[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Political Situation of Myanmar

Subject: Political  Situation  of  Myanmar  and  Its  Role in the Region

(Part I )
To: burmanet-l@xxxxxxxxxxx
X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Pro Version 3.0.2 (32)
X-Sender: strider@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

		Political  Situation  of  Myanmar  and  Its  Role in the Region (Part I )

	1.	Geographical Location
	2.	People And Religion
	3.	Pre-Independence Days
	4.	Insurgency After Post-Independence Days
	5.	Narcotic Drug Problem
	6.	War Against Narcotic Drugs.
	7.	Accusing Myanmar Of Not Being Serious In The Fight Against Narcotic Drugs
	8.	Myanmar's Foreign Policy
	9.	Myanmar's Strict Neutrality
	10.	Development During The Period The Military Government Assumed State
	11.	Practising Universal Rules In The Protection Of National Security And
	12.	Drafting Of A New Constitution
	13.	Human Rights Issue And Democracy
	14.	Basic Universal Human Rights In Myanmar
	15.	Myanmar The Weak Link In The Regional China  Containment Policy
	16.	A Setback For The Region To Become An Economic Power 
	17.	Myanmar In Evolution
	18.	Why The Change From SLORC To SPDC

1. Geographical Location
	Myanmar is located in the South East Asia region bordering the People's
Republic of China on the North and North East, Laos on the East, Thailand on
the South East, Bangladesh on the West and India on the North West. It is also
strategically located between South Asia and South East Asia with the People's
Republic of China on her North and North East. More interestingly she is
sandwiched   between the two most populous nations in the World-- China and
India. She also has as a neighbour Bangladesh which is 5  times smaller in
size and  3  times larger in population and on top of it, Bangladesh is not
blessed with abundant natural resources as Myanmar and  unfortunately
encounters  many of the natural disasters in the region every  year. 

2. People And Religion
Myanmar comprises eight major national ethnic races with some 135 ethnic
minorities. The major national races are Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, Chin, Mon,
Bamar, Rakhine and Shan. The Bamar are the largest national race constituting
70% of the whole population. In the religious sector 80% of the population
practises the Buddhist faith while Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and
Animism are 
also practised.
3. Pre-Independence Days
At the very outset of regaining her independence, Myanmar was misled into
differences in attitudes and  outlooks paving the way for insurrection by the
divide-and-rule policy by which the British Colonialist has successfully
implemented in Myanmar for over 100 years and a variety of conflicting
thoughts and ideas had caused to disintegrate the unity and solidarity of the
nation just prior to independence. Myanmar's national hero General Aung San
and his ministers were assassinated in July 1947 through the complicity of the
colonialist government. It was the most damaging act in the history of
Myanmar. It left the country almost leaderless after  regaining  her
independence from Britain in January 1948. The British also forcefully
introduced the production of opium in the northern Myanmar states in 19th
Century with a purpose of increasing the opium trade with China. Myanmar
inherited these problems which remained an  entrenched and a current issue. 
4. Insurgency After Post-Independence Days
After regaining independence from Britain in 1948 a   civilian government
(Parliamentary Democracy Government) ruled the country. Because of internal
party conflicts and clashes with the then 2 other opposition parties the
government in power gave priority to its party affairs only and means and ways
to get re-elected in the coming election. It neglected the requirements and
needs of the ethnic races while going to  extremes, to cite one example,
proclaimed Buddhism a State Religion in Myanmar. Myanmar has 80% of her
population practising Buddhist faith by which the then prime minister was
canvassing for his party  votes in the coming election. Unfortunately, his
move created rebellion among the ethnic races professing other religious
faiths and automatically led to armed insurrection in the country. Although,
it was clear from the very beginning that the then government was wrong  in
their steps in the first place the military had no voice nor choice but to
follow orders in fighting against  all  the insurgent groups the government
had created for lasting 45 years.
5. Narcotic Drug Problem
During the peak of its insurgency in 1949, over 75% of the entire country was
in the hands of various armed insurgent groups. Half  of  Mandalay  and the
outskirts of  Yangon  were  also  under  the  control  of  the  insurgents
and Myanmar  was  at  that  time  mockingly nicknamed  the  Rangoon
Government  by  the  Western  World  refusing to sell the  government  badly
needed  arms  and  ammunition  to  repel  the  insurgent  groups.  The
Myanmar  Armed  Forces  together  with  the  people  of  the  country  fought
and  pushed  back  the  armed  groups  and  eventually  gained  the
upperhand.  Unfortunately,  during  this  time  in 1950  an outside  intrusion
started  to  take  place in  the  North  East  and  Eastern  borders  of
Myanmar. The  Kuomintang (KMT)  troops  which  were  being  forced  out  of
Southern  Yunnan  Province  of  China  by  the  People's  Liberation  Army  of
P.R.C. took  refuge  and  established  base  camps  on  Myanmar  territory.
These  activities  were  encouraged,  supported  and  financed  by  a  western
power  with  the  aim  of  blocking  further  communist  expansion  in  Asia.
After  the  Second  World  War,  the  C.I.A.  not  only  encouraged  the
production  of  opium  in  this region  to  help  finance  it,  and  its  KMT
allies'  activities  but  also  to  finance  considerable  arms  supplies  to
the  KMT  and  the  various  ethnic  groups  in  Myanmar.  During  this
period  two  US  ambassadors  to  Myanmar,  William  J.  Sebald  and  David
Mc Key  resigned   in  protest  because  they  were  not  kept  informed of
their  government's  activities  in  this  drug  producing  area. There  is
no  doubt  that  these  activities  sowed  the  seeds  of  the  current  drug
production  problems  in  the  North  and  the  North-Eastern  Myanmar.  The
KMT  although  officially  were  flown  out  of  Myanmar  under  the  U.N.
supervision  in  the  early  60' s,  still  remnants  of  the  2  divisions
of  KMT  were  still  active  on  Myanmar's  North  East  and Eastern  borders
until  the  time  of  the  drug  warlord Khun  Sa's  surrender  about  2
years  ago  in  1996.  It  is  also interesting  to  know  that  the KMT
encouraged  not  only  growing  of  opium  in  the  golden  triangle  area  as
well  as  on  the  Myanmar-Yunnan  border  but  were  responsible  for  the
refining  of  opium  into  heroin  and  creating  heroin markets  in  the
6. War  Against  Narcotic  Drugs
Myanmar  has  since  1974  co-operated  with  the  U.S.  Government  in  the
anti-narcotic  operations  being  highly  commended  for  her  efforts by that
Government.  The  U.S. Government  has  assisted  Myanmar  with  $  68
million  for  the  period of   14  years  starting  from  1974  to  1988
mainly  in  training  Myanmar  officials  and  for  the  spare  parts  and
equipment  used  in  the  drug  eradication  operations. During  this  period
Myanmar  suffered  92  law  enforcement  officials  killed  in  action  while
512  were  seriously  wounded. A  pilot  and  an  aircraft  were  lost  during
the  aerial  spraying  operation.  It has also been learnt  from  the  U.S.
Drug  Enforcement  Agency  that  Myanmar's  efforts  managed to  stop  $19
billion  worth  of  heroin  from  reaching  the streets of the  Western
countries,  mainly  the  United  States.  Although  the  U.S.  cut  off  its
assistance  since  1988,  Myanmar  has  without  any  substantial   outside
assistance  managed  from  1988  up  to  this  day  in  preventing  $ 45
billion  worth  of  heroin  from  reaching  the  U.S.  streets.  At  the  same
time  Myanmar  law  enforcement  officials  managed  to  break  the  notorious
drug  army  of  Khun  Sa  in  the  Golden  Triangle  area  and  had  him
surrender  unconditionally. Myanmar  suffered  766  law  enforcement
officials  killed  in action  while  2300  were  seriously  wounded  and a lot
of materials were sacrificed as well.   In  this  fight  against  narcotic
drugs  the  U.S. and  the  Western  World  not only  refused  to  recognize
and encourge  Myanmar's  efforts  but  they  were  also  putting  obstacles
in  her  fight  against  narcotic  armies  by  imposing an arms  embargo.  The
drug  armies  were  given  the  privilege of using sophisticated weapons to
fight  against  the  government  troops  being inflicted heavy casualities
while the  government  troops  were  using  weapons  of  inferior  quality.
In  other  words  the  U.S. and  its  western  allies  were not  only
refusing  to  assist  Myanmar  in  her  fight  against  drugs  but  also
making her   physically incapable and  impossible  to  do  so  by  their
imposition of an arms embargo on Myanmar.
7. 	Accusing  Myanmar  Of  Not Being  Serious  In  The  Fight  Against
Narcotic  		Drugs
In  spite  of  all  the  natural  obstacles  and  man-made  difficulties
imposed  by  the  western  nations,  Myanmar  managed single-handedly to break
the  army  of  the  drug  warlord  Khun  Sa  with  her  own  limited
resources.  It  was  achieved  by  sacrificing  a  lot  of  blood,  sweat  and
tears on the part of her Myanmar Defence Forces and her Myanmar law
enforcement  officials  and  was  tremendously commended  by  the  rest  of
the  world  for  her  success  and  efforts. Even after  Myanmar's  success
in  bringing  Khun  Sa  into  unconditional  surrender  resulting  in
disbanding  Khun  Sa's  Mong  Tai  Army  and  having  Khun  Sa  himself  under
the  government's  custody  or  supervision, the  Western  World  especially
the  U.S.  and  U.K.  have continued in accusing  Myanmar  of  not  being
serious  in  the  fight  against  narcotic  drugs  and  for  not  extraditing
Khun  Sa  to  the  United  States  and  also  for  not  prosecuting  Khun  Sa
and  other  ethnic  leaders. It  is  quite  interesting  to  compare  the
methods  implemented  by  U.S.  and  Myanmar  on  handling  such  issues.  The
U.S.  prosecuted  Noriega  and  Escobal  as  a  great  public  relation
showcase  for  the  American  Government.  But  the  essence  is  to   raise a
query  whether " Did  it  stop  or  reduce  the  flow  of  drugs  coming  to
the  U.S.  from  those  countries?"  The answer is,  of  course,  no.  The
method  Myanmar utilized  against  Khun  Sa  was,  after  his  unconditional
surrender,  to  disband  his  army  and  then  to   have Khun  Sa  and  his
top  aides   under  government  control and  supervision.  His  troops  were
sent  back  to  their  respective   villages  to  live  and  work  there  as
normal  citizens  while  the  leaders  were  also  given  financial  and
other  necessary  assistance  to  start  a  new  life  doing  legitimate
businesses.  The  leaders  may  have  their  assets  abroad  but  since   no
country  has  come  up  with  such  kind  of  information  Myanmar Government
has no choice but to take  the responsibility  of  providing  them  with  a
new  and  legitimate  life-style  so  that  they  can  be  absorbed  into  the
mainstream.  So  far  this  method  has  proven  to  be  realistic  in
solving  the  problem  although  it  may  not  be  a  P.R.  good move.
Moreover,  according  to our  on-ground  calculations  we  have  noticed  a
significant  decline  in  the  production  of  opium  although  the  western
nations have  reported   things  differently.  
	However, Myanmar sincerely  wishes for the countries that are seriously
affected  and inflicted by this  narcotic drug-menace not only  to  stop
fingerpointing and scapegoating others but also to seriously find more
realistic and practical methods  to  tackle  this  problem. Pressuring others
to accept and carry out methods which have undeniably failed in the past will
definitely not help in our fight against narcotic drugs. Constantly putting
the blame solely on a small developing nation already victimized by the past
colonial and superpower overwhelming actions will also bear no fruit in
fighting against the menace of narcotic drugs. On top of it, in Myanmar's case
the U.S. Government's unreasonable refusal to recognize the anti-narcotic
activities and efforts of the drug-producing countries and at the same time
not doing and also caring enough to stop or at least curb the consumer or
demand-side are also excruciatingly unrealistic and foolhardy.
8. Myanmar's  Foreign  Policy
Since  Myanmar  regained  her  independence  from  the  British  in  1948  she
chose  to  pursue  an  active  and  independent  foreign  policy  from  the
very  beginning.  She   left  the  British  Commonwealth  and  adopted  a
neutral  and  later  a  non-aligned  policy  throughout  the  Cold  War
In  pursuance  of  such  a  policy  there  are  some  pluses  she  has  been
accorded  mainly  enabling  her  to  stay  out  of  the  regional  conflicts.
The  minuses  are  that she  has  neither  developed  capitalist  nor
communist  alliances.
When  Myanmar  became  a  socialist  country  after  the  end  of  its
parliamentary  era  the  Western  World  regarded  her  as  a  pro-communist
state  while  the  Socialist  World  upheld  her  as  a  sort  of  a  namesake
socialist  country.
During  this  period  Myanmar  has  more  or  less  stayed  away  from  the
regional  and  international  crisis  with  doors  partly  closed  eventually
leading  her  to  self-imposed seclusion  in  pursuit  of  her  own  ideals.
9. Myanmar's  Strict  Neutrality
Since  her  regaining  independence  Myanmar  has  proven  to  countries  near
and  far  that  she  is  everybody's  friend  but  nobody's  ally. Myanmar
which  is  one  of  the  founding  members  of  the  Non-Aligned  Movement
(NAM)  left  the  organization   in  1979  considering  that  the movement
strayed  from  its  original  course.  She  later  rejoined  the  movement  in
1992  realizing  that  the  stance   of  the  organization  was  in
accordance  with  her  objectives of  strict  neutrality  and  non-alignment.
The  strict  neutrality which  she  has  displayed in the region during  the
difficult  times  has  been  appreciated  and  she  has  now  gained  trust
and  confidence  in  the  neighbourhood  as  well  as  in  the  region.  In
spite  of  the  end  of  the  Cold  War,  Myanmar  is  still  faithfully
pursuing  her  policy  of  being  everyone's  friend  but  still  no  one's
ally.  Unfortunately,  her  natural  and  inborn  policy  has  not  been
accepted  today  on  account   of  the  imposition  of  the  will of  a
solitary  existence of  a super  power.  Today's concept  virtually  imposed
on  Myanmar is either she has to become  an  ally or an opponent.
10. Development  During  The  Period  The Military Government  Assumed  State
Today  after  the  Military  Government ( state law &  Order Restoration
Council - SLORC)  has  assumed  the  state  responsibilities  in  September
1988  the  Government  has  managed  to  bring  17.5  of  the  18  armed
insurgent   groups  into  the  legal  fold  and  also  has  achieved  success
in  bringing  the  drug  warlord  Khun  Sa  to  surrender unconditionally.
This  is  an astounding major  achievement for  Myanmar  since  it  is  the
first  time  in  her  modern  history  she  has  managed  to  establish
national  unity,  peace  and  stability.
Even  though  Myanmar  is  very  rich  in  natural  resources,  due  to the
lack  of  peace  and  stability  compared  to  other  ASEAN  countries,
Myanmar  has  lagged  behind  in  development.  During  the  crisis  in  1988
over  65%  of  the   industry  in  Yangon (Capital  City)  was  destroyed  and
looted  while  118    policemen  were  injured,  35  policemen    killed  and
15  police  stations  were  overrun  by  the unruly mob.  Simultaneously, 52
innocent civilians were  tried by  kangaroo courts and beheaded by the unruly
mob while an infantry platoon guarding a ministry building was also overrun by
the unruly mob.  On top of  it,  the  weapons,  ammunition  and  explosives
from  the  police  stations  and  the  infantry  platoon  were  taken  away
by  the disorderly  mob  while  the  insurgents  also  managed  to  bring
explosives  and  weapons  into  the  cities  as  well.  In  the  meantime
anarchism  was  rampant  in  the  country.  the  Burmese  Communist
insurgents  were  attacking  the Government  troops  in  the  North  East  and
Eastern borders  while  the  Kayin  insurgents the  South  Eastern  borders. 
During this chaotic period the Armed Forces of  Myanmar had no choice but to
use whatever means available in restoring Law and Order in the nation while
repelling the attacking   insurgent groups. In fact, the Armed Forces of
Myanmar    managed to save the country from disintegrating and from  becoming
a war zone. But unfortunately the international media  and the western world
portrayed a different picture of the Myanmar Armed Forces depiciting it as a
ruthless  trigger- happy bunch of thugs shooting and killing civilians and
repressing democratic activities. Their so-called heroes of democracy  were
at that time not only helpless but  they  stayed away from the path and scene
of rampage.
The military government, the then State Law and Order Restoration Council
after assuming the state responsibilities discarded the One-Party Socialist
System and the Socialist Economy to pursue a Multi-Party Democratic System
with a  Market-Oriented Economy. In the transition period Market-Oriented
Economy was introduced and implemented in the economic sector while on  the
political sector priority was given to an emergence of a new Constitution
which will be compatible with the Multi-Party democratic system and which will
also ensure peace and stability among the national races in the country. With
this in mind the 1990 election was held with the sole objective of  electing
the  representatives to draft a new constitution. Unfortunately, after  the
election the party winning the majority of the seats, instead of meeting its
obligations changed her tune and demanded for the immediate transfer of power.
Logically, the country at that time had no constitution in place thereby the
military as a transitional and a caretaker  government ran the country by
imposing a martial law. But for a political party to run the country imposing
a martial law would not only be inappropriate and even the very basic
questions posed by people from all walks of life went unanswered. These were;
(a) How would the National League for Democracy (NLD) party form a government?
(b) For how many years will the NLD run the country as a government in the
interim period? These are very simple basic questions which the NLD never had
any preparedness for an answer but still went on demanding for handing over of
state power overnight. Myanmar  at  that  time had most of the armed groups
which have now returned to the legal fold were active as  insurgent groups and
the situation was very fluid and tense.
11. Practising Universal Rules In The Protection Of National Security And
More specifically and importantly what most people do not realize is that in
many instances Ms. Suu Kyi is erroneously being referred as an elected person
or in some instances as an  elected president. Ms. Suu Kyi never stood for the
election because she was not eligible to contest for  a  seat in the country's
elections. It was not this present military government or the previous
socialist government that refused Ms. Suu Kyi the right to stand for elections
but ironically it was her own father, Myanmar national hero General Aung San,
who wrote into the original constitution, subsequently promulgated in 1948, a
clause which defines that "any person who is under any acknowledgement of
allegiance or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or citizen  is
entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign
power." Thus she is not entitled the eligibility to contest for  a  seat in
the country's elections. Ms. Suu Kyi resided abroad for twenty - eight years
and married an Englishman (Giving her the rights to U.K. citizenship) and has
2 children both holding British citizenships. This present military government
has as all the previous successive Myanmar Governments to continue in
honouring this clause and the present national convention has also committed
itself to continue in honouring the said clause. This  type of constitutional
condition is implemented by many  governments including those of developed
nations. It is quite understandable that the Governments do not wish to have
someone in office who could be unduly influenced by any other nation or power.
As a preventive measure certain rules and regulations to serve as a mechanism
in protecting the national security as well as the national interest of
respective countries are universally practised.
Again, in a similar scenario the NLD party is constantly and erroneously
referred to as an opposition party. In fact, the Government of Myanmar does
not regard the NLD or any other 9 legally existing political parties as
opposition  parties since the Government regards itself not as a political
party but as a transitional government (A