from the hard policy of
General Saw Maung.
This internal struggle settled by the resignation of General Saw Maung
on April 23, '92. At that time nobody paid too much interest on his
resignation. It was said that the General resigned because his health
condition, but later we found out it was a practical internal coup
The Chairman Than Shwe and Secretary One Khin Nyunt who removed
General Saw Maung and other tough elements in SLORC from their posts,
announced soft policy in next day. They enforced new liberalization
policies in rapid succession, which General Saw Maung had been
refusing. They were lifting the martial law and curfew, started to
negotiate with Karen rebel army, mass-release of political prisoners,
reopening of universities and others.
Also, they started negotiation with Bangladesh government about
Mauslim refugees which developed to a human right problem.
Furthermore, they arrested the notorious "Narcotic King" Khun Sa, and
now they are working on abolition of narcotic production actively with
the cooperation of UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP).
In other words, from '88 to '92, confrontation in SLORC on problems of
power transference, democratization, human rights and others became
furious and finally the liberal group won it. The reason why the
confused message from SLORC was this internal confrontation.
After 192, SLORC led by Than Shwe - Khin Nyunt line started to move
for establishment of new constituion. It's process is quite open and
frank. We can understand it well.
First of all, on the premise that the new constitution should be
decided by representatives from whole nation and all races at the
preparatory conference in June '92. And they elected 746 members.
Naturally, 130 members from NLD are including among them.
Also, from the view point of all races in the country, they negotiated
with 135 different minor races. Especially, they carried on the peace
negotiations with 16 different minor race armed groups actively. In
August '95, they concluded the peace negotiation with the Mon
Liberation Front. At present, only negotiation with the Karen
National Union is left over.
I believe we should highly evaluate their efforts to the
democratization relating to the movements for establishment of new
constitution. Nobody can blame the present government which urge 135
minor races groups to send their representatives to the National
Convention and working to construct stronger foundation of democracy.
In Myanmar (Burma), they had democratic parliamentary system
once before. It was for 14 years from the right after the
independence till the military government led by Mr. Ne Win took the
power by coup dletat. The result of the system was miserable.
Because the government never stabilized. Each political parties
united together or splited each others constantly and repeatedly.
They could not get unification at all. The reason was that they did
not make any efforts to integrate various racial groups under the
state system. As the result, each racial groups claimed only their
own interests and profits and the parliament system could not
establish the centripetal force of the state.
How to connect these 135 groups of minor races to the centripetal
force of the state. That is still most important subject of their
domestic affairs. Without solving this subject and induce the name
only democracy, then there are a great possibility that the country
may split in pieces again.
The National Convention under Than Shwe - Khin Nyunt line learned this
bad experience in past, and held the doctrine of "New constitution
should be decided by representatives from the all people and races."
The aim of SLORC is that at first settle down the racial problems,
raise the centripetal force of the state and declare the system of the
new state by the new constitution, then induce the democracy to the
country. We should highly evaluate this efforts of the present SLORC
government for democratization because it will strike root of
democracy deep into the soil of Myanmar.
At present, there are many countries enjoying the democracy in the
world. But before theyinduced democracy to their countries, they made
their best efforts to strengthen the rule of state by many different
means and measures, such as revolution, riot, war, purge, liquidation
and so on. Now, SLORC is carrying on peacefully the amicable
settlement with all races and urge them to attend the National
Convention. This is quite reasonable way and I can say that only
organization which has the ability to accomplish this is SLORC.
If you say that you still don't like military government or
democratization led by dictatorship government, I wish to advice you
to read modern history of China, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thai
and other countries. Hjw about our own country Japan, which
successfully democratized by forced of order for the premise of
strengthen the rule of the state. I can-not agree to accept
uncritically the name-only "Democracy" which extracted from the
historical view point of western countries and compel it to others
without the knowledge of state of affairs in that country.
Unreasonal and not understandable activities of NLD.
As I mentioned before, SLORC made two mistakes. They were the
house-arrest of Mrs. Suu Kyi and problem of election. The former
problem was settle down by release of Mrs. Suu Kyi in July 1995.
Also after they release her, they are still prohibiting gatherings of
NLD members and sympathizers and arrest some NLD members sporadically.
We can not understand it. They show no considerations to the
international society. So far as they keep doing such things, SLORC
will be isolated from the international society. Concerning about
this matter, I have no intention to defend or protect the SLORC
On the other hand, it is true that there are a lot of things,which I
am disappointed in speechs and behaviours of Mrs. Suu Kyi after her
Wth the view point of the result of election in 1990 was valid, she
demanded immediate transfer of the power to NLD. And also she
demanded suspension of investments and ODA to Myanmar, together with
the economic sanction to Myanmar too. In other words, she wish to say
"Do not give any support or aid which may lengthen the life span of
In addition to that, she withdrew all participants of NLD from the
National Convention for establishment of New Constitution and
announced the boycott of the Convention. The reason was "lt does not
guarantee the right of free discussions in the convention"
But, 3 chapters out of total 15 chapters of the constitution had been
deliberated and discussed in the Convention by representatives from
NLD. Meanwhile, there were no facts that the free discussions were
restrained. This means it was the one-sided boycott of the Convention
by NLD. It is nothing but a definite abandonment of their right.
There are no will of cooperation or compromise at all.
In past, there were a case which antigovernment group appealed
economic sanction to foreign countries successful results. That was
the Negro group in South Africa. In order to fight against the
suppression of human rights by the government, which had the policy
so-called "Apartheid", the group used oppression from foreign
countries. But, the situation of Myanmar is completely different from
The government of South Africa refused any participation of Negros to
politics. But in case of Myanmar, SLORC government appealed the
participation of NLD to the National Convention for the New
Constitution, and actually discussed the matter with NLD at the
Convention for nearly 3 years. In spite of that, Mrs. Suu Kyi
boycotted the National Convention and abandoned their right to
participate in policy making. Also, through a mediator she had
dialgoues with SLORC side twice in 1994, but in 1995
she announced a statement one-side and said that she will not make any
negotiation with SLORC anymore and closed the way to further dialogue
There are many other strange activities of recent NLD. One is they do
not submit application for permission to hold gatherings, which needs
permission from the government by law. They do not apply it
intentionally. By the way, up to this time every NLD gatherings that
they submitted for permission were all permited by the government and
there is no case that the military forces ever intervene. Professor
Yozo Yokota of Tokyo University reported this fact. He is visiting
Myanmar every year as a special rapporteur of UN Human Rights
Another thing is, NLD often register persons who are under detention
with some other reasons as NLD members. The purpose of these cases
are nothing but propaganda to foreign countries as evidences of
"Oppression to democratization group" It seems to me that she does not
care any other things but just working on to boost the voltage of
oppression to SLORC from the overseas.
In the field of economy too, there are many behaviors which we do
not understand of her. The previous centrally planned economic policy
changed to market oriented economy by SLORC in 1992 brought a good
result and present Myanmar economy is growing up smoothly.
Especially, during the 4 year economic plan announced in 1992 by Than
Shwe - Khin Nyunt, the average annual growth rate reached to 8.2%
which is the highest rate they ever had. Number of foreign
investments to Myanmar from 1988 to 1992 was only 37 cases but at
present it increased to 181. Myanmar economy is now growing up
But the opinion of Mrs. Suu Kyi is still "Refuse the foreign
investment. Refuse economic aid." Is really Mrs. Suu Kyi wish
democratization for the people of Myanmar ? Or just democratization
for "democratization" ? I cannot understand her at all.
Conditions for the resumption of Japanese ODA.
Because Japan concerned deeply with the independence of Burma
we have been maintaining friendly relations for long time with Myanmar
after the war too. At the zenith, 70% of total aid to Myanmar was
Japanese ODA. With this figure, we can understand how closely both
countries have been associating together.
By the coup detat in '88, Japanese government frozen ODA to
Myanmar completely. In '89, when SLORC government was acknowledged
internationaly, Japan resumed ODA, but because of house-detention of
Mrs. Suu Kyi, Japanese government again suspended new aid except
humanitarian aid and emergency cases. At present, with the view point
of humanitarian aid, we are giving technical aid for the preservation
of forest, grant aid for nursing school, aid for the increase of food
production and accepting trainees.
The conditions to resume ODA was ready when Mrs. Suu Kyi was released
in 1995. As a matter of fact, Japanese government made a great
mistake. Japanese government informed SLORC that ODA will be resumed
if Mrs. Suu Kyi is released. But as I have said before, Mrs. Suu Kyi
announced the negative opinion on the resumption of ODA and so the
Japanese government recoiled from the promise with SLORC. This kind
of action may break the relation of trust and confidence between
government to government. By giving this experience as a good example,
Japanese government should decide ODA policy with fearless attitude in
Recently, some people,started to suggest resumption of ODA to Myanmar,
since Myanmar became a member of ASEAN.
As I mentioned before, SLORC's process of democratization includes
careful consideration on political situation of Myanmar and for that
it should be evaluated highly. Actually, the process is completely
different from what Mrs Suu Kyi and the group claimed, "the name only
democracy". Regarding to the political concern of military forces
provided in the draft of the new constitution, NLD should discuss the
matter if they do not agree with it. Also, when the country is
politically and economically stabilized then they may amend the
constitution to reduce the power of the military forces in politics.
South Korea and Thailand are not the only countries but also there
are many countries where military forces are involved in politics
during the transitional period for democratization. Naturally, when
the country became stable, the engagement of military forces is not
necessary anymore, and they should not interfere in the politics. As
I have said, the purpose of SLORC government is strengthening the
centripetal force of the country and settle the unstable factors
namely racial problems. So in this transitional period, I can say the
power of the military forces is necessary and essential.
The only problem is the time when the framing of the constitution will
be completed. It is not pointed out specifically by SLORC yet. This
fact raise distrust and giving bad impression to the SLORC government.
In the National Convention,it is said that 5 chapters out of 15
chapters of the Constitution was successfully laid down but still
nobody knows when all the chapters will be completed.
I do not know when it was started but recently, Japan treats coldly to
friendly countries or countries under obligation and on the contrary,
flatters to the countries having hostile feelings to Japan. Japan
trumpled the debt of gratitude of Chiang Kai Shek and left the
friendly Taiwan in lurch. At the same-time, flattering and giving a
large scaled aid to China which always insult and throw cold water to
Japan. Now, Japan is trying to abandon Myanmar,the most friendly
country in the world. Don't you ?
Of course, it is necessary that we must always make efforts to build
up good relationship with the hostile countries or countries that do
not get along well, but on the other hand it is natural to treat
friendly countries nicely. The one who neglect goodwill of others may
not get favour from anyone.
Naturally, the ostensible and contradict democratization done by Saw
Maung government should be blamed. But comparing Mrs Suu Kyi who threw
away the right of participation to the State politics by herself and
became just like a fretful child with the movement plan of the present
SLORC government, especially the Secretary One Khin Nyunt`s plan, the
latter is far more reasonable and is walking on the road together with
democratization and the open market economy for Myanmar. Therefore,
Japanese government must be aware that helping their efforts means
giving a great assistance for democratization of Myanmar. I hope from
now on Japan should carry on the diplomacy to Myanmar in a dignified