Handcuffed Than Shwe, the Genocide Criminal

Handcuffed Than Shwe, the Genocide Criminal

 than-shwe-2009-3-9-1-50 copy

Than Shwe,

                   Why did you arrest the Burmese Muslim leaders?

This is the CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY amounting to a GENOCIDE.

Do you understand the meaning of  Genocide?

Just licking the BOOT of Obama could not erase your sins or AGAINST HUMANITY and GENOCIDE

 If you fail to release the Muslim leaders, we would start a campaign to handcuff you.

If the world Muslims declare Jihad on SPDC, you could not find a safe haven but grilled in hell soon.

The world Muslim Ummah

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Happy Merdeka, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Please use your liberty to promote ours and freedom of Daw Suu

  

 Happy Merdeka, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad 

Please use your liberty to promote ours and freedom of Daw Suutugu_negara8_001

  

Merdeka means Independence but we Burmese and especially I have the pleasant memories once we heard the word Merdeka. We even had a “Pavlov” like reaction when we hear this word Merdeka.

Tun Dr M should advise the new PM YAB Najib to abandon the shameful Islam Had Hari

Tun Dr M should advise the new PM YAB Najib

to abandon the shameful Islam Had Hari

Just read the following interview published in the Mizzama on line magazine with the exiled umbrella orgnization ‘National Council of Union of Burma’ (NCUB) Joint General Secretary (1) Myint Thein. Surprisingly these two Buddhists organizations and persons’ views on Rohingyas are much better than the inhumane and un-Islamic  Islam Had Hari leader. Tun Dr M should advise the new PM YAB Najib to abandon the shameful Islam Had Hari from Malaysia as we should not continue to practice that kind of Islam in Malaysia.

“Humanism is more important than the term ‘Rohingya’: NCUB”, Interview for Mizzima by Ko Wild on Wednesday, 11 February 2009 with exiled umbrella orgnization ‘National Council of Union of Burma’ (NCUB) Joint General Secretary (1) Myint Thein.

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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. 

Continue reading

Deafening silence from Malaysia regarding Myanmar Cyclone?

Deafening silence from Malaysia regarding Myanmar Cyclone?

 

First of all I wish to apologize if I am wrong.

 

If Malaysian Government had already sent the condolence note to Myanmar, I am sorry for writing this.

 

If Malaysian Government, GLCs (government Linked companies), NST, TV3, NTV7, RTM and NGOs (esp. government affiliated) had already started a campaign to help Myanmar, please accept my  apology for wrongly writing this posting.

 

If you all haven’t done anything, it is shame on you.

 

We don’t want a cent from you Kaisu Malaysia!

 

 

We know that we are not Orang Puteh (Whiteman) , no Arab blood and have no Malay-Indonesian blood. We are ALWAYS discriminated in your country.

 

Never mind if you do not wish to recognize the undocumented workers/migrants and asylum seekers.

 

During the great disaster in Myanmar, I hope if Malaysian government could do the followings to help us without spending a cent.

 

Please announce amnesty on all the Myanmar/Burmese undocumented workers/migrants and asylum seekers including those already in the detention camp. (At least if they could work and earn, they could help their families, relatives and friends.)

 

You could put a time limit for example six months to one year.

It is shameful that you are heartless to continue arresting and some of your agents are harassing them daily.

 

Dr San Oo Aung

 

17 Myanmar Illegal Immigrants Held In Kelantan

BERNAMA, RANTAU PANJANG, May 6 (Bernama) — The Anti- Smuggling Unit (UPP) Tuesday arrested 17 Myanmar nationals without valid travel documents in Kampung Kempas, Machang, as they were being smuggled into the country by a syndicate.

Kelantan UPP commander Mazlan Che Hamid said the Myanmar nationals, aged between 16 and 30 years, had been turned over to the Immigration authorities.

He said the van driver, a Malaysian, stopped the vehicle by the roadside and fled after realising that it was being tailed by UPP personnel at 4.30 am.

The UPP personnel had followed the van from Kampung Kedap here, some 40 km from Machang, he said.

— BERNAMA

Use Olympic Games to educate China

Use Olympic Games to educate China

Concerned Netizen in Malaysiakini

I refer to the Malaysiakini article Fire on the roof of the world.

I am quite alarmed at China’s response to protests held in Tibet and surrounding regions. Daily we see protests about it along the Olympic torch run, and I wonder why we don’t hear more protests here in Malaysia. The Olympic games lend an excellent opportunity for the world to pressure China to do better in its treatment of others.

Some say that such a move is politicising the Olympic games when they are only about sport. But I beg to differ as there has always been a political element in the games. That’s why countries fight so hard to host them; so that they can show off their might and economic wealth on the world stage.

That’s why these games mean so much to the Chinese government today. From the moment they were granted the right to host the games, it has been a political issue for them. It’s not really about having a good natured contest between countries.

It’s about showing off economic clout, national power and glory. Good sportsmanship, peace and harmony are a very distant second. It’s China’s coming out party and they don’t want anyone to rain on it.

If China continues to go down the path of repression and violence, I don’t believe I can honestly turn on my television set and watch the games. It would be like taking part in a glamorous party while crowds of people outside are beaten, jailed and tortured.

It simply sickens me that we can go on with these games as if nothing is happening. Which to me is giving China the message that it can continue to have it’s cake (persecuting others or support persecution) and eat it too (world influence and ascendancy).

It’s as though that many countries and athletes in the world are saying that it doesn’t matter how China conducts itself as a nation, we will continue to support them and applaud them. I sincerely hope that heads of state will boycott the opening and closing ceremonies and that athletes will take a stand and not participate in the games.

It’s definitely a sacrifice on their part, but it sends a strong and clear message that human life is valued above fame and glory. If there are other ways to apply pressure, then we should do so. Nothing will change unless there is some pain on the part of the Chinese government. A loss of ‘face’ along with economic pain just might be the catalyst to make a difference in the lives of those who face persecution daily.

I used think it was a mistake that China was given the chance to host the games, now I believe it’s a golden opportunity for world to make a difference. If we miss this opportunity, it frightens me about what things China might demand of or take from the rest of the world as they gain more economic and military might.

I’m not so sure I want a country like China to become a world power if they continue to believe that they don’t have to shoulder any of the responsibilities that come with being a world power. Do we really need another world power with the potential to abuse the rest of the world?

Fire on the roof of the World

Sim Kwang Yang in Malaysiakini

Judging from some public commentaries and private conversations among Malaysians of Chinese ethnic persuasion on the issue of Tibet, more than a few of them have embraced the monolithic narrative of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) hook, line, and sinker.

According to them, the Tibet upheaval is a matter of law and order, a series of riots by criminal elements among the local ethnic Tibetans who have been organised, trained, supervised, and probably funded by the Dalai Lama’s government in exile. In this tale, the Dalai Lama is en evil liar who would stoop so low as to tarnish the image of the Beijing Olympics just to further his cause of independence for Tibet.

This official narrative will also accuse ‘Western media” like the BBC and the CNN of trying to spread lies throughout the world about the PRC and the Tibet issue, in order to give their political masters a leverage over the PRC in all kinds of international negotiations.

Meanwhile, the whole media machinery in the PRC from the official Xinhua News Agency, the People’s Dailies, to the various CCTV stations will bombard the international airwaves with the real “facts” about China and Tibet.

Why many Malaysian Chinese will embrace such an account so uncritically is curious in itself, but that is not my concern for the moment. My central question is this: how are we going to make sense of the Tibet issue at all?

Proud coming-out party

First, we must have a standpoint, a perspective from which we can examine the whole controversy. I suggest we have to forget for the moment that we are members of any ethnic community, and forget that we may have cultural, historical, or even social relation with any nation-state of the world. This would be after the fashion of what John Rawl’s would call his “veil of ignorance”.

When we look at China thus, we find a member of the international community of nation states, fast emerging as the third largest economy of the world, with military strength to match its economic prowess, and with obvious aspiration to become a top-notch superpower of the world. The Beijing Olympic Games is their proud coming-out party.

We also find a one party state with hard totalitarian rule by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over her 1.2 billion citizens. Like all totalitarian one party states past and present, the ruling party is equated with the government and the state.

Naturally, any criticism of the government or the ruling party is regarded as an act of treason in China. As I write, news has just reached us that the dissident Hu Jia has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison. His crime consists of giving interviews to foreign press and publishing a few articles purportedly criticising the government.

It is an understatement to say that there is little freedom of expression in the PRC. Strict censorship and the ubiquitous secret police are probably the norms.

Patriotic Chinese nationals and their sympathisers in the global Chinese Diasporas may argue that human rights and freedom of speech are not what China needs. They may further posit the view that given the convoluted historical background of modern China, their large territory, and their very complex demographical composition, they need a strong centralised government to hold everything together. The benevolent dictatorship of the CCP is the key to the economic miracle of the PRC in the last three decades.

That may, or may not, be entirely true. It does not seem that this argument can be true for eternity. But I would not get into an argument about this point, yet.

One obvious difficulty with the lack of freedom of expression in China is both immediate and critical on the issue of Tibet though.

Natural fairness

With no alternative or independent media reporting from Tibet, how are we going to verify or falsify the Chinese official version of what has happened in that relatively isolated province sitting on top of the roof of the world?

Unlike passionately patriotic Chinese citizens and their sympathisers throughout the global Chinese Diasporas, people like me around the world cannot take the words of any government in any country on their face value on mere trust alone.

There must also be many people like me who subscribe to some notion of natural fairness. In any quarrel, wither between two neighbours, or between any government and some of their people, the views of both contending parties must be given equal time and equal space in the media. The party accused of wrong doing must then enjoy their natural right for full reply in their self-defence.

That the media is dominated by the ruling BN coalition in Malaysia is the reason why I and my friends in Malaysiakini have been labouring and chiselling away at this bamboo curtain of unfair reporting. If the newly formed Pakatan Rakyat turns out to be as bad as the BN, I am sure we will also criticise them without fear or favour.

In the case of the Tibet crisis, is it not a little strange that we have heard nothing at all from those parties allegedly doing the public protests and the rioting? Is it not strange that even when a group of foreign media organisations were invited to a guided and rigidly orchestrated tour of Tibet recently, monks were still risking their lives to scream for justice for Tibetans in front of foreign cameras?

If you want to find out the other side of the story, you can go to the internet, and simply type “Tibet” on http://www.google.com. There you will find other versions of the Tibet story, especially events leading to the escape into exile of the Dalai Lama in 1959.

On March 12, 1959, when protesters marched through the streets of Lhasa, demanding Tibetan independence from Chinese rule, Chinese troops moved in. According to the Office of Tibet in London, 86,000 Tibetans were killed that day. In the days that followed, thousands of monks were executed or arrested, while many monasteries and temples were destroyed.

The overseas Tibetan websites also give many accounts of the intervening decades since then describing how the mass migration of Han Chinese into Tibet has made the Tibetans a minority in their homeland. They have described how the PRC efforts to assimilate ethnic Tibetans into the Han culture have endangered their ancient religious, social and cultural legacies.

These stories are the other side of the Tibetan coin that we hear so little about. They may or may not be entirely true, but they give us balance in our view of the current situation in Tibet. They raise the question of whether the Tibetan disturbances in recent weeks are riots or rebellions. They raise doubt that perhaps the disturbances there are not merely criminal acts threatening law and order, but courageous acts of political statement.

Much respected

Meanwhile, we have the Dalai Lama declaring that he is not seeking independence of Tibet from Chinese rule. Rather he is hoping for some degree of autonomy. He has repeatedly requested for some kind of dialogue with the Chinese government, but they seem to have brushed aside this proposal with a great show of contempt.

All along, the Dalai Lama has propagated his idea of non-violence in this political impasse. He is much respected outside China. Why, he has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and of all things Western, the Nobel Award is one of the more credible institutions to the non-Chinese world. To paint him as the head of a terrorist organisation may work in the closed society within the PRC, but such demonising propaganda is a little hard for me to swallow.

The ocean of official statements and public opinions issuing forth from Mainland smacks of Cold War rhetoric. Their tone and the argument are coarse, displaying a kind of outdated worldview that borders on the hegemonic.

Lastly, there is this argument about Tibet being the internal affair of China, and the outside world has no business pitting their nose where it does not belong. I am thinking of the holocaust in Germany during WWII. Could the Nazi regime then also make a similar claim, morally?

The hard fact is that we live in an inter-connected world. China is gaining influence on the international stage. The Chinese political-economic juggernaut is spreading its wings to all parts of the developing world, scouring the globe for precious fuel and natural resources to satisfy its ravenous hunger for economic growth.

The PRC is also clamouring for a bigger say in international forum such as the many agencies of the United Nations. With greater prestige and power, comes greater responsibility, to answer to mankind for their handling of the Tibetan dilemma, and a whole host of other issues. Like all other nations on Earth, China cannot claim absolute sovereignty,

China may have looked like a First World nation in her cities like Shanghai and Beijing. But under the veneer of modernity in the coastal developed provinces, China has not yet stepped over the threshold of a Third World nation, if the handling of the Tibet crisis is anything to go by.

YES or NO? The CHOISE is yours, Myanmar voters

 YES or NO?

The CHOISE is yours, Myanmar voters

 

Malaysiakini, The power of choice Yoga Nesadurai

There are many management theories in the market place to help organisations and individuals improve. I would like to introduce a fundamental theory that is very powerful and easy to apply but often overlooked. I am talking about ‘choice’.

Webster defines choice as, ‘a selection, an alternative, the right or power to choose’.

It comes down to a very simple step – to act or not to act on the choice.

 

It represents a verb, an action, thereby giving the chooser the power to choose from a selection or if just two, an alternative.

What it ultimately points to is that the power is with you.

To make a choice, we need options.

There are times when we have no options and therefore the choice is automatic.

But in most cases we do have options available to us and I want to work through the deduction process here.

Evaluating options

Now that we have deduced options, what does evaluating our options involve? :

It requires courage and commitment to act on your choice.

 

This is the ‘locking in’ step in the ‘power of choice’ process.

This is where courage comes in. No matter what the response, I still hold on to my original intent or choice – the courage to stand by my offering and the commitment to follow through with action.

Information or an event is the stimulus that makes us take action. There are various stimuli that present themselves everyday to us. Between the stimulus and our response, lies choice!.

Attitude is our ‘way of being’ or ‘steady state’. Generally, we are all aware of our general attitude towards people and situations. Sometimes due to circumstances, like having a bad day, our attitude could vary from its natural ‘steady state’.

Where information is the stimulus that helps us derive our options, attitude is the component that helps us make the choice from our options. Attitude is therefore an important ingredient in the choices we make. It has a huge impact in making our choice and its consequences.

Making great choices

We have all made unwise choices at some point in our lives.

 

  1. It is sometimes inevitable,
  2. sometimes intentional,
  3. sometimes regrettable
  4. and sometimes transformational.

Inevitable choices are where the alternative is not a viable option. This is a case where an organisation needs to downsize, assuming all other avenues have been explored. In this instance the best thing one can do is to carry this out in the most humane manner with honesty and integrity.

Intentional choices are where you know that the alternative option is the wisest option, yet you intentionally choose the opposite option. In organisations, this is when we may bypass a certain process or person intentionally for various reasons. Or where we circumvent a certain procedure because we have the power and privilege to do so. Corruption is a classic example of the latter

Regrettable choices are where at the point of making the choice you are ‘aware’ of what the wisest choice is, however your steady state or way of being at that moment stops you from acting on it. These are usually choices made when emotions are running high, where you regret your choice as soon as have you made it or regret the choice as the words have left your mouth.

How many of us have been in this situation in the workplace and personal life? The power is still in the chooser’s hands to undo the wrong and recover the situation.

Transformational choices are what we should all be aspiring to achieve. In this instance, we take control and are accountable for making great choices. Accountability means taking responsibility for the choices made.

Even if you have made an unwise choice, you are in control to remedy it or to deal with the consequences. It is a big responsibility to be accountable, but one with many rewards when executed.

Learning to make transformational choices gives us the power to be extraordinary, therefore directly impacting you as an individual and the organisation that you represent.

Choice is an active process. It is the difference between a customer continuing to do business with your organisation versus taking their business elsewhere. Use it wisely.

 

YOGA NESADURAI is founder of O & C Advisory, which focuses on choice as a basis for leadership and organisational development and executive coaching.

 

 

My comments and advice to all the Burmese 

 

Yes the choice is yours_

There is a saying in Burmese that:

  1. If you made a wrong choice in trade (wrong choice of cargo) trip you would lose one trip or one time only.
  2. If you made a wrong choice in choosing the husband, you would lose your whole life. (Because usually Burmese practice monogamy and rarely divorce and have another marriage.)
  3. But I wish to seriously remind all of you by adding another phrase_

If you all vote wrongly in the coming referendum, the future history of our country would be gone to dogs.

Sorry for using the harsh words, proverbial jokes and defamatory jibes applied to the dogs. It may be an insult to the dog-world, who are known to love and loyal to its owners.

But Myanmar Military or Tatmadaw do not love its owner Burmese people and is not loyal to its owner, Myanmar Citizens or Pyi Thu in Burmese. Although the dog would be willing to sacrifice its life for the master Myanmar Tatmadaw is always willing to sacrifice its masters for its selfish greed of power.

Be careful, think twice before voting. This is not just an election, which consequence would for one term of government only.

This is the referendum to rubber-stamp the continuous dominance of military dictatorship in Burma/Myanmar forever…

Daw Suu, 88 Generation Students, NLD, Ethnic Minorities and opposition leaders of all the religions and races had sacrificed a lot: in the jail, tortured, some away from home and country and many had sacrificed their lives.

  •  What are you waiting for?
  • What are you scared of?
  • Are you not willing to make a minor sacrifice for your country, your race, your religion, your family, your relatives and for your future by taking a small risk of voting NO?
  • Don’t be intimidated by threats of the SPDC affiliated thugs.
  • You have shown your courage in 8888 revolution and Saffron Revolution.
  • This courage to vote is nothing when compare to the above revolutions.
  • If all the people or most of the people vote NO, what could they do?
  • Nothing at all!
  • They cannot arrest, torture or shoot and kill million of voters.
  • Just say NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! by voting NO in the coming referendum.

May you kindly allow me to refer back YOGA NESADURAI’s advice.

Please courageously make a Transformational choice by voting NO to transform our country from poor military dictatorship to truely progressive democracy.

Transformational choices are what we should all be aspiring to achieve. In this instance, we take control and are accountable for making great choices. Accountability means taking responsibility for the choices made.

Even if you have made an unwise choice, you are in control to remedy it or to deal with the consequences. It is a big responsibility to be accountable, but one with many rewards when executed.

Learning to make transformational choices gives us the power to be extraordinary, therefore directly impacting you as an individual and the organisation that you represent.

Choice is an active process. It is the difference between a customer continuing to do business with your organisation versus taking their business elsewhere. Use it wisely.

 

 

 

 

History repeats itself: the fall of the Myanmar Military Dictators

History repeats itself:

the fall of the Myanmar Military Dictators

30 April 1975 was the day that Saigon fell. And it fell because the government did not have its fingers on the pulse of the nation. 30 May 2008 may be the day that Senior General Than Shwe — and therefore SPDC as well — falls after getting a beating on 8 May 2008.

Modified and edited the article, “Back to the future: the fall of Saigon revisited” by DYMM Raja Petra Kamarudin  in the Malaysia Today’s THE CORRIDORS OF POWER chapter.

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

Saigon finally fell on 30 April 1975 after a protracted war that saw countless lives lost.

The fall of Saigon was not about superior firepower because that is exactly what the Vietcong did not possess. If anyone had superior firepower it was the vanquished, not the victor. But in a mere three days the superior Americans were sent packing back to Washington with their tails between their legs.

The fall of Saigon and eventually that of the entire Vietnam can be attributed to one fundamental problem.

  • The government was in denial mode.
  • They did not understand what the real problem was
  • and they failed to recognize that the army no longer had any will to win.
  • The war against communism can’t be won with guns alone.
  • The people must also have the desire to reject communism.
  • This was the secret of the British success in its war against the Communist Party of Malaya.

The British realized that the government cannot win the war against communism or communist terrorism.

  • It has to be the people themselves who must want to reject communism.
  • To achieve this, the British embarked on a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people.
  • It can’t be a war of guns or of superior firepower.
  • It has to be a ‘war’ of winning over the support of the people.

This was what the British saw. But this was not what the Americans saw. So Malaya sustained while Vietnam fell.

The present SPDC Myanmar Military government took the route of the Americans rather than that of the British in the coming referendum and general election.

  • And the May 2008 referendum and the general election later would prove what a disastrous route this can be.
  • Myanmar Military thought it had superior firepower and it threw everything it had at the opposition.
  • But where the opposition lacked in political power, military might, government machinery, money and media control it more than made up for in strategy.
  • And where the SPDC government failed, the opposition succeeded.
  • And where the opposition lacked in ‘firepower’, it compensated for by winning the hearts and minds of the voters.

So all of us vote NO in the coming referendum.

Let’s crush the mask of illegitimate government by voting NO.

Let’s prove the whole world and UN that we, BURMESE CITIZENS reject the sham democracy of SPDC Junta.

Let’s free our Daw Suu with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our Ethnic Minority leaders with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our 88 Generation leaders with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our Saffron Revolution revered monks with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our all the political prisoners with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our country with this vote of NO.

Let’s free BURMA with this vote of NO.

 

 

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.

Leadership quality of the Myanmar Military Generals

 Leadership quality of  the Myanmar Military Generals

KJ John | Apr 1, 08

Modified and edited the original letter, Leadership for the times” by KJ John in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that KJ John  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.

True leadership is_

  • the art of setting new directions
  • and then creating the environment for that vision to become possible; not just plausible.
  • Nurturing the right climate for ideas and ideals to flourish

It is just as important as the new directions set.

Follower-ship consequently is_

  • the discipline of acknowledging visionary leadership
  • and the requisite obedience to new and shared directions.

Together they make up what is called_

  • a purpose-inspired life of leadership
  • and follower-ship.

Peter Vaill, my doctoral chairperson, calls this ‘Managing as a Performing Art’ (also the title of a book).

Frankly, both models are only partially relevant under current conditions of rapid, turbulent change; when small ripples become tidal waves of change being washed in, and without any human ability to control them.

Allow me to give ‘my three sen’ worth of advice to Myanmar Military SPDC leadership on differing styles of organisational leadership models that appear to be practiced.  

Unfortunately, within Myanmar Military Generals, the current models of leadership and managing are what I have in the past referred to as ‘cat or dog loyalty models of blind obedience’.

As the Burmese saying goes_

Yae Boo Pauk Tar_ Ma Low Chin Boo.

Yae Par Dar Bae_Low Chin Dae.

Yes! In the Military_

  • the leaders never accept the excuses.
  • Orders must be obeyed and fulfilled.
  • Rank and file must be willing to sacrifice their lives on the line of duty.
  • Soldiers must be like robots.
  • If the owner/handler/player click the button, whether right or wrong button, the robort must obey like a character in the video-game.
  • No reasoning nor analysis of correctness or morality or religious views of the nature of job or consequences of the order and results need to be considered.
  • Order is order.
  • Do or die in the battle field or face the consequences of punishments or court-martialed.

Because more than 70 percent of the electorate are living in urban areas, the  governance of Myanmar would be decided on modern and urban issues. That is enough reason for a predictable and fundamental change in scenario and landscape of today’s Myanmar politics.

The information age contributed to a fundamental and radical change in people’s expectations and perceptions. Urban voters were concurrently informed, misinformed and dis-informed. But, it appears like no one from the military government either heard or really understood this.  

Today, all of that is water under the bridge in urbanised Myanmar towns. These are so-called developed states in urbanisation terms. The arrogance and abuse of power in most states and local military authorities would ensure the outcome of the coming referendum.

Models of leadership

With this as the context, allow me to reflect on the two most prevalent models of leadership visible within all organisations, whether in the corporate or political world or civil society or in the military dictator governments.  

The one demands what I call ‘the cat loyalty syndrome’.

A syndrome is almost like a theological conviction about a truth that the beholder believes in and expects from the rest of the world.

The cat loyalty model demands the symbolic and implicit obedience and loyalty of a cat to the house.

This model of leadership demands that the person is loyal to the home or the institution that one belongs to, and claims full cat-like commitment to it.  

  • Most cats are in fact comfortable in the house
  • even after the owners move out.
  • They simply can carry on with life even with the new owners.
  • To the cat, that house is its home
  • and there is little or no loyalty to the master or owner of the house.
  • Owners can come and go.

This appears to be the prevalent model of leadership in SPDC leaders, demanding absolute obedience to the Tatmadaw and its current leader. Questions over their morality and ethics are a secondary matter.

The ‘dog model of loyalty’ puts a premium on loyalty explicitly to the master, but not so much to the house or organisation. But the more important question is: who is the real master? If one served long with General Ne Win or Senior General than Shwe, then one must always be almost loyal to them, in spite of differing circumstances or different worldviews one holds.

It is a lifetime personal loyalty to the person and relationship, and not so much to the authority or the position of the person. The result is almost blind loyalty to all instructions of the master and almost zero public disagreement with that person. Any disagreement must be handled in the privacy of the relationship.

Maybe Senior General than Shwe, as a strong military-type, also expects this kind of blind loyalty from all the generals.

Under conditions of turbulence, old-style captains cannot expect blind obedience. Truth is what will help all to move forward. Under whitewater conditions of extreme turbulence, what we need is a newer model of leadership, not that of a calm captain of an ocean-going vessel.

Vaill would argue that all leadership today is currently operating under whitewater conditions. Because of the Internet and the convergence of new technologies, leadership models must change to reflect new realities. He might ask, for instance: What is the real meaning of leadership under whitewater rafting conditions?

Message for Senior General than Shwe:

Robert Greenleaf’s ‘servant leadership model’, which emulates the ‘work with me and not for me’ motto should actually be the right one to replace Than Shwe’s ‘Listen to me, obey my orders’ military doctrine. There were many good speeches and slogans but things were done wrongly on the ground.  

  • Myanmar Military should work with the people.
  • Myanmar Military should work with all the opposition groups.
  • Myanmar Military should work with the NLD including their present leaders including Daw aung San Suu Kyi.
  • Myanmar Military should work with all the Ethnic Minority groups.
  • Myanmar Military should work with all the Religious Minority groups.

Senior General, you need their cooperation, their advise, their blessings to face the whole world. Their experience can tell you the truth about what is happening on the ground.

  • You need to work with them and not ask them to work for you.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to lock them up in the jails.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to lock them up in in their houses as house arrests.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to be afraid to talk to them.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to be afraid to start a dialogue with them, discuss and negotiate with them.
  • You need to work with them  and start a  national reconciliatory process which could eventually protect you, other SPDC generals, families, friends and cronies.

They will not and cannot do this as if you refuse to allow them or rufuse to listen to them or you recognize and respect them as the valuable personalities in their own rights. And they have as much if not more experience to provide leadership under whitewater conditions.

The ‘servant leadership model’ requires one to become chairperson of the board but not try to lead like an Old Captain. The person does not table papers but listens to ideas and steers the discussion towards a consensus decision.

Peter Drucker calls this ‘wise leadership’.

My three sen worth of suggestions for Sr General Than Shwe:

  • Let the people ask any question they choose and encourage open dialogue.
  • Do not protect anyone, let each carry their own weight or sack them if need be.
  • Ask all your generals to sincerely work with you and not for you.

You must start out right with good intentions, by making everyone  in SPDC to declare their assets publicly.

The people will judge you in the coming referendum and election by what you do and not just what you say.

Integrity means both –

  • doing what you say
  • and then preaching only what you have already practiced.

Let me end with a quote from John F Kennedy, who in his first speech as US president said: “Ask not what the country can do for you but ask what you can do for the country.”  

Myanmar Tatmadaw should review both the cat and dog loyalty models, and try to distinguish how every public servant and military official can serve first the public and national interest (defined as the interest of all the people of Myanmar, not just any one group regardless of how we carve the cake).

 

Let us honor our heroine Daw Suu by voting NO in referendum

Let us honor our heroine

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

to be eligible in the coming election

by voting NO in referendum

Modified and edited the original letter, “Let us be like the orchestra respecting the conductor “, by Antares  in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that Antares 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.

As far as I’m concerned, Sr General Than Shwe, the supremo of Myanmar Tatmadaw is deceased. Finito. R.I.P. Kaput. What happened in the Saffron Revolution was a gigantic samurai sword that moved so swiftly that the 10-headed hydra of Might-Is-Right that has terrorized us for the last 46 years lost all its heads.

The SPDC survivors of the Saffron Revolution debacle are all operating in Safe Mode now, their operating systems having crashed big-time. Perhaps the Tatmadaw hard drive can still be booted up a few more times and some useful data saved – but the SPDC motherboard itself is on the verge of terminal malfunction. So let’s not speak ill of the dead.

Anyone who hasn’t been brainwashed by the SPDC cronies (ASEAN, Thailand, China and India) with vested interests can see that in the Saffron Revolution leaders: monks, 88 Generation leaders and NLD have got what it takes to steer this floundering Burma ship back on course. And what it takes is intelligence, courage, stamina, adaptability, good humor, experience, and most importantly, ethical sense. Their resilience has been proven over the last years by his capacity to transmute tragedy into triumph, transforming themselves from victim to victor – all the while maintaining their dignity, clarity, and focus.

Whatever their early passive political agenda, the Burmese opposition of 2007 has been forged in the furnace of personal pains and endurances.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi could have taken the money and run – become an academic or corporate CEO. But she didn’t. She stood up to the Junta Generals and fought like a heroine. That’s how she gained the whole world’s respect, admiration and trust. There are very few in our midst today that I can describe as ‘heroic’.

To my mind nobody can match what Daw Aung San Suu Kyi  and 88 Generation Student` leaders have accomplished: they has led us through the Chapel Perilous of racial politics and now, for the first time since Independence, we can look around and appreciate the beauty of our own diversity and say, Vive la difference!

What has been missing all these decades is the possibility that we can love one another as humans, regardless of skin colour or creed – that’s because cold-blooded ambition and ruthless greed have no use for empathy and warm feelings, nor does it encourage compassion, kindness, and spontaneous joy. No, it feeds and fattens itself vampire-like on fear – other people’s fear.

In the climate of fear Myanmar Military created during their 46-year reign, anybody who dared speak the truth became a hero – or martyr. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi  and 88 Generation Student leaders, more than any other political icon in the country, succeeded in transcending to embody the universal values that will unite rather than divide us as a nation. That is indeed the mark of a hero. Let us honor this heroine (who nearly became a martyr during the Depayin massacre) by giving her what she fully deserves – the chance to serve as prime minister (at least till she tires of it or we tire of her).  

At the same time, let us all aspire to become heroes too, so that we will no longer be scared children in need of a grown-up to lead us across the street. Let us each become, in time, self- governing individuals whose relationship to our political leaders is akin to an orchestra’s respect for the conductor, knowing full well that his job is to create a symphony from the potential cacophony of so many different instruments.

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.

 

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