ASEAN LEADERS ARE BARKING AT THE WRONG TREE WITH THE WRONG CAUSE AND WRONG OBJECTIVE

ASEAN LEADERS ARE BARKING AT THE WRONG TREE 

WITH THE WRONG CAUSE AND WRONG OBJECTIVE

 

ASEAN leaders are complaining about the convenient way to solve the Rohingya problem.

But for the Rohingyas or Burmese Muslims or Christian Chins/Karens/Kachins and Buddhist Mons/Shans/Burmese etc AND the NLDS  and political opponents and armed rebel groups_

Whether the SPDC would accept them back is not their main concern. What is the consequences after repatriation is their only problem.

Jailed? Tortured? Is the main concern for all but ‘Village arrest’ (for Rohingyas only) is the problem.

No democracy, no Human Rights, no political life, no respect for the Rights of religious minorities and Ethnic minorities is their main concern.

But the lack of development, economic problems back home are the most important fact for all of them.

There is no clear cut line to DEFINE OR CATEGORIZE THEM INTO POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC MIGRANTS. 

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STOP HATRED, STOP TRYING TO DIVIDE; FOR A LONG LASTING PEACE, PROGRESS, AND PROSPERITY

 

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Help, not crush, Myanmar Military (to reform)

Help, not crush, Myanmar Military

(to reform)

Malaysiakini news by Soon Li Tsin

Dear Malaysiakini, reporter and Malaysiakini readers, please may all of you kindly allow me to dream as if this event is about Burma, Burmese researcher writing a book on Myanmar Military e.t.c.. I have dreamt about having an interview with DSAI and wrote more than half a dozen of articles on that subject. Please, kindly allow me to continue to dream on . . .

Modified and edited the news, “Author: Help, not crush, Umno” by Soon Li Tsin in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original news article. I hope that Soon Li Tsin and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

Author and academician Dr Ooi Kee Beng said Myanmar Military should be assisted (to reform) and not crushed in its attempt to reform itself.

Launching his book entitled ‘Lost in Transition: Myanmar under Military Dictatorship’ yesterday, Ooi (photo) expressed concern over the future of Myanmar Military which may resort to fascism.

“Myanmar Military is like (Taiwan’s) Kuomintang (KMT) and other parties in the region who were responsible for independence and a lot of these parties had to reform itself like the KMT – a once dictatorial party is a totally a new party today with the same name.

“It is not given that if Myanmar Military reforms itself, it would reform like how KMT did – meaning liberalize and play the democratic game. Fascism is always close at hand.

“We don’t want that to be encouraged. We should work to not crush Myanmar Military but help it along in its reforming process,” he told the audience.

The book is a compilation of articles written by Ooi – who is a fellow at the Institute of South East Asian studies in Singapore – on SPDC Myanmar Military Junta’s governance in the last twenty years.

It is a follow up to his 2006 book, ‘Era of Transition: Myanmar After General Ne Win’ which analysed Myanmar Military and tests faced by SPDC Junta Senior General Than Shwe after taking over his predecessors General Ne Win and General Saw Maung.

Asked to explain the message in his new book, he said: “It was what I felt when I put the book together at the end of last year, that something very important was lost.

“There was hope that Myanmar could develop itself in a proper manner and we were actually already on the slippery slope and we did not see any force that could stop it,” he described.

Two main challenges

During the panel discussion, Centre for Public Initiatives Director Dr Lim Teck Ghee highlighted two main challenges for Sr General Than Shwe in light of the recent Safron Revolution and the alleged internal feud currently taking place in Myanmar Military.

“One that is most crucial is that he has to battle and isolate the extremists elements within Myanmar Military and its many faceless supporters in the Kyant Phut, Swan Arrshin, ex-Military associations, the civil service and the Myanmar community.

“These are elements that are paved with revenge – launched in a campaign that is sometimes quiet and sometimes quite loud – racial-baiting and incitement,” he explained.

“(The) second challenge is to move firmly and quickly on building a good working relationship with the NLD, Ethnic Minorities, Religious Minorities and together in taking on the scourge of corruption,” he added.

The former World Bank economist noted that Myanmar Military Generals should declare their assets, introduce policy reforms and a merit-based system in order to change the country’s economic performance.

“In theory these they should lead the way to an economic revitalization for Myanmar. The Military and ex-military (U Paine) hold more than 60 per cent of the gross national product (GNP). Investors all over the world place importance on transparency, accountability and efficiency, once they could form an Interim Government with the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led opposition.” he said.

However he warned that the Myanmar Military can derail the true democratization by using military and its affiliated associations’ machinery, state funding and the civil service to play the “revenge, obstructionist or spoilers game”.

“I’m worried. So far the Myanmar Military has used it’s military apparatus and resources and are bent on punishing the opposition as we’ve seen from the 8888 Revolution, Depayin Massacre and Saffron Revolution to the arresting of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led NLD leaders, Ethnic Minority leaders, 88 Generation Student leaders, monks and unarmed protesting civilians” he said.

Meanwhile, Ong said he would deliberate on setting up the fair and square, truly democratic election system despite calls from the opposition to boycott it.

Lim was joined by Malaysiakini’s editor-in-chief Steven Gan and Ooi during the panel discussion.

The book launch was officiated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and was attended by about 8888 people.

March 27 Myanmar Military day message

  March 27 Myanmar Military day message

Modified and edited the original letter, Arrogance? Never again”, by Tanya  in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that Tanya and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

The absolute power of the successive ruling Tatmadaw Junta Generals corrupted them absolutely and their hubris led to their downfall.

The military dictators ravaged Myanmar/Burma for over 46 years, taking away our right to free speech, instilling fear, corrupting the country to the core, and depriving us of the wealth of this country by allowing it as largesse for his cronies. The ruling top senior general’s arrogance filtered down to the `little Napoleon generals’ who outdid him in his arrogance in implementing his will.

One of the greatest crime of the Sr General Than Shwe was the crime of ‘commission by omission’. He also let his greedy family enrich themselves at the country’s expense. However, I still do think he is a cut above the diabolical council of Tatmadaw’s crooks.

Cronies sat down and wagged their tails, happy that they got the crumbs from the table.

Dear Senior General, with all the wealth that you have now, and after all these years of your so-called “service to your people and country”, did you manage to buy peace of mind and dignity in your old age?

General Ne Win was the kind of shameless and under-handed leader we have had for over twenty years. He and his band of brigand cabinet ministers rode roughshod over the people, especially the non-Burmese, very often with barely concealed contempt for them, and most often with open contempt. His was the legacy that was continued during the days of the Than Shwe.

I call on all Myanmar/Burmese citizens from today to never, never, ever again tolerate the kind of arrogance we have been subjected to all these years at the hands of these fellows who have been mistakenly thinking they are our lords and masters. From today we will reclaim our birthright, which includes the right to liberty, freedom of expression and equality before the law. And we will remind the despicable autocrats that they have been put in their positions to serve and deliver, as our servants. They will listen when we speak our minds.

Tatmadaw Yebaws or military rank and file have been made pawns in the game played by these heartless; morally bankrupt generals, solely for the purpose of enriching and empowering themselves.

I am saying this from the bottom of my heart: if the Tatmadaw wants to be a strong and respected force that counts on the global stage, if they want their progeny to be a generation of winners, then they don’t need such generals. All they need is to believe in themselves, claim their pride and dignity, and compete on a level playing field with the civilians. I sincerely believe they can do this. Just go for it.

Most crucial at this juncture is that the delicate balance of racial and religious harmony is maintained. Without that everything else will be futile.

The Myanmar Tatmadaw will go all out to turn the Bamas against the other races. They must never succeed in this. Let us not be deceived by the Tatmadaw generals’ lies and start to distrust each other. If we work for the common good, we can ensure that all of us, will prosper. Isn’t that what we all want?

I would like to exhort all Tatmadaw rank and files not to let these evil generals poison your minds against the other minority races and minority religious persons.

If we let those generals win at their game we will all become abject losers. Above all, let us all have generous hearts. Let us not believe in the adage ‘beggar thy neighbour’. On the contrary let us believe in ‘prosper thy neighbour’. Together we will prevail.

Note: Rank and file (Idiom) =

  • Followers,
  • the general membership.

This expression comes from the military, where_

  • a rank denotes soldiers standing side by side in a row,
  • and file refers to soldiers standing behind one another.

The first recorded figurative use of this term was in 1860. 

e.g. This new senator really appeals to the rank and file in the labor unions.

 

Tibet – support the Dalai Lama

Tibet – support the Dalai Lama

By Feraya Nangmone

Hi,

I just signed an urgent petition calling on the Chinese government to respect human rights in Tibet and engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. This is really important, and I thought you might want to take action:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

After nearly 50 years of Chinese rule, the Tibetans are sending out a global cry for change. But violence is spreading across Tibet and neighbouring regions, and the Chinese regime is right now considering a choice between increasing brutality or dialogue, that could determine the future of Tibet and China.

We can affect this historic choice. China does care about its international reputation. Its economy is totally dependent on “Made in China” exports that we all buy, and it is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China that is a respected world power.

President Hu needs to hear that ‘Brand China’ and the Olympics can succeed only if he makes the right choice. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention. Click below to join me and sign a petition to President Hu calling for restraint in Tibet and dialogue with the Dalai Lama — and tell absolutely everyone you can right away. The petition is organized by Avaaz, and they are urgently aiming to reach 1 million signatures to deliver directly to Chinese officials:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

Thank you so much for your help!

Gambari diplomatically hiding his failure

 Gambari diplomatically hiding his failure

Note: The heading is my own idea. But the following newspaper’s facts and idea are not contrary to my heading. 

From what he has said and from what the military junta expressed to him during his third visit, United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari is unlikely to have achieved anything toward national reconciliation and democracy in military run Burma.

The Nation, Published on March 13, 2008

Gambari finished his latest visit to the troubled country on Monday, making a brief stopover in Singapore – but without meeting any officials of the current Asean chair, or the media. The reaction after the visit was different from his usual routine following his previous trips. For Burma affairs, nothing is top secret for the UN representative, unless he has nothing to say or nothing has been achieved.

Gambari met many people during his stay in Burma from last Thursday to Monday, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he met twice this time, on Sunday and Monday. However, the details of their discussion are not yet known. Previously, Gambari rushed to tell the media whenever he got a statement from Aung San Suu Kyi that she was ready to talk with the junta over political reconciliation. The UN envoy then shuttled around the globe to tell the same thing to world leaders whom he expected to help him bring about a dialogue between Burma and those in Bangkok, Beijing and New Delhi.

This time Gambari got a very tough assignment from his boss, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, to achieve a substantive dialogue between the junta and the opposition. Actually the authorities in the Burmese capital, Napyidaw were originally scheduled to welcome Gambari in April, but the secretary-general made a request to have his special envoy visit early.

Gambari was allowed in, with permission for an extended stay, but the visit lasted only five days, as many of his requests for meetings were rejected.

Prior to Gambari’s visit, UN chief Ban sent a letter in February to the paramount Burmese leader, Than Shwe requesting a five-point cooperation deal to help his special envoy achieve his mission. The junta later decided to dump all UN requests and even burnt them in public, allowing only the government mouthpiece, the New Light of Myanmar, to publicise the substance of the meeting between the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) spokesman Kyaw Hsan and Gambari over the weekend. Kyaw Hsan told Gambari that the Burmese government would arrange for UN visitors at any time as proposed, but the establishment of a special office in Rangoon for Gambari was unnecessary since the UN already had many representatives in the country through whom Gambari could work.

The second point, which Gambari championed before his visit, was to have inclusive participation in Burmese politics. But this was also dismissed by the junta. Kyaw Hsan said the new Burmese constitution had already been drafted and would not be amended any further. The draft bars those who are married to foreigners from participating in politics. More precisely, it prevents Aung San Suu Kyi from having any hope of being elected as the next Burmese leader.

“It was Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy who decided not to participate in the constitution drafting. There cannot be any more ‘all-inclusiveness’ in this process,” Kyaw Hsan told Gambari.

On the third point, Ban asked to have a credible, timeframe and all-inclusive discussion between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi, including support by the UN.

Kyaw Hsan simply replied that the National Convention – the constitution drafting body – is the most credible and all-inclusive political discussion forum.

Now, discussions between the Minister for Information and Aung San Suu Kyi are under way in accordance with UN wishes. Than Shwe even could meet the opposition leader if Suu Kyi agrees to drop her demands for the continuance and extension of international sanctions against the junta. But as long as Aung San Suu Kyi maintains this stance, the dialogue cannot be productive, Kyaw Hsan said.

On the demands for the release of political prisoners, the junta simply said that it has no political prisoners, but that those who are serving jail terms or are under other restrictions, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have violated the laws.

The final UN point, a request to have an inclusive National Economic Forum for addressing economic and social affairs, and a cooperative mechanism for humanitarian assistance, was simply rejected as being “useless”, Kyaw San said.

“If Your Excellency helps to lift economic sanctions, allow aid into the country, and approve loans, it might be more effective than the Economic Forum you propose. Giving assistance for poverty reduction while imposing sanctions will never produce the right solution,” he said.

Kyaw Hsan also pointed out to Gambari that democracy developed in accordance with different contexts in different countries. He compared his constitution-making process with neighbouring Thailand.

“Now, the Thai people have approved and started to practice a new constitution for Thailand. But none of the candidates of the People Power Party and the opposition Democrat Party had the right to participate in the [drafting] process. To make it clearer, in Iraq, Shi’ite militants who oppose the US, and Sunni militants who have links with al-Qaeda had no right to participate in the process of drafting a constitution. Similarly, in Afghanistan, the Taleban had no right to draft the constitution. We haven’t heard any objection to these events by those persons and organisations who are objecting to us. But with the drafting of the constitution in our country, many are criticising us and pointing out that certain persons are not among the representatives in the process. It is not reasonable,” he said.

Gambari has no argument, as the UN has nothing to bargain with. He simply said he would convey the message to his boss, whom he would meet in Senegal this week.

Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Nation

Read United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari ‘s report here.

Persistence and patience

don’t pay in Burma

The Nation: Regional neighbours need to exert more pressure on the junta to achieve political reconciliation

When dealing with the Burmese junta, concerned parties, especially the UN and its special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, must be prepared for long and often futile negotiations and continual setbacks. Since 1988, those who have engaged Burma have had their faces slapped by the generals. Indeed, Gambari was snubbed again by the junta just a week ago. This has increasingly become the typical pattern of engagement with Burma. If anything, there is also a realisation that the junta is calling the shots and nothing can progress without its agreement. This is the saddest development since last September, when violence broke out on the streets of Rangoon and other cities. The whole world witnessed more atrocities committed by Burmese troops, who gunned down monks and other peaceful protestors. The international community led by the Western countries suddenly became more vociferous. The UN Security Council managed to talk a lot but there was no solution to the situation. Since then, Gambari has visited Burma three times but without any substantial progress being made. The junta leaders know the game plan very well. They know how to manipulate both Gambari and the good offices of the UN.

Recently, the junta surprised the world with its announcement that there would be a national referendum on the new constitution in May, followed by a general election in 2010. But the electoral law bars any possible participation by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. With such a “roadmap”, the junta’s supporters have extra ammunition to further bolster the regime. Already, China and Asean have expressed support for this roadmap. Thailand is the most enthusiastic. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej went out of his way last week to accommodate the regime, without knowing the full implications for Thailand.

Without Thai support, the political reconciliation process in Burma will continue to stall – and thus work in favour of the junta. During the Surayud government, relations between the two countries were frozen. There were no new activities in the political or economic fields. However, with the formation of a new Thai government, the friendship has returned to normal. Severed economic links have been restored and Thailand is again willing to play second fiddle to Burma. With such an attitude, Thailand’s role in the Burmese crisis is turning into a travesty. Samak praised the regime after his visit to Rangoon. His comments revealed Thailand’s naivete and its leader’s foul mouth. Foreign Minister Noppadon Patama was no better. He said the situation in Burma is an internal matter and that Thailand does not support sanctions.

Apparently, the UN is the only hope. But the treatment of Gambari during his last visit was unwarranted. While the UN is still the best hope to help end the impasse, it lacks teeth. One of the problems is that UNSC members are not acting together. Both Russia and China support the Burmese junta. Their positive contributions to the six-party peace talks have yet to be seen. The UNSC must now bridge the gap and come together with a unified view that the Burmese situation is a threat to regional peace and security. 

It is interesting to note that all Thai leaders, including former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the current premier, are willing to make trade-offs with the Burmese generals. Given the current stalemate, there should be new initiatives to bolster the UN position. Within Asean, countries like Indonesia and Vietnam could do more. At one time, Indonesia under Suharto was considered an ideal model by the Burmese regime. But democratisation since 1998 has made Indonesia less attractive to the generals. Vietnam’s engagement with the West, and its successful economic development in the past two decades, has attracted the junta’s attention. Together with the UN, these countries could make a new impression on the junta. During the height of the Cambodian conflict in the 1980s, Indonesia helped break the deadlock, which subsequently led to the Paris peace talks. Maybe with a right combination of actors exerting pressure, things could move ahead in Burma.  

The Nation

SPDC Crony Criminal Thai PM Samak Sundaravej

Criminal Thai PM Samak Sundaravej

rules out direct dialogue with insurgents

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday ruled out direct negotiations with Malay Muslim separatist groups, saying their demands were unacceptable to the government.

Published on March 19, 2008 in The Nation

Without mentioning what the demands were, he said the six groups involved in the talks in Switzerland were “trying to internationalise the issue”.

He did not elaborate as to what he meant by “internationalise”, but security officials familiar with the case said the separatists wanted to involve the international community, including the EU and the UN, in the process, to ensure that the Thai side lived up to whatever promises it made.

“I’ve read the demands, and the position of the Thai government is that this is not an international issue. I cannot say at this point in time that we have knowledge of all of the identities of those involved, but we do have considerable information,” Samak said.

Most senior security officials do not agree with the idea of talking to the separatist groups, he said, adding that he would not go so far as calling them “sparrow bandits” like ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra did.

He said he was not in a position to say when the violence in the region would end but insisted the local community stood with the government, because: “The insurgents are killing their own people.”

He pointed to Tuesday morning’s grenade attack on a mosque in Yala as a glaring example of the militants slaughtering fellow Muslims.

Piyanart Srivalo,

Noppadon Petcharat

The Nation

Lessons from the southern insurgency

not learned

The Nation

 Last May in Yala, then Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont told a press conference that he had received “positive feedback” from separatist groups over the idea of establishing some sort of “dialogue”.

But he warned that more work had to be done before permanent peace in the Malay-speaking deep South could be achieved.

Kasturi Mahkota, foreign-affairs chief of the Patani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo), immediately welcomed Surayud’s statement. He called it a “positive gesture”.

But on Tuesday in Bangkok, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, ruled out the idea of negotiating with the separatists. Local media gave Samak’s statement a great deal of coverage but failed to provide a proper context to this sticky issue.

For as long as anybody can remember, Thai security officials have been going to the Middle East, Europe and neighbouring countries to talk to the leaders of long-standing separatist groups, including the Patani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo), Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) and Barisan Islam Pembebasan (BIPP).

However, the outcomes of these off-and-on chats have failed to have any affect on policy because they are carried out in an ad-hoc manner. They just want to sound out the separatists rather then work towards achieving something more constructive.

“Of course, they all say they are representatives of the Thai government,” said one exiled leader who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Samak said most government agencies disagree with direct negotiations. However, he was tight-lipped about the secret meetings between the two sides while insisting that the government was not going to sit down with the separatists on an equal basis.

Jolted by the weekend car bombs in Pattani and Yala, Samak had to sound uncompromising in public. The veteran politician knows he is dealing with an issue that cannot be easily translated into a quick political victory. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the premier and his interior chief, Chalerm Yoobamrung, have been side-stepping the issue.

The problem with the Thai security top brass is that,

  • after years of talking to the separatists,
  • their attitude has not changed.
  • They see themselves as “negotiating with bandits”
  • rather than being in a “dialogue with fellow citizens” –
  • people who embrace a different political ideology, as the communist insurgents did two decades ago.

The only thing that successive Thai administrations have agreed upon is that the issue should not be internationalised.

  • In other words, no foreign governments or international organisations should be involved in mediating the talks or be allowed to snoop around the deep South,
  • where allegations of gross human rights violations
  • and questionable security practices are rife.
  • Thailand looks at East Timor and Aceh and tells itself that this is not what it wants.

The problem with the Thai generals is that they think like Thai politicians.

They all want the violence to end under their watch.

Never mind that the problem is_

  • deeply rooted in history

  • and shaped by mistrust

  • and the resistance of southern Muslims to Thailand’s policy of assimilation.

Another problem is that the old guard – older members of the separatist groups – don’t and, in most cases, can’t control the new generation of militants on the ground.

Locally known as juwae, the new generation of insurgents do not necessarily identify with the old guard, and they engage in the kind of brutality unheard of by the previous generation. They are organised in cell clusters but have the capacity to coordinate attacks – 100 targets at a time – throughout the region.

Even after years of being on the receiving end of this battle, the government is still unable to fine-tune a number of important initiatives. At a recent Thai Journalists’ Association seminar in Pattani, the provincial Task Force commander, Major General Thawatchai Samutsakorn, said the “government can’t tell me what they [insurgents] will get if they surrender”.

Often, a suspect who surrenders is_

  • paraded in front of the media,
  • unable to speak freely,
  • while top officials tell the public how the suspect has come to his senses after being misled by some false religious teaching
  • and distorted history.

And afterwards, when released, the “reformed” militant becomes a target of his former comrades.

Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in the insurgency since it began in January 2004.

Don Pathan

The Nation