business tycoon, Tay Za (left,
Chairman of Air Bagan and a close
associate of General Than Shwe), seen
here enjoying a toast with Lim Kim Choon,
director general and chief executive officer
of the Civil Aviation Authority of $ingapore
(CAA$), at the launch of Air Bagan's maiden
flight to $ingapore after its arrival at Changi
International Airport on Sep 7, 2007
(AFP). Air Bagan is on the US blacklist.
are talking nonsense. Several ministers and diplomats of Asean
countries warned recently a sudden regime change in Burma could
lead to Iraq-style anarchy with rival factions battling each other
people that ignorant of Burma which itself belongs to the 10-member
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)?
not think of a so-called regime change,'' said Asean Secretary-General
Ong Keng Yong of $ingapore, which could lead to another Iraq.
implies a dramatic power vacuum,'' he said. $ingapore Foreign
Minister George Yeo said the same.
all, Mr Ong and others must know that no one has called for a
regime change in the military-ruled country.
No one says
there isn't a need for the military regime's involvement in politics
and in the day-to-day running of the country. The Burmese people,
including the political opposition groups, all understand the
military has to play a key role in a transition to democracy.
At the end of the day, however, soldiers must go back to barracks
which is their home.
if the junta did collapse, there are many capable people,
including Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders, who can assume
leadership roles in the government.
opposition National League for Democracy, led by detained pro-democracy
icon Aung San Suu Kyi, and despite being a big winner in the 1990
elections, has called for an unconditional dialogue which includes
the military, opposition groups and ethnic parties.
think of a
General Ong Keng
Yong of $ingapore,
which could lead
to another Iraq.
and ethnic groups inside and outside the country have advocated
the same thing.
monk-led demonstrations last month demanded three things: national
reconciliation, the release of all political prisoners and an
improvement in the living standards of the people. Monks didn't
call for regime change, either.
the junta's brutal crackdown against the peaceful demonstrations,
some countries in the West have increased sanctions on the regime,
in hope that it may force the junta to start face-to-face talks.
Everyone is pushing the stubborn generals to enter a dialogue
the ethnic groups? There are about two dozen ethnic insurgent
groups, with probably 17 groups under declared cease-fires. Are
they a unified opposition? Far from it. Are they a hotbed for
anarchy? Far from it. They have as much to fear from anarchy as
fact, anarchy is the best description of Burma's present
state, a military-ruled system of anarchy... For
decades, military rule has proved itself incapable of governing
the country. Burma was once one of the most promising and
wealthiest countries in the region before the military took
power in 1962. Burma is now a prison, and its people are
among the poorest in the world.
ethnic insurgencies are products of the military rule, though
a few rebel groups such as the Communist Party of Burma and the
Karen National Union began their struggles soon after Burma gained
independence in 1948. The 45-year military rule since 1962 fuels
the ethnic insurgency movement. In fact, those ethnic armed groups
- both cease-fire and non-cease-fire - have called for a form
of democracy that would provide autonomy for their respective
states. The hope is that, if granted autonomy, the anger supporting
the decades-long insurgencies would die out.
George Yeo of $ingapore with
Burmese General Thein Shin [left].
This picture was taken in April 2007
when General Yeo was in Burma to
negotiate for sand. Indonesia has
refused to export sand to $ingapore.
junta either can't stop the insurgency movements or it has deliberately
kept the flame of opposition alive to create the impression that
the military is essential to ''protect'' the country from the
threat of various ethnic groups.
may believe that only the junta can control the insurgency movements,
but that is not the case. The ethnic groupings and their dissatisfaction
with the current regime is essentially a political issue.
Even if the
junta did collapse, there are many capable people, including Aung
San Suu Kyi and other leaders, who can assume leadership roles
in the government. However, at the moment almost all potential
leaders are in prison or in exile. And, of course, there are also
ethnic leaders who are ready and capable to join the leadership
as soon as the right conditions exist.
vacuum'' would be filled by new, talented people who are now denied
the opportunity to serve their country. And, need it be said,
with such open-minded people in government a ''power vacuum''
would be an opportunity to replenish the soul of the nation with
fact, anarchy is the best description of Burma's present state,
a military-ruled system of anarchy.
a few examples: the regime uses hired thugs to create riots amid
peaceful demonstrations. The thugs are called ''dutiful citizens''.
They were organised to murder Mrs Suu Kyi in 2003, but she narrowly
escaped. During the 1988 uprising, the then-government deliberately
created a condition of ''anarchy'' by freeing thousands of angry
criminals from the jails across the country. The stooges were
paid to poison several water wells in Rangoon's townships, among
Asean officials really want to help solve Burma's crisis,
they must stop talking nonsense and using scary words such
as ''power vacuum'' and ''anarchy''.
military junta deliberately created conditions for them to loot
factories and warehouses. Then, the coup-staging generals called
it ''anarchy''. Yes, it was state-sponsored anarchy.
military rule has proved itself incapable of governing the country.
Burma was once one of the most promising and wealthiest countries
in the region before the military took power in 1962. Burma is
now a prison, and its people are among the poorest in the world.
for Asean officials to do some serious soul-searching by asking
if they want to be a friend of the Burmese people or a friend
of the generals.
foreign minister, George Yeo, said: ''We must prevent anarchy
in Burma.'' If Asean officials really want to help solve Burma's
crisis, they must stop talking nonsense and using scary words
such as ''power vacuum'' and ''anarchy''.
they urgently need to help stop the state-sponsored anarchy which,
for the Burmese people, is midnight on a moonless night - it can't
get any darker.
Note: The author
is the managing editor of The Irrawaddy Publishing Group, which
publishes The Irrawaddy News Magazine (www.irrawaddy.org).
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Suu Kyi's Unhappy Face