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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1769

Don’t be a Zat Pyet to Zat Thein

Prof. Kanbawza Win

As the New Year rings let us see ourselves in retrospect. The forlorn hope of progressive political change in Burma using all modern means has failed miserably. A popular uprising against military rule in 1988 failed, followed by nearly a decade of international economic sanctions was also a disaster. Regional engagement under the banner of the notorious Constructive Engagement by the neighboring countries followed by a string of special envoys from the United Nations promising aid in return for democratic progress were of no avail. Burma is destined to drift through the first decade of the 21st century much as it has for the past 60 years, teetering on the brink of economic collapse, cut off from the wider world and led by the tyrannical bombastic clique of military officers, convinced they are the only true custodian of the country which all indicates that there is a much deeper malaise afflicting the people of Burma.

Once proud and assertive culture now languishes listlessly among the scant and dusty remnants of glorious old days because of the successive Burmese Generals. "Unity and Discipline" was the great Burmese nationalist leader, Bogyoke Aung San's slogan, later echoed by his daughter Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was brutally crushed. Now the uncrowned king Than Shwe called on Sovergnity and Independence at the Thursday's Independence Day. Fanciful as it sounds, consider the latest moves by Than Shwe to rekindle some of the old royal symbols of Burmese unity, including the recent relocation of the capital from Rangoon to the new capital, now renamed Naypyidaw, which translates from the Burmese to "Royal Palace City of the Kingdom", is home to an ornate state room tiled with jade, where Than Shwe now receives guests. But locals are made to kneel in his presence because the chairs are deliberately not put in, so that they people would kneel and sit on the floor just as the Burmese and the Chinese monarchs of the olden days.

Even though it's not uncommon, in Southeast Asian history, for successful soldiers to establish new royal dynasties, the case of Burma is entirely different. For instance, that's how the modern Chakri dynasty was founded and after a period of decay resurrected in the 1940s in Thailand. King Than Shwe, endeavor to fill up this gap but is simply the wrong man, at the wrong time for the wrong job. The sad aspect is that the majority of the people did not know that it is not just getting the military out of the business of government but it’s creating viable state institutions that can replace the military state.

The NLD inside Burma after one and half decades could not move due to the restrictions of the very strict restrictions of the tyrannical Junta. They could concentrate more forcibly in the humanitarian aspects with a good rationale that Burma is at the bottom of the least developed country. It very much depends on the decision of our charismatic leader now under lock and key.

Those struggling in the Diaspora especially the border based multi colour associations, groups both ethnics (non Myanmar) and Myanmar groups are what we call in Burmese “Zat Pyet” meaning a dance/drama troupe that has gone astray and is forced to be dissolved.. The members of the bombastic umbrella organizations now even cannot air their rhetoric, while the offices of those catering for health and education has to closed down because all its members have gone into the camp to go for good to a third country. A lawyer association has opened a clinic etc. Actions speak louder than words. Once the well disciplined and the biggest ethnic organization who had just lost his old leader is now in disarray, first they split on religious lines and now there was a clear sign of more disintegrations as the fighters and the administration did not see eye to eye and the former has gone to negotiate if not to kow-tow to the Burmese military boots.

At the same time the Junta is also very shrewd and cunning as it encourage those bright intellectuals that had betrayed the noble cause, gone back to Burma, was augmented by its faithful scholars who were regularly send abroad to battle the Western and pro democracy movement theoretician. What more the self appointed researchers under the banner of “making the enemy our friends” have conducted a development training calling all from inside Burma including the offspring of the Generals (not a single person from the ethnic and pro democracy movement). All in all we are Zat Pyet or rather a Tat Pyet. Hence with these bleak pictures are we going to give up and bite the bullet? No, there are many faithful.

Just as the drowning man will catch a straw, so also the Burmese people are still pinning their hope on the UN to save them from the scourge of the Burmese army. It is far better for the Burmese case to be in the agenda of the Security Council, then to be vetoed by the undemocratic giants of the world. At least there is flickering light of hope in the long pitch dark night of half a century of the tyrannical army rule of the Union of Burma.

Kofi Annan has steps down but has left behind a global organization far more aggressively engaged in peacekeeping and fighting poverty. We have seen the world unite against terrorism after 9/11 then divides deeply over the U.S.-led war against Iraq.
At a Millennium Summit, he spurred world leaders to adopt a blueprint to wage a global war on poverty and bring the United Nations into the 21st century but the World Summit in 2005 took place with allegations of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq, bribery by U.N. purchasing officials, and widespread sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers.
World leaders agreed to create an internal ethics office but they did not give Annan the authority to make sweeping management changes. The major overhaul of the U.N.'s outdated management practices and operating procedures will be left to Ban Ki-moon who had just sworn in. But world leaders pledged to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

The 2005 summit also approved a fund to promote democracy and a new Peace building Commission to help countries make the difficult transition from war to peace, and it renewed a commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. A new Human Rights Council was highly touted as a replacement for the discredited Human Rights Commission. One of the major achievement during Kofi Anan’s accomplishment according to Lee Feinstein “was to set a framework that moved the U.N. from one century to the next - the response to mass atrocities, the central role of democracy, the importance of human rights, and a priority to development," The UN peacekeeping has expanded with nearly 80,000 U.N. troops.. Professor Edward Luck, director of the Center on International Organization at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, said "historians will be eulogizing U.N. agenda, both in terms of human security and human rights and the responsibility to protect."

The new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon means business when he chose Vijay Nambiar chef de cabinet and an award-winning journalist Ms. Michele Montas from Haiti as spokesperson while pledging "continuity along with change." Hence looking at the composition there is plenty of hope f that the UN will continue to handle the untold Burmese crisis for the last half a century. A regime sustained and oiled through growing and trading in illicit drug (Burma is second largest producer of opium in the world) cannot claim credibility and respect in community of nation. “The UN must change to meet the demands of the 21st century and must change with continuity,” Mr. Ban said and we do hope that this wills the case of Burma in the UN agenda.

The world has to support the people of Burma by whatever means to force release of political prisoners, secure freedom of operation for political parties and freedom of the press and opinion. The world stood up against apartheid in South Africa and fascism of Hitler, it is the same spirit that we are witnessing in the international community Economic sanctions are not enough and not effective and the international community under the banner of the UN need to raise their voices collectively because their silence will devour their dignity. The two giant neighbours still continue dining and wining with barbaric regime that has no iota of human dignity. Surely the world owes Burmese moral and material support to achieve this cause.

The United States vowed to press ahead with efforts to push a resolution through the UN Security Council condemning political repression in Burma, despite the reluctance of council heavyweights China and Russia. "We remain concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian and political situation in Burma, which poses a threat to stability in the region," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey. The United States introduced the resolution on December 13, but the measure faced opposition from China and was expected to make little immediate progress in the New Year when Russia takes over the presidency of the Security Council for January. The US-sponsored resolution does not call for sanctions against Burma, but said the situation in the country "poses serious risks to peace and security in the region" -- language which could foreshadow future punitive action. No doubt the Bear will protest as they have the bear instinct and the evil empire still lingers on.

Russia who became the president of the UNSC has proposed Monday 8th Jan for a public debate on the Threats to International Peace and Security. Its representative Vitaly Churkin is expected to defend Burma tooth and nail. It has circulated a draft presidential statement ( a lengthy one) which is difficult to negotiate but it still include human rights and the importance on conflict prevention and the need to improve peacekeeping. Hence there is still some hope.

We the faithful peoples of Burma in Diaspora who have never wavered in our struggle should join the UN and fight for our noble cause. Let us keep our petty quarrels subdue and join hands with those who are really on our side and prevent the Zat Thein (end of a story). We are quite positive that we will carry the torch of freedom to the end for truth and justice being on our side the heavenly and celestial beings (no matter what religion you profess) will be on our side. Let us show our solidarity with the international community and the UN

B T Win,Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Prime Minister of Burma has served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Menno Simons College of University of Winnipeg and later as a Senior Research Fellow at the European Institute of Asian Studies, Brussels is now the incumbent Dean of the Students of the AEIOU Programme, Chiangmai University Thailand and an Adjunct Professor of the School of International Studies, Simon Fraser University, of British Columbia, Canada.

- Asian Tribune

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