A New Myanmar in Old Hands
COMMENTARY

A New Burma in Old Hands

Today Burma is a country reborn, transitioning to a new system of governance after about half a century of military rule, but it remains in old hands.

We are marching toward democracy, but in a rather unusual way—let’s call it the Burmese way to democracy. Many Burmese remember the “Burmese Way to Socialism,” introduced in the 1960s by then-dictator Gen Ne Win, who pioneered the first military coup in 1962 and ruled for 26 years with his authoritarian regime.

Under his vision, the country went from one of the region’s most prosperous nations to one of its poorest. When the people took to the streets to protest against the human rights abuses and chronic mismanagement that had crippled the economy, he allowed his military subordinates to assume power, and they crushed the pro-democracy movement. The new junta ruled the country for the next 23 years, until early 2011, when another government, the current administration which is widely known as “nominally civilian,” stepped up to the plate.

It is true that Thein Sein is no longer a general, but he was one of the highest ranking members of the former junta, and his allegiances have not changed. Along with most of his cabinet members, the majority of parliamentary members and the leaders of the armed forces, he is part of a third generation of dictatorship in Burma.

Kyaw Zwa Moe is editor (English Edition) of
the Irrawaddy magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]

Collectively, Thein Sein and other old masters from the former junta, including ex-supremo Snr-Gen Than Shwe, are calling the shots from Naypyidaw, the administrative capital. They designed the roadmap to reform years ago, saying they wanted to achieve a “disciplined democracy.” With this in mind, they held unfair elections in 2010 and pushed through a military-drafted Constitution that continues to be seen as an undemocratic sham. Three years into Thein Sein’s administration, the Burmese people are enjoying more liberties, but the same rhetoric is being used, and disciplined democracy remains the main goal of all leading members of government, as well as lawmakers representing the military and the ruling party.

“We want to have real, disciplined democracy. This is the first time I’ve told the public,” Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, recently told the public in Arakan State, as quoted by Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service. “We really want to become a democratic country. We want to have similar [system of governance] as other countries that have enjoyed peaceful and stable development. We are working to attain it.”

Disciplined democracy is not the kind of democracy that activists had in mind as they fought against dictatorship for so many decades. That is why the real pro-democracy forces in the country, including ethnic minority groups and opposition parties, are desperate to change the 2008 Constitution, or to completely rewrite it. But the president and his men do not seem interested in following through.

In mid-December, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her frustration, threatening to boycott the 2015 election unless the charter is changed. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is a lawmaker with her eyes on the presidency, but the Constitution makes her ineligible because her late husband and children are foreign citizens.

“There is a lot at risk in joining the elections. If we join the elections, we will have no dignity in the eyes of the people. That’s why I urge you not to join these elections unless the Constitution is amended,” the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party told thousands of supporters at a rally in Pegu Division.

Suu Kyi has the influence in Burma to shake up the current political situation if she wants. If she chooses not to contest the upcoming election, the reform process initiated by Thein Sein will face its biggest challenge yet: The international community will put pressure on the administration to change the Constitution.

Changes to the main undemocratic sections of the charter will be necessary if we want to see an election in 2015 that is more free and fair than the election in 2010, which the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won by a landslide, ushering in a so-called nominally civilian government that was neither by nor for the people.

Without constitutional change, the new Burma will remain a faux democracy in the hands of old military rulers.


15 Responses to A New Burma in Old Hands

  1. (Idiot ming aung hlaing, child soldier) said “We want to have real, disciplined democracy. This is the first time I’ve told the public,” Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, recently told the public in Arakan State, as quoted by Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service.”
    Ming aung hlaing’s disciplined are learned from DSA and OTS so those are how to get free-lunch(opportunistic) from all ethnics,how to be jealous to DASSK whose husband is foreigner, how to be killer, murderer, thief, criminal, ethnic cleansing and unfair controlling the power in Parliament (bama military favorism, bamanizattion and Buddhinization).

    • Ko Norman hits the points. I would like to add one point. Disciplined Democracy in Myanmar is just lawless democracy. Real Democracy is not lawlessness. I was in Myanmar for five weeks recently. I was traveling many places including Naypyitaw. Disciplined democracy I saw in Myanmar was actually lawless society. If Disciplined Democracy is lawlessness, USDP does not know what it is doing and talking so far.

    • You are explicitly true. Burma is solely for Burmans, this is their philosophy. They will grab everything for themselves and leave nothing for others Their malady of egomania is incurable and their superiority complex will never fade away. They have lost their sense of humanity and decsended into the state of barbarity which is most lethal than any other weapons of mass destruction. The ethnic cleansing of the innocent and unprotected Rohingyas is a crime against humanity. Justice is solely for Bhuddhists because they are human beings and others not.

      When hatred judges. the verdict is guilty. I like Buddha but I don’t like Buddhists because they kill the innocent people like Rohingyas, Kachins, Chins and Karens. They are not like Buddha.

  2. Yep – you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. So lets have peace through strength by killing the pig.

  3. Shall we dub it:

    Same Old Wine in New Bottles:

    - Bottle One: after a blood less coup in 1962, Gen Ne Win drafted a constitution in 1974 bringing in his army comrades into the Cabinet

    - Bottle Two: Due to this ’74 screw up constitution and a national uprising in ’88, nominal coup by Gen Saw Maung also bringing in his army comrades into the Cabinet

    - Bottle Three: During aftermath of a super typhoon Nargis(2008), Gen Than Shwe drafted a constitution, rigged an election (2010) and bring in his army subordinates into the cabinet.

  4. What is “Disciplined Democracy”? Democracy built on 2008? Burmese way to democracy? Fake democracy, they try to say? Disciplined = Burmese way? Anyway,Kyaw Zwa Moe rightly and simply tells the truth and we the people share his view. Ne Win handed over power to his subordinates and Than Shwe handed over power to his trusted subordinates. Dictatorship has not ended yet but it keeps going on in different shapes and colors.

  5. Maung Lu Aye ( Law ) R.A.S.U 1976

    A New Burma is in Old Hands. Sincererly, I don’t believe that Theory. Generals , Ex-Generals and Some High Rank Military Officials were sending their Children to Abroad for further or Advanced Study. No Doubt that, the Generals or th Military would not give up their Power. One Proper day The Old hands would be replace by their Children’s Generation. Anyhow , I honor & mostly appreciated your Article, Ko Kyaw Swa Moe.
    Late Ne Win had the Road Map for his Military already . Look at 1988 Uprising, he had reserves to replace him like Sein Lwin, Dr. Maung Maung ( Ex-Military Person ), but no other Civilian , which People Support. And Ne Win didn’t care Ex-Freedom fighters for Independence like Thakin Than Tun , his Wife Daw Khin Gyi, Saya Rajan who were died in Poverty without recognizing their Roles as Burma’s Heroes.
    Let’s say,you can only Straighten the Crooked Tail of A Dog , But you cannot Straighten the Rotten Attitutes of Burmese Generals or Dictators.

  6. It’s the way you tell ‘em, innit?
    Speak only when you are spoken to.
    As you were.

    You owe us your independence.
    You owe us the union staying whole and intact.
    Be grateful for us changing our mind about democracy, peasants.

  7. George Than Setkyar Heines

    “It is true that Thein Sein is no longer a general, but he was one of the highest ranking members of the former junta, and his allegiances have not changed. Along with most of his cabinet members, the majority of parliamentary members and the leaders of the armed forces, he is part of a third generation of dictatorship in Burma”.
    TRULY and RIGHTLY SAID as well man!
    And I ADD THE FACT: This so-called THIRD GENERATION of DICTATORSHIP in BURMA has VOWED to COVER the ASSES and ASSETS of the former junta leader Than Shwe STILL PULLING the STRINGS of HIS PUPPETS, in addition to the CRONIES and former and current military figures’ as well today running the show at Naypyidaw, don’t argue man!
    “We want to have real, disciplined democracy. This is the first time I’ve told the public,” Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, recently told the public in Arakan State, as quoted by Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service. “We really want to become a democratic country. We want to have similar [system of governance] as other countries that have enjoyed peaceful and stable development. We are working to attain it.”
    This is BULL TALK ONLY coming out of the ASS of Than Shwe’s CHINA CHOSEN C-in-C of the current BURMA ARMY – no better than a MERCENARY FORCE/PROXY ARMED FORCE – instrumental as well as serving to COVER Than Shwe and his third generation of dictators not to mention their CRONIES’ ASSES/ASSETS today man.
    Have you guys ever heard of DISCIPLINED DEMOCRACY as well?
    I haven’t in all my living more than three quarters of a century of life until today as well.
    Ask him WHAT HAPPENED to HIS PREDECESSOR – Gen. Thura Myint Aung former COMMANDER -in -CHIEF of the BURMA ARMY and his family – and HIS WHEREABOUTS as well today folks?
    Actually and honestly as well, Min Aung Hlaing is also a PUPPET of Than Shwe’s as well since day one until today, don’t argue man!
    He is NO BETTER THAN A HOUND on LEASH of Than Shwe’s at the moment, any bets?
    And Thein Sein is Than Shwe’s CLERK since day one until today, if you don’t know yet as well.
    Shwe Man, Nyan Tun, that ethnic Shan puppet of a vice president including and Chief Ministers appointed to head the governing bodies of ALL ETHNIC LANDS and DIVISIONS in Burma are also holding ALLEGIANCE to Than Shwe and his 2008 NARGIS CONSTITUTION since day one until today.
    “Disciplined democracy is not the kind of democracy that activists had in mind as they fought against dictatorship for so many decades. That is why the real pro-democracy forces in the country, including ethnic minority groups and opposition parties, are desperate to change the 2008 Constitution, or to completely rewrite it. But the president and his men do not seem interested in following through”.
    BINGO man!
    Hence, the 2008 CONSTITUTION SERVES only to ENHANCE the POWER, PROPERTY and INTERESTS of Than Shwe, his family, cronies and the LOT at Naypyiday we PRO-DEMOCRACY FORCES inside and outside of the country not to mention ethnic minorities and opposition parties as well are CALLING FOR REWRITING of Than Shwe drawn Nargis 2008 CONSTITUTION of course.
    Of course Than Shwe chosen president Thein Sein and his men ARE NOT INTERESTED IN much less FOLLOW THROUGH on the calls for MAKING CHANGES IN not to mention REWRITING the UNDEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION as well, that is understandable as well guys.
    “In mid-December, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her frustration, threatening to boycott the 2015 election unless the charter is changed. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is a lawmaker with her eyes on the presidency, but the Constitution makes her ineligible because her late husband and children are foreign citizens”.
    Suu Kyi has her eyes on the presidency of Burma, CORRECT!
    However, her CALLS for CHANGES in the Than Shwe drawn CHARTER are NOT SOLELY CENTERED on her INELIGIBILITY TO STAND for ELECTION ONLY as cited in the constitution.
    She would BOYCOTT the 2015 ELECTION as long as NO REFORMS are MADE in the CONSTITUTION that will CERTIFY/VERIFY IT as a DEMOCRATIC CHARTER where ANY ONE INDIVIDUAL BORN in BURMA, REGARDLESS of ETHNICITY, BIRTH, RELIGION, STANDING etc. is GIVEN the RIGHT and REASON to STAND for PRESIDENT and ANY PUBLIC POST in a FAIR and FREE ELECTION.
    I would like to highlight her speech and point the essence of it as well as the fact: ANY NATIVE of BURMA COULD BE PRESIDENT of the COUNTRY. Period!
    “There is a lot at risk in joining the elections. If we join the elections, we will have no dignity in the eyes of the people. That’s why I urge you not to join these elections unless the Constitution is amended,” the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party told thousands of supporters at a rally in Pegu Division.
    Yes, PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES of course.
    She was LED ASTRAY into the VIPER’S NEST (parliament at Naypyidaw) when she SUCCUMBED to the WILES of Than Shwe led MOB and got elected in the APRIL FOOL DAY ELECTIONS in 2012.
    And she GAVE HER WORD to DEFEND Than Shwe’s BIBLE (2008 Nargis constitution) in public and among the vipers at Naypyidaw as well, remember?
    SHE HAS LEARNED the LESSON and TIMELY as well I should say.
    Now she is UP and ABOUT and IN ARMS as well (PEOPLE POWER no doubt) for THAT MATTER (duped and outwitted by the former junta leader and today dictator at Naypyidaw) today mate!
    ONLY A FOOL/LUNATIC WOULD FALL FOR THAT KIND OF A RUSE for the SECOND TIME in LIFE man!
    And SUU KYI IS NO FOOL nor LUNATIC as well, lest you guys at Naypyidaw forget!
    “Suu Kyi has the influence in Burma to shake up the current political situation if she wants. If she chooses not to contest the upcoming election, the reform process initiated by Thein Sein will face its biggest challenge yet: The international community will put pressure on the administration to change the Constitution”.
    Of course Thein Sein and his mentor would be DRIVEN INTO HISTORY in case SUU KYI CHOOSES TO WIELD HER BIG STICK (PEOPLE POWER in the RUN UP to 2015 ELECTIONS) any bets?
    Personally I SURE HOPE and PRAY SHE SHOWS HER STUFF (wield the big stick in 2014 most preferably as well), DRAW the LINE – no place for former and current military misfits in Burma’s political picture – and ACCOMPLISH HER MISSION – put the country on the road to democracy, freedom, prosperity, posterity etc. – prior to 2015 as well most preferably.
    FAILING TO DO THE RIGHT THING AT THE RIGHT MOMENT ON THE PART OF SUU KYI WOULD LEAVE BURMA IN THE HANDS OF THE OLD MILITARY RULERS practicing a FAUX (FALSE) DEMOCRACY at the moment in BURMA no doubt of course.

  8. People who have concubines and mistresses everywhere are talking about “Disciplined Democracy”. They are launderers of state fund. These shameless people and disciplined democracy are becoming laughable to all of us who know about these corrupt people really well.

  9. Those who attempt to conquer hatred by hatred are like warriors who take weapons to overcome others who bear arms. This does not end hatred, but gives it room to grow. But ancient wisdom has advocated a different timeless strategy to overcome hatred. This eternal wisdom is to meet hatred with non-hatred. The method of trying to conquer hatred through hatred never succeeds in overcoming hatred. But the method of overcoming hatred through non-hatred is eternally effective. That is why that method was described as eternal wisdom. So said the Lord Buddha.

    Saif AK. Hamlet West Arakan . My Ancestral Homeland.

  10. “D-Frock Soldiers!”
    Colour showing ranks
    Gaung Boung,longyi,and body langues,
    attention, at ease etc:
    Deceiving the World In The Name of Democracy
    What a farce….
    In Parliament

  11. As long as the Tatmadaw is in politics , there is no hope of a true democracy.

    We need our Tatmadaw , but it is not in business or politics, if the Tatmadaw is unable to realise this, there is no future.

    Can we hope for a General who has the vision and courage to re-vamp the Tatmadaw that respects basic human rights?

  12. i willingly to say that it is a situation that we ignore ,it us just a questionnable things .why do we make

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