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Political Situation of Myanmar a

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

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

National Institution) taking the responsibility of discarding the Socialist
One- Party  System  practising a  Socialist Economy   paving the way for a
Multi-Party Democracy introducing a Market-Oriented Economy. In the meantime,
for the benefit and interest of the nation, this present government is in the
process of establishing and founding national unity, peace, stability and all-
round  development in the country so that Myanmar shall become in a reasonable
period of time a peaceful, prosperous and modern developed nation.
12. Drafting Of A New Constitution
Myanmar had 2 different types of constitution since she regained her
independence from the British. The first  independence constitution was
drafted in 1947 by General Aung San in a hasty manner because the British
demanded that Myanmar produce a constitution as quickly as possible or they
would not grant independence. The drafting of the  independence constitution
was more or less drafted to the  desire of the British Colonialists so that
serious flaws were  imbedded in the constitution. Nevertheless, what General
Aung San had in mind was to amend the constitution in conformity to Myanmar's
requirements after regaining independence from the British. Unfortunately, it
never took 
place because according to the recent release of sensitive documents to the
British media, the pre-independence assassination of General Aung San and his
Cabinet ministers and the Kayin insurgency that began around 1947-48 were
stage-managed by the Britain-based "Friends of Burma Hill People" with
definite links to the Colonial Conservative Government of Britain. Later on
after regaining independence Myanmar suffered the consequences of insurgencies
and on top of it, she faced secession by some of her national races after 10
years of independence which was one of the major flaws in that constitution.
In 1962 after  General Ne Win took over the State Power the first and
original 1947 constitution was abolished and in 1974 a new one-party socialist
constitution came into existence. But again in 1988 the second constitution of
1974 was abolished for the multi- party democratic system.
Previously in drafting the two constitutions the system was based on majority
of the votes. But in Myanmar where 70% of the population is Bamar, the
military regarding the old voting system as not being fair and democratic has
changed the system of voting into consensus. This consensus method  the
military believes that although the ethnic races may be small in number they
should have a big voice in the parliament where the old voting method never
gave the ethnic races any chance to get their voice heard or their desires
appreciated finally creating frustration and anger. This eventually had led to
armed insurgency and  the military being an institution which is a neutral
body in the country which comprises all the national races is regarded as a
U.N. organization in one's own country. The military is not interested in
party politics but when it comes to national affairs the military has the
obligation to fulfil her commitments and that is what she is at the moment
fulfilling. The big political parties, of course, do not like the method or
system the military is taking so that they are inhibited in playing their
party politics the way they want without giving any consideration to the
stability of the entire nation. Myanmar after independence during the
parliamentary democracy  era had 2 to 3 political parties which concentrated
their efforts too much only on party politicking by which they eventually
created armed insurrection all over the country which the military government
inherited today. The military did not create any one of them but took  the
responsibility  and     initiative of bringing them into the legal fold and
making them give up their armed insurrection. In 1990, before the military
government held election in the country there were a total of 237 political
parties from which 91 parties contested in the election and still 10 parties
legally exist and are involved in the drafting of the new national
constitution. The country has roughly gone through bad times because of the
way the political parties acted  in the past and also due to the weakness
embedded in the former constitutions. Today, to keep the country perpetually
stable and to have a functioning democracy Myanmar has to have a strong and
everlasting constitution which will keep the country on the proper track. The
present military transitional government is meeting her commitments while
hoping and expecting the political   parties especially the NLD meet theirs so
that Myanmar will become a functioning democracy within a reasonable time
13. Human Rights Issues And Democracy
This is a controversial issue which creates a lot of misunderstanding among
nations. Whatever human rights mean to various nations with different
economic, social,historical, cultural and traditional values, human rights for
a third world country like Myanmar mean the rights to enjoy the basic  human
requirements such as (a) Security (b) Food (c) Shelter. Myanmar is at the
moment trying to fulfil these basic essential requirements and after meeting
the requirements will move on to another set of necessities such as health and
education followed by economic development. In fact she is now in the process
of promoting health, education and economy. Myanmar can even challenge the
U.S. in the Government's commitment and  obligation in fulfilling the basic
human rights in their own respective countries. (A) In the United States
security can never be guaranteed in most of the U.S. cities. For example, can
its citizen enjoy security out in the streets of most cities especially after
dark? (B) There are people out in the U.S. streets who are facing starvation
and (C) Homeless people living in card-board boxes and parks freezing to death
during the winter season. 
In Myanmar today security in her cities is fully guaranteed for the people
while now peace and tranquillity prevail even in the border areas for the
first time in her modern history. Starvation is a word alien to the people of
Myanmar and Myanmar does not have homeless people who die of  being neglected
by their own Government. Myanmar today is  implementing the project called
?From Huts To Proper Houses Scheme.? All her citizens are being taken care by
the Government to have a proper home to live in. The Government of Myanmar is
also in the process of promoting her economy for the   benefit  of  her
people. Priorities are given for the promotion of economy so that a strong
middle class will emerge. The fact that only when a strong middle class
emerges a functioning democracy will prevail in the country is what the
Government of Myanmar foresees. The Western Nations' theory of democracy
first, democracy  second and democracy third has not only failed in many
developing countries but created  instability and chaos from which  for how
long  those  countries have to suffer we do not know.
In Myanmar, since the country is in the process of rebuilding a new nation,
unity, stability and the promotion of all-round development are being given
priority. The full right to practise party politics is not high up on her
agenda because the nation needs all her strength for nation-rebuilding  and
national unity at the moment. Time will come after the new constitution is
drafted, and before the elections, for  political parties to do party
politicking but not at this stage where party politicking by 10 political
parties will affect  the national unity and drain her strength away elsewhere.
Trying to force Myanmar to deviate from her original path and pressuring her
to accept the interests of foreign governments under the pretext of democracy
and human rights is very much detrimental to the national interests of  the
Myanmar people. Imposing sanctions and other pressures on her indicates the
West's  real intention which is, " hypocrisy but not democracy and might is
right but not human right". 
Myanmar must and will start to build up her democratic institution with a
solid foundation first and from there on it will expand and develop into a
much higher level. No country in the world can expect to achieve a functioning
democracy in a reverse way. It is like expecting or forcing a child to run
first before learning how to walk properly. It is interesting to know how the
so-called democracies arrived at the stage where they are today and what
stages they had to go through to   become what they are at present. It will be
more interesting to know how long it took for them to become what they are
14. Basic Universal Human Rights In Myanmar
More importantly for a country like Myanmar which has recently achieved
national reconciliation with its different national races fighting against all
the previous successive  governments, the Myanmar Government has as most
developing countries in the East been prioritzing community rights at this
stage of her development rather than giving  priority to individual rights
like the developed countries at present  going through. One of Myanmar's top
priorities in her basic human rights is to provide her citizens with
security. Myanmar believes that her citizens must enjoy the essential basic
rights such as security and safety of their lives and properties, a decent job
which will help put enough food on the table for their families and also a
decent place for them to live in.
The Myanmar Government and her people do admire the rights the American
citizens enjoy and one day when her  basic requirements are fulfilled Myanmar
might emulate some of the rights the American people are enjoying. But at this
moment the Myanmar Government as well as the people of Myanmar are quietly
concerned that in the United States the basic universal human rights such as
security and protection of citizens, properties and lives have been
overshadowed and sidetracked by other individual rights. Myanmar and many
other countries in the world are shocked by the increasing violence in the
U.S. and the schoolyard shooting at Arkansas by 2 boys and the unfortunate
incident of the murder of  two police officers at the Capitol Hill which both
occurred in 1998 are a few of the shocking examples of the absence of basic
human rights in the United States, not Myanmar as has been accused by the U.S.
In reality, the overwhelming majority of the people in Myanmar as natural as
are elsewhere in the third world   countries are not obsessed with politics.
They do not see     freedom solely in terms of the right to vote periodically
and demonstrate and express political views publicly.
The demand for the freedom to exercise full political rights will come when
Myanmar reaches a more mature stage where the unity of the 135 ethnic groups
living together in the country becomes stronger and when the fundamental needs
of the population have been fulfilled to a much higher level. It is
unrealistic for other nations to force Myanmar to be on a par with them in
giving their citizens political rights when Myanmar must and should be at her
very stage of development prioritizing national unity, peace, stability and
developing her economy with an aim of creating a strong middle class.
Breaking the fragile and hard-won peace, stability and national unity by
introducing excessive political rights at this stage of her development would
deprive Myanmar of her chance to start building up her democratic institutions
with a solid foundation first and will end up becoming a non-functioning
namesake democracy.
15. Myanmar The Weak Link In The Regional China Containment Policy
In the murky world of internally competing government interest groups,
particularly in the U.S. there is a strong lobby for containing China. Now it
appears that it has emerged from its cocoon and that it is not only a major
world military power, but that it is rapidly transforming itself into a global
economic power. (If this containment lobby hypothesis is correct, how would
the U.S. and other western governments go about  realizing such a policy ?)
One approach to this problem is to influence China's immediate geographical
neighbours to take a more  pro-western stance.Therefore, from the western
point of view, Myanmar could be deemed to be the weak link in the regional
China containment policy, as primarily advocated by the U.S. Their attempt in
creating Myanmar a Client State is quite obvious in their blatant interference
in Myanmar's internal affairs and their actions against her. But if their
actions become successful Myanmar will be once again turned into a nation of
warring ethnic groups and proxy war.
16. A Setback For The Region To Become An Economic Power
An unstable Myanmar with an internal revolution will definitely not serve the
interests of the region. If Myanmar's economy collapses or the country becomes
unstable, the   entire region will suffer the consequences. Its instability in
the region could jeopardize and create a setback for the ASEAN which has
already set the aim to become an economic power in the coming century.
The vision and wisdom of the ASEAN leaders are to be highly commended for
their relentless efforts towards safeguarding the political, security and
economic interests of the region. Expanding the membership to embrace all (10)
countries of South East Asia is a very positive and farsighted decision they
have taken. Their deep understanding of the problems and above all, their
determination to solve regional matters peacefully in a collective manner have
alreadycreated an unprecedented  atmosphere of goodwill, friendship and
cooperation among her member countries.
17. Myanmar In Evolution
Myanmar is abundant in natural resources and also has a sizeable educated
manpower. Today, the government of Myanmar has successfully dislodged the
buffers and has transformed the country into a friendship bridge networking
(South Asia, South East Asia and China). In fact, she has joined the ASEAN as
well as BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic
Cooperation). It is just  the beginning of her  dream to be able to meet her
commitments  and obligations in creating conditions necessary to support the
region's aim to become a peaceful, prosperous and economic power in the coming
Myanmar is now going through an evolution but there are some who want to turn
it into a revolution. She is  holding on to her hard-won peace and stability
just like the ASEAN are holding on to theirs. ?Peace may not be everything--
but without peace, everything is nothing.?
18. Why The Change From State Law & Order Restoration Council To State Peace
		& Development Council
he change itself indicates that the military government regards itself as a
transitional or a caretaker government    exacting a step-by-step
transformation  to  democracy  it   cherishes for the entire nation. If the
military government  intends to hold on to the power as it has been accused of
by the western governments, changes in the name of the government or members
of its administration are not necessary. It is a change of substance, entity
and identity. 
The military government is systematically moving   towards her main objective
of a modernized, well-developed and peaceful nation within a solidified union
and supportive economic infrastructure. To reach her ultimate goal, Myanmar
intends to move phase by phase. The first phase during the SLORC
administration was to restore and establish Law and Order in the country since
the national crisis in 1988 with a view to national reconciliation, stability,
tranquillity and to initiate the transformation to a multi-party democratic
system with a maket-oriented economy from a socialist one-party  system and a
centralized economy. Now, in phase two SPDC will strengthen and reinforce the
maintenance of  peace and stability while reinvigorating all-round development
in the country. Myanmar is also very much interested in meeting her
commitments to become as developed as the senior ASEAN countries and with this
in heart and mind she intends to give high priority to the promotion of her
economic sector. Myanmar also believes that in order to  become a functioning
and disciplining democracy in the near future, she first will have to create a
strong infrastructure in economic and security enabling the emergence of a
middle class. This is one of the main reasons for her priority in the
development of her economic sector in this second phase. Simultaneously, in
the process of spearheading the peace and development initiatives as the name
implies, the drafting of the new  constitution will also be completed and
elections will take place in the next phase. 
Unfortunately, we have been inescapably stuck in the first phase much longer
than we initially have expected, due to unnecessary pressures and problems
created from within the country and abroad. The economic sanctions and
embargoes imposed on Myanmar by the western countries are like  putting
obstacles and hurdles on our path to democracy.  Ironically, it is the same
western nations that are criticizing Myanmar for not being a democracy. Being
resultant, the  essence of the change is nothing but a systematic step-by-step
process in meeting her preparedness for the transition to a disciplined and
functioning democracy.
												  Lt-Col  Hla Min
				Office  of  Strategic  Studies
				       Ministry  of  Defence

December, 	1997 	(1st Edition)
February,  	1998 	(2nd Edition)
March, 	1998	(3rd Edition, Revised and Updated)
April, 	1998	(4th Edition) 
May, 	1998	(5th Edition)
August, 	1998	(6th Edition)
September, 	1998	(7th Edition, Revised and Updated)
September,	1998	(8th Edition)
October,	1998 (9th  Edition, Revised)
October,    1998 (10th Edition)