(Continued from 2nd September Afternoon session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong)
The Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panglong held its afternoon meeting of third day session at 1 pm at MICC—2 in Nay Pyi Daw on 2 September with Tatmadaw representative Major Hteik Tin Cho starting to discuss the policies concerning the internally displaced persons(IDPs).
He said all the NGOs and INGOs should provide assistance with the permission of the government in order that they cannot interfere in religious, social and political matters in the pretext of providing of the humanitarian assistance, that no one is left not provided with assistance, that there shall be no alignment and discrimination, that there shall prevail responsibility and accountability and that the number of IDPs is to be reduced gradually and ultimately done away with at a point of time.
Concerning rehabilitation, the following activities, he said, shall be carried out: providing health care; promoting of education; conducting vocational training courses; taking care of those who have lost their limbs because of the battles and the landmines, those infected with contagious diseases and those suffering from chronic diseases; prevention of trafficking in person; fighting of drug trafficking; prevention of people from forced recruitment (into the armed organizations); building the infrastructure; and promotion of the morale.
Next, U Ko Ko Hlaing representing the group formed of people who deserve attending this conference said that he would like to discuss five main points, that the first point is to end the armed conflicts and that he would like to request all brethren indigenous organizations to sign the NCA and show their genuine cetana (goodwill) or willingness to achieve peace.
Secondly, he said that he believed people all over the nation have a common goal to establish a federal union but when it comes to how it can be built, ways and means should be sought to reach an agreement on amendment, alteration, addition and deletion of the existing institutions like (2008) constitution, the existing laws and rules taking into account the real situations nowadays.
Thirdly, when it comes to resource sharing, we should find the ways and means under which we can share the resources in an equitable manner in order that both the region of source and the union government can earn whereas those regions where resources are scarce should be provided with assistance by the union government.
“In the fourth place, I would like to discuss national defence and security matter especially such a matter like keeping only one army for national defence. And the existing constitution states that there shall be only one army”, said U Ko Ko Hlaing, who concluded this presentation, adding his fifth point. He pointed out that if one looks at the contemporary world, one will see that there have occurred armed conflicts because of racialism and attachment to religious faiths, that there are outside interferences which have torn and tattered the nations having armed conflicts and that the onus is upon everybody to make concerted effort to achieve peace as soon as possible.
Next, Wa National Unity Party representative U Nyi Nat said ‘Wa’ is a genuine ethnic race which has historical traditions and meets the seven-point requirements to become a union-member state. Such being the case, we would like (the government) to recognize ‘Wa’ self-Administrative Region composed of six townships as a ‘Wa’ state to include ten townships from Kengtung region where our ‘Wa’ kings demised. We would also like to request preservation of ancient heritage of Kengtung civilization, and if this is recognized, our ‘Wa’ State Federal Army will, under the leadership of the central government, dutifully protect the entire border in performance of security duty.
Then, Nai Win Kyi, representing the indigenous representatives groups, said there shall be an exact and strong constitution for a federal democratic union, that this sort of union is to be built on the basis of the states, which have equal status and the right to self determination, that there shall be two cameras, which have equal power, that division of power between the states and the union shall be specific, that the federal, democratic union shall exercise the multiparty democracy political system and that there shall also be a constitutional tribunal in such a federal union. He also acknowledged that there shall be only one federal union army and that the state security guards shall be formed under the command and control of the state government.
Afterwards, Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo from the group formed with those who are worth participating (in the conference) said that the security troops shall, in performance of their security duties, be under the civilian command and control, that special emphasis is needed to be laid upon accountability to their national and nationalities and that as the security policies aim at creation of a secure environment, the roles and functions of the security organizations and the security laws and procedures will be required to charge depending upon the time and situations.
She went on to say that the sector of security reform is of atmost importance in construction of a post-conflict country, and that security sector reform is needed to be discussed. She points out that this sectoral reform should include formulation of national security policy and strategy, reformation of security framework, democratic command, control and accountability, defence sectoral restructuring, intelligence and security secotral reform, border area management sectoral reform, police force reform, judicial sector reform and prison system reform.
Afterwards, Naing Chan Twe from All Mon Region Democracy Party said that he opined that at a time when NCA is at a stage of deadlock and battles are still being waged, it is not practical to build a systematic model of a federal union, that he has already submitted the opinion of the indigenous races in the peace conference held in the period of former president U Thein Sein, and that his presentation has already been recorded and so, this should be considered.
He continued that if the political dialogue framework is to be reviewed, our party wants a more expansive role, that as there will take place national-level discussions, awareness should be promoted and seeking of opinion be accelerated, that if time taking is to be interpreted, it is necessary to consider whether to spend time on reformation without essence or to follow a federal union constitution roadmap, and that it is, therefore, needed to be decisive whether to amend the 2008 constitution to look like federal or to write a new one because mere amendment of the existing one will yield only a federal union which is not up to the genuine federal system but just will be a practical one agreed by the majority.
U Hla Tha Tun, an ethnic representative, expressed his belief that closer cooperation through patience and understanding among the stakeholders would yield good returns in shaping the future of the country.
Lway Aye Nan from the group of the intelligentsia stressed the emergence of a new land management law that guarantees land ownership to farmers across the country.
Sai Boe Aung of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party called for adherence to the basic principles included in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), urging the non-NCA signatories to place emphasis on a political culture of round-table talks rather than fighting in order to speed up the peace process. He urged the organisations to accept the fact that their proposals, no matter how worthwhile, are highly unlikely to succeed as long as they are contrary to the constitution.
Lal Hmar Ngaik Zwal Ei, an ethnic representative, described self-administration as crucial to a multi-ethnic country like Myanmar, citing economic, social and cultural interdependence among the ethnic groups residing within the territory of the Union.
Naing Soe Aung of the group of the intelligentsia stressed the importance of devolution in the exercise of federalism by adopting a political culture of peaceful coexistence.
Dr K Rwal Ja of the Unity and Democracy of Kachin State called for inclusion of more women in decision making at all levels in the future peace processes. She also pointed out the need to invite both signatories and non-signatories of NCA and all political parties to raise their voices at the future conferences.
U Than Zaw Oo, an ethnic representative, stressed the need to invite the leaders who can represent their groups and determine their specific roles in the political dialogue. He also pointed out the need to listen to the voices of the ordinary ethnic people instead of making decisions on territories based on what the political leaders said.
U Marcos of the Akha National Development Party said the Akha people wanted their space in the union-level and state-level judicial and executive branches to protect their rights.
U Si Si Naw Ja of the Kachin National Congress Party called for an end to fighting and a start of round-table talks in a democratic way, stressing that the political dialogue should be more inclusive. He also called for the appointment of ethnic commander-in-chief on a rotational basis.
The third-day session of 21st Panglong Conference came to an end with a concluding speech by Chairman U Thu Wai.