Compassionate letter number two,
for my beloved Nan Sai
Compassionate letter No 2
I am praying every day for you and your family. Although I am still anxiously waiting for your reply to my valentine letter, I am elated because many of your elder relatives sent letters to my friend Dr Tayza. This shows that they all care for the future of our marriage and most of them are sympathetic with our cause.
We all accepted that it is their right to ask for any thing they wish for their State’s future.
But we have to be pragmatic. Even if they wish or demand the Future Federal Union of Burma, to deliver them with the sun and moon as a dowry, if within our capacity or if possible, we are willing to fulfill their wish and even would try to add on some extra stars as gift for them! But as you know my dear; there must be give and take policy: a negotiated fair settlement for all the parties, which could be accepted by not only us but even by the present Military Government.
We are not just No Action Talk Only, NATO, but like the real NATO in action. Our action is our proof. Just look at this week’s Burma Digest; on the auspicious National day, the heading is “Hailing Shan Nationalist Spirit”. My friends devoted almost the whole publication with your brothers’ and uncles’ letters. This is the proof that all of us, my brothers, and of course I also included, love your Shan Pye.
This is the way to go dear, and they have walked the talk! Please control your anger before finishing this letter or even finishing this paragraph, because you all would misunderstand my following sentence. I am just trying to make all of you to see the whole perspective by looking from the opponent’s eye. (Actually we are even not enemies or opponents.) Sometimes although it may hurt us, we must be willing to listen to the alternative views and opinions to know the truth. We must avoid punishing the whistle blowers with anger, and then only we could know what went wrong with us. Very easy, if we are wrong, just apologize and try to improve our selves. Even if we think we are right, we could have a chance to explain others. If that is in a grey area, we could negotiate for the best outcome acceptable by both sides. If we just wish to be surrounded by yes men, one day we could face the fate of “The King with the new clothes”
So my dear, don’t angry with my following comment or question; Can you just expect your uncles’ Shan newspaper would publish Bama or other any ethnic minority’s cause, letters from one group only devoting almost the whole publication? I don’t think so. I already told you dear, please don’t show your anger.
Once we start detaching from our narrow self interest and started to think or see from the side of others, we could get enlightenment and could understand each other.
Yes, even Burma Digest Patron is Prof. Kanbawza Win, one of your ethnic uncles.
On the Union Day of Burma/Myanmar, most important subject for all of us is that you had asked for a divorce! And we hereby also like to request or apologize our other ethnic brothers not to misunderstand that we are favouring Shans only.
This is the example test case, we all have to discuss the pros and cons of divorce or separation or liberation or independence.
We are indirectly handling or discussing this issue because the future of our country’s fate: whether to be separated into many small states or stay united with better terms and conditions depended on this test case. Some of us, including me, are even suggesting to MERGER, using the EU template, with our neighbours, of course without loosing our country’s sovereignty, dignity, identity and denting our citizens’ interests and rights.
My dear darling Nam: may you kindly allow me to share with you a very precious lesson that my father had given to me. Later only I knew that the original idea was not his own, but adapted from a famous fable. You know, we were staying in Lashio, your Northern Shan State, at that time. My father brought back some apples from the Rangoon trip. During Ne Win’s time, even apples are a rare luxury for us. He purposely chose two different sizes of apples and told me, “My son you are older than your brother and big and wise enough to take some responsibility. Choose one of the apples you like and give to your brother.” I was young and greedy at that time, took the bigger one and give the smaller apple to my brother. Then only my father taught a lesson I never forget.
“If you are given a chance as a leader or an elder, you have to look after the interest of others under your care and command.
You have to give them what you your self would want! You have to take what they had left.”
I was angry because I have to take a smaller apple, but I dare not disobey my father. But the clever witty younger brother of mine shamed me, by saying, “Father, why don’t you give me the chance to choose?” Our father was surprised and just nodded the head and look curiously at my younger brother, what he was going to do. He took hold of the bigger apple, kissed the apple and passed over to me. He told the unbelievably wise words which always stayed in my heart forever, “I want this big one, so I have to give to my Ah Ko, elder brother.” He even continued, “Anyway my mouth is small and my stomach is full for this big apple, as I had just taken some biscuits.”
So actually my younger brother had taught me a big lesson for my life. From that time onwards, if I am in a position to decide, I always consider what the second party would like and the third party, witness or other unrelated person would think about my decision. I know I must be fair and square and must be seen by all as not selfish, greedy, and not bias towards myself. Then only, I am sure, I would be free from the accusations of unfair practices of selfishness, greediness, cronyism, nepotism and favouritism.
The other lesson was given by my uncle, adopted father, U Nu. He forced me to read the book he translated from Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people.” I got a lot of lessons which were useful for my whole life.
If you want the fish, you have to consider what the fish like or want, not what you like. You cannot catch (attract or lure) the fish with the bread and butter you like but have to use the worms that the fish like.
And the story of the coal salesman’s
many years of rejection by the steel boss ended once he found out and used a soft spot of that man. At the latest appointment, although he wanted to sell coal, he never mentioned about that but discussed about the stamp collections, the hobby of the rich man’s beloved daughter. At last he got the order to give his coal samples and won a faithful regular customer and became rich.
Dear Nam, please allow me to repeat the warnings of the author and the translator, my uncle/adopted father, that they were not asking to pretend, but to be really interested in what the other party wanted and to fulfil whole heartedly free from selfish ulterior motives. It must be sincere and genuine interest but not just pretend to be interested just to reap the rewards, or curry the favours.
(Although I am quoting from U Nu’s book, the original idea came from Dale Carnegie. I hope Dale Carnage Institute would kindly forgive us for using this. This webpage is the non-profit web site for the reshaping of our downtrodden country, Burma. I am also writing without any monetary gain.)
Now I want to quote the political analyst, Raja Petra Kamarudin from his
“Keep your enemies close” article, “In politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. So keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer. This would mean ‘today friends, tomorrow enemies; today enemies, tomorrow friends. And that best describes politics. Politics is the art of the impossible (anything is possible in politics).”
For most of the oppositions, SPDC Generals are our enemy. And the SPDC Junta also regarded all the oppositions as sworn enemies. If we could successfully transform our enemy, Myanmar Military, to be your close-friend, or even just a friend close to us, we could win over their heart! They would be most dangerous if they are away from us, stayed as enemies and always trying a plot to harm us.
If we could successfully persuade them to become our friends, nothing is impossible for our country.
The best thing for NLD, Ethnic Minorities and all the opposition is to always try to remain as best friends, close to each other and try to transform our ‘enemies’, SPDC Junta and Myanmar Army to become our even closer friend.
Dear Nam, we must make sure that we are sincere and trustworthy friends.
Even if we departed our ways after a stipulated times for example 10 years, we must act like gentlemen. Could not stab each other from the back. We must never act like the original Bo Aung Din from the famous movie, who made friends with the authorities and continue to commit crimes secretly. But I trusted that our friend Bo Aung Din, who is typing my letter now, which I am dictating to him, would not commit a treason on all of us.
Dear Nam, I know you wish to raise a question; “whether NLD and all the oppositions should sleep with the ‘enemy’ in order to secure the right to form the Government.”
I still remember your argument, rejecting my above suggestion on previous occasions, “NLD will be sounding its death knell if it throws away its principles and forms a coalition with Military influenced parties, a party whose fundamental aim is diametrically opposed to that of the NLD. One aims to write the Federalism based on Democratic constitution where Burma declared a secular democratic Federal state, and the other wants to do away with the Panglong Treaty based old constitution and set up a Military dominated dictator ruled autocratic state, where the Military leaders’ interest is supreme forever.”
But SPDC Junta had something all us wanted; positions of power and authority to govern, whole mighty government authority, manpower, experience to govern the country, control, protect and the capability to change the country’s policy. They could offer all those to us only if they are sure that we could be trusted for; safety of their life, of their property, continued power and influence. We must convince that we are not interested in taking revenge but could be a trusted partner for a long time. We must convinced them that we would never stab their back or commit a treason.
Now they are even avoiding a dialogue with us. So instead of just asking for a dialogue, if we could convinced them with our solid plan with the benefits for them, guaranties for them, plans for our country and the well planned roles for all of us including the Myanmar Military, the pace for the reform and collation would be much faster.
And we in turn had something that they wanted
; support of the whole population and the world’s support, from ASEAN, EU, USA, Japan, Korea up to UN etc. whose political, financial and all the supports the Myanmar Military needed.
So if we can start by becoming temporary friends for, lets say 10 years, we could build a real trust and firm confidence on each other.
Don’t worry my dear Nam, if we sacrifice and compromised at first for about 10 years, although you think we are compromising too much, it may be better than the prolonged status quo. A lot of our people, your uncles, NLD people including our Daw Su are not only suffering now but their talents are wasted. The whole country’s development and progress in all aspects are also frozen like our country’s time machine is jammed.
When we were young “Shwe Ba” was a favourite actor, hero of the rural people. According to the story, hero must suffer first but usually like all the popular stories, the villain must be defeated by the hero. But some naive villagers could not tolerate the scene of their hero tortured and start to throw things at the ‘silver screen’. So the producers of Shwe Ba movies have to show the slide that “Shwe Ba will suffer a little bit at first but at last he will win”.
So “Swe Ba will suffer a little bit at first”,
is the catch word used by many people in Burma. I do not mean that we only are heroes they are villain and we will win over them later! What I mean is we are all in the position of “Shwe Ba” or heroes. We mean NLD, all the Ethnic Minorities, all the oppositions and the present Military government. Yes, if we could start to stop calling or thinking the present government as villain, we are on the right path of reconciliation. We all are heroes in our own way, we all love our country, and we all have to work together as the faithful partners for the development and progress of our country for a limited period e.g. 10 years of interim period.
Of course, after that, we would not became enemies again but may be in the opposite side of politics, when there was no longer anything we needed from each other. But there is a possibility that our 10 year contract marriage would work as many of the arranged marriages.
After that 10 years of Interim Coalition Government, even if we are on the opposite side of the political divide, we have to fight democratically in the fair and square elections, with the Democratic Laws, rules, regulations and most important of all, the Federal Constitution, which we will draw together after a real negotiations and compromised to get a fair and equal treatment for all.
NLD, Ethnic Minorities and all the oppositions inside and abroad must be willing to negotiate and assure the safety and the future of the Myanmar Military, the key mover & shaper of the political landscape in Myanmar/Burma!
Politics should be about principles. It is only when a party has steadfast principles, that it can be in a position to work for the benefit of its country in the long term. But we must accept the reality. We could not just keep on demanding what we want. We have to see from the other’s view.
We must accept that we have to get the negotiated settlement or agreement after comporomise from both sides. This is the only kind of politics possible, also sometimes called pragmatic or real-politics.
Would this be the ends justifying the means? Dear Nan, instead of fighting among our selves and neighbours to get a bigger piece of the cake, we are proposing to try to bake a bigger cake together, so that we all could enjoy with a bigger shares! If we just continue to fight, not only two sides would suffer but our beloved country and its people would continue to suffer.
If any one have the strong feelings about my above advice just look at the present condition;
Myanmar/Burma is in dire straits. The problems are multifarious, many of them deliberately created by SPDC to further entrench its oligarchy. SPDC practices Machiavellian politics to the hilt, turning it into an art-form. But this status quo cannot go on forever, as the consequences of immoral, corrupt and abusive governance will begin to unravel, as we are witnessing on a daily basis. Now NLD and all the oppositions are willing to compromise and ready to negotiate. But the present Military government is dragging its feet for change and avoiding any discussion or dialogue.
So now please refer back the article, “Burma Must Have A Good Plan” by Min Khin Kyaw.
Yes, we need a sound and fail-safe political game plan to tell the present government.
In order to get all the necessary facts, ideas, data and strategy:
We must have a Centre for Strategic Studies, a THINK TANK, for Burmese Democracy.
We have to brain storm to get all the facts; what to do and what to avoid.
What we could offer for them for how long.
What we want e.g. Democracy, Federal system with up to which power for each state.
We should concentrate what we all could offer for the:
(a) present Military Government,
(b) for the Ethnic Minorities and
(c) the future Union of Burma/Myanmar.
(Note: we mean NLD, all oppositions, Ethnic Minorities, rebels etc.) We should make sure, up to how much we could offer for others, especially the present Military leaders and all the Military, but not up to how much we want for ourselves. But at least we must have the details of what we want immediately, e.g. release of all political prisoners including our Ah Ma Gyi Ma Ma Su.)
In reality, we all could not meet together for a conference.
So those in the developed countries and safe from repercussions from the host governments and Myanmar Military should start with what they could. Others could contribute with all other means.
Dear my darling Nam, my letter looks more like political articles, rather than a love letters. I think it is nothing wrong if you remember the late Indian First Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s letters for her daughter, Indra Gandhi. (She also followed her father’s foot steps and later became the PM of India.) The epic saga of humankind right from 6000 BC to 1935 has been written as a series of letters and later those letters have been compiled into a book called the Glimpses of World History.
All these letters were written by Nehru during the periods he spent at various jails. So all the reference he had were his own notes he made while reading the great books in the jails.
The book contains about 196 letters written from 1930 to1933. All these letters, though not a first hand reference on history, contain Nehru’s personal remarks on all the “great” moments of history. (http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/reference/glimpses_of_world_history )
Dear Nam please does not think that I am megalomanias or is suffering from senile dementia because I dare to compare my love letters with that of the great man’s classic literature in history. I am not equating my self with him or his letters but just searching some excuses to justify my action of discussing geo-politics in my love letter to my wife. I know although you love me, you use to hate that kind of excuses from me.
Do you still remember that you used to tease me like that when you were angry because you could not defeat me during our arguments? Like Kam Leik/Hti Sai’s song, please don’t forget that you had sought my assistance numerous times for your Ph.D. thesis. Sorry for my teasing you back with the remarks, “the cat now got the wings”. You could not forgive nor forget that teasing because you wrongly thought that I was jealous of your success. Now you flew away from me like a winged bird. Although I wish you to come back to me, I never even imagined putting you in a cage. Instead, I wished to have a pair of wings and free from the cage to be together with you flying around the world. (By the way, be careful and avoid the bird flue areas. Don’t be angry my dear, I cannot stop teasing you, you have to try to accept my habit of over-dosed sense of humour.)
So you see during the period of EMPIRE, political prisoners were treated very well in India and Burma. They had accesses to all the media and the library. They could write letters and books.
Ludu U Hla
, husband of Ludu Daw Ah Mar, wrote “The Caged Ones,” while he was under detention as a Political Prisoner in the 1950s. Ludu U Hla – penned these sensitive portraits of his fellows behind bars. His sympathetic probe of ‘criminals’ underlying social conditions described so masterfully in this book. This collection of stories won Ludu U Hla the UNESCO prize for literature in 1958.
Note: above is the name of English translated version. The original is in Burmese and the title “The caged birds.” Just coincidence only, but do you remember my first letter about the “Fighting Peacock” in the golden cage was blamed by the dried fallen leaf, Hti Saing’s song.
Dear darling just compare the above two persons and my uncle, U Win Tin, who is a prominent journalist and writer, behind bars since 1989. He is also a member of the CEC of the NLD. All the political prisoners in Myanmar nowadays are not allowed to write, no access to any media and treated very badly. During the days before and just after independence political prisoners were put in “B” class, separated from criminals and some even said it was a luxury. Now they are treated very badly, worse than criminals’ status. And the criminals were encouraged or instigated by the prison authorities to bully or torture the Political Prisoners.
So we wish to appeal to the SPDC Generals that even if they have not yet decided to release the political prisoners immediately; please kindly consider to put the elderly and ill prisoners under house arrest only with strict restriction, and to protect and treat the remaining political prisoners more humanely, if possible in the special “B” class as before.
Please show some mercy and good will to all of the political prisoners. All of us and the whole world will appreciate and thank all of you for that kind humane act of benevolence. This is the time to build mutual trust, understanding and confidence.
Dear my darling Nam, see, I never forget our uncle Khun, but care about all the political prisoners. Please try to understand and accept all the problems of our country with more patience. After all Lord Buddha taught us that ANGER and REVENGE would burn our heart first. Although we all are not ready or mature enough to turn another cheek to the SPDC Generals, as Jesus preached, we should forgive all the wrongs done on us and concentrate on the plan for the future of all of us.
Dear Nam, in every deal, discussions, discourse, deliberations, negotiations, dialogue, talks, bargaining in either business, political or personal; every person or party would like to get the best deal or best score for them. This is nature only. But for our country’s future, all of us already knew what each and every side want. And the present Military leaders also already knew what the people, opposition, Ethnic Minorities want.
If each and every party just insists on pushing others to compromise for them to get the best deal, there is no ending and the process would be prolonged.
And I am sure, the present Military Government, who is in power, would naturally try to drag on the process and if possible even will try to avoid any dialogue or discussion as they are doing at the present.
Dear Nan, do you remember the Economist John Nash’s ‘Game Theory’ you used in your PhD Thesis? If we all just push for the best deal for our own group’s ‘selfish’ interests and try to cut the throat of others, we must understand that all the players are not stupid, but clever, and would definitely have the same best strategy, for selfish gain, no matter what the other chooses.
This is the ‘dominant strategy’. When all the players have this same dominant strategy, all of us would be in the ‘Nash Equilibrium’. The result for all of us is check mate. If we stay longer in status quo we all would suffer. All the oppositions, SPDC Generals, our country and all the people will suffer the great loss.
Common sense dictates that the best strategy for all of the opposition and the SPDC Generals is for all of us to cooperate and form a coalition government. This is the ‘cooperative solution’ in ‘game theory’ as it maximizes all the players’ joint welfare. And if all of us are sincere and try to save others’ neck, we all are safe and sound.
All of us must be pragmatic and accept the above truth and ‘Think out of the box’ dear Nam. All of us, NLD, the Ethnic Minorities, oppositions and all the interested parties must accept that we have to get the negotiated settlement or agreement after compromise from our sides first and offer the present Military Generals with the deal they could accept or difficult to ignore when the whole world, UN, USA, EU, ASEAN and all our big neighbours are watching closely.
I think, this is the only kind of politics possible at present, also sometimes called pragmatic or real-politics for us.
Once we start detaching from our narrow self interest and started to think or see from the side of others, our opponents, enemies e.t.c., we could get the trust for each other, work together and easier to get an agreement or at least we could PERSUADE THE military to the negotiating table to start a dialogue.
With Eternal love
Ko Tin Nwe.
BO AUNG DIN
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