Written by U Ne Oo on 1998-11-14
Recently, there have been analyses posted by various pro-democracy groups on the SPDC's new political committee. Here, I share my views on this subjes on this subject with all our netters.
First, whether General Khin Nyunt and the military intelligence group, in form of OSS(The Office of Strategic Studies), will become cooperating faction in Burma's democratic transition. My conclusion is that there is slight possibility of General Khin Nyunt and his intelligence group cooperating with pro-democracy forces in transition. The greater tendency by Gen. Khin Nyunt, however, is to maintain SPDC's status quo and, as the opportunity arises,ity arises, trying to wear-down the pro-democracy movement by co-option and intimidation. Notwithstanding such tendency and provocation, the NLD should, as their best, continue their work for reconciliation and reconstruction of the country.
Although Gen Khin Nyunt himself said something favourably about reconciliation at the 18 August 1998 meeting with the NLD, my concern since that time has been the continuing attacks and vilification of Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese press. The Burmese press simply does not toned down its d down its rhetoric against ASSK and NLD. To my way of thinking, if SPDC/SLORC were to take a proper path to reconciliation, such public attacks must simply be stopped. Since General Khin Nyunt controls the press, it is to be concluded that the attempts to marginalise ASSK's role in politics are still being made by SPDC/SLORC.
It is evident that the Burmese military intelligence is solely responsible for the recent mass detention of MPs and NLD members. The method of interrogating the NLD MPs and all other evidences indicate that the military intelligence is the principal actor in recent crackdown. It can therefore be concluded that General Khin Nyunt and his intelligence faction, in spite of claims of being more moderate, are resisting to make reconciliation.
Our own experience tell us that we cannot expect Burmese generals to simply open their heart and mind and to voluntarily enter dialogue with opposition. As both sides, opposition and military junta, now have the knowledge of the countries' economic and political problems which canical problems which can be solved by means of negotiations. The object of solving countries' dire problems, noble in its aims, however are not quite attractive to the Burmese generals. It is also true, even in countries with strong democratic tradition, the people at the highest-position do not surrender their power without a struggle if the leadership position is challenged. The sure way towards political negotiation seems to be to enhance the legitimacy of democratic opposition and allow the NLD to consolidate some political space.
ACCOMMODATING GEN.KHIN NYUNT AND OSS
Second, the principal objects of the formation of new political committee by SPDC can be two fold: (1) SPDC is creating a softer image of itself internationally, therefore would be spared of more serious political attacks.(2) In the event of SPDC have to enter negotiation --we are making sure that to happen--an escape route is needed especially for General Khin Nyunt and his intelligence group.
As things stand, if an interim government is formed, the current Cabicurrent Cabinet will retain their posts and the NLD will run the legislature. Hence, General Khin Nyunt and OSS will be missing-out on the opportunity to have role in new government. Therefore, the political affairs committee has to be created.
Personally speaking, I view positively about the creation of political affairs committee by General Khin Nyunt, given that initiative is not by SPDC/SLORC trying to confuse international community. This political affairs committee can be further absorbed into forming various committees committees of the legislature to promote policies for the government. The political affairs committee can also be charged to the tasks of verifying policy implementations of the executive branch. It is nothing wrong to suggest General Khin Nyunt, as the head of the new political affairs committee, to become the Secretary One of Executive Branch(Deputy Prime Ministership). Never the less, the open mindedness is still much needed to exercise from the part of SPDC/SLORC.
THE OBSTACLES TO NEGOTIATION
Third, itBR> Third, it IS NOT the reported division within SPDC, but the personal-traits of General Khin Nyunt is responsible largely for the current impasse. It is true that in comparison to other generals among the ranks, Gen. Khin Nyunt uses more intelligent approach to the opponents, i.e. ethnic minorities and civilian opposition. Unfortunately, I do not find a necessary political understanding within Burmese military clique including Gen. Khin Nyunt for such negotiation. Should the Burmese generals had a good grasps of politics, we woulcs, we would have been achieving the negotiations long time ago. Factors influencing the impasse also include (1) General Khin Nyunt's personal grudge against Aung San Suu Kyi (2) the illusion about his political success, i.e. ceasefire agreements and ASEAN membership.
General Khin Nyunt's personal grudge against Aung San Suu Kyi appears to have developed since of 1988 uprising. In subsequent years, serious personal attacks were made, especially through Burmese press, on the subject of Suu Kyi's marriage to a Briton. The casen. The case of Gen Khin Nyunt disowning of his son, who married to a Singaporian lady, is to be interpreted as the reflection of such personal grudge. Some reports alleged, of course, Gen. Khin Nyunt attempting to distance himself from his son's business dealings. It is evident, however, that Gen Khin Nyunt trying to project a 'nationalistic' image of himself in this case.
The SPDC/SLORC's simplistic views about Aung San Suu Kyi also need examining. To the Burmese Generals ways of thinking, ASSK, with this kind of popularityf popularity, will be taking a prominent role in the leadership of NLD. We have seen, however, in the formation of CRPP, Aung San Suu Kyi does not take a prominent role. I think this is a very wise arrangement by the NLD leadership. By avoiding the top leadership position, ASSK can, to some degree, be escaped from political attacks whilst the supporters of ASSK and NLD, both at home and abroad, can still be satisfied with the arrangement.
ILLUSION ABOUT ASEAN MEMBERSHIP
To my view, Burma gaining ASEAN membershAN membership cannot be considered as a triumph for the Burmese junta. The history of ASEAN membership for Burma may went back to May 1993 when ASEAN brokered a deal for certain humanitarian concession from Burma. There is no doubt SPDC/SLORC have some expectation of gaining political clout by joining ASEAN. This expectation, in itself, present a form of delusion because ASEAN grouping doesn't wield much clout in international politics, like European Union for example. Noting also the ASEAN leadership doesn't appears to stick to o stick to strict humanitarian policy line with Burma after granting their membership. Certain tendency by some ASEAN member countries to favour some form of dictatorial leadership in Burma was observed. Never the less, the ASEAN political landscape has dramatically changed since last year and more reformist tendency can now be seen amongst ASEAN governments.
GROWING VEGETABLES? BETTER BE ORGANIC
It is evident that there are no obstacles currently in place for SPDC/SLORC to enter negotiation with the opposih the opposition NLD. All decisions rests with the SPDC/SLORC leadership, especially General Khin Nyunt. As one recent article suggests, the Burmese military generals are preparing to grow their own vegetables for 'self-sufficiency' in case of international condemnation and sanctions. Of failing to suppress these personal grudges and refusing to enter dialogue, we might as well advise Burmese generals to better grow their vegetables of organic ones.
With best regards, U Ne Oo.