Rangoon University Students Union

Rangoon University Students Union

RUSU

The political movement and the struggle for national liberation have a unique character in Burma as the students were always seen as the mobilizing force at the forefront of the struggle for freedom of Burma. The student movement is inseparable from the historic struggle for Burma’s independence from both colonial power and dictatorship.

Dr U Nyo had donated the Rangoon University Students Union building where students with the nationalistic spirit used to gather. Union building was finished before the start of 1931 summer holidays. Rangoon University and Yudathan College students gathered in that building for the first time and had a combined meeting. In that meeting they formed a protean committee for the drawing up of the constitution for the Students Union.

Ko Rashid led 9 member committee and that meeting decided_

  1. Students to vote and elect the committee members.
  2. To draw the University Students Union constitution.
  3. Discuss how to elect and choose the committee members.
  4. At that meeting temporary working committee was organized to supervise and hold an election for the Union Chairman and Committee Members.

Once the 1931-32 university semesters started, protean committee members had already finished the constitution.  The constitution, rules and regulations were also distributed to the Union members. Protean committee members called the union students a meeting at the upstairs hall in the union building and discussed about the election for the chairman post.

At that time, Ko Htun Sein had resigned from the Maths Department and was reading first year Law. Because of Ko Htun Sein’s outspokenness, courage, nationalistic spirit and great ambition, Thakhin Ba Sein wrote a proposal letter, nominating Ko Htun Sein for the Union Chairman post.  

Election Committee announced the election date and fixed to be held only in the next month. No one was nominated to compete with Ko Htun Sein for many days. University authority (Professor) ? D J Slorce’s crony students nominated Ko Ein, a Burmese Chinese, later became Galone U Saw’s minister (U Saw was the person who assassinated General Aung San)  to compete with Ko Htun Sein.

Therefore that election became the first in the history of the Student’s Union to be contested for the Chairman post. The University Students’ Union was ready in the University compound and became the centre of Nationalist movement of students. (That building was dynamited by General Ne Win)

Ko Htun Sein and Ko Ein’s supporters campaign very hard for them. Ko Ein’s supporters campaigned extreme methods such as mixing politics with religion. Just because Ko Htun Sein was a Muslim, they used religion to rundown Ko Htun Sein.

Even those disliked Ko Ein and defended Ko Htun Sein could not stand the attacks using religion and at last had to change camps to support Ko Ein.

During the election the religious extremists voted for Ko Ein. Crony students of the university authorities also voted for Ko Ein.

The election was quite active. The votes were counted thoroughly and finished at 11 PM.

Then the Election Committee Chairman Ko Kyaw Khin announced_

“Dear University Union Students, when the Election Committee members counted the votes, there is tie of votes. As the two candidates got the equal number of votes, the Election Committee members now have the duty or burden to   choose or elect the Chairman post. According to the Union’s Constitution, if the tally of vote is a tie, the Chairman of the Election Committee is allowed to vote to decide the outcome. If there is any protest or complaint of unfairness during the voting process, we could hold a new pooling to vote again. As the Chairman, I do not wish to decide in haste.  I wish to discuss seriously and thoroughly with all the Election Committee Members. I am telling this to make this election process fair and square.

Allow me to defer from making the decision tonight and kindly let me to give decision by casting my vote tomorrow morning at 8-00 A.M.” Once announce that decision only, Union members went back. 

References:

  1. Dr. Myint Swe’s article, “Rangoon University Students Union first Chairman Ko Htun Sein.”
  2. Pathi Ko Ko Lay, “History of Myanmar Muslims.”
  3. Smart Time Journal, volume (1) serial (5), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.