Just around the corner is the auspicious Union Day to be celebrated across the country, and that Nay Pyi Taw weather is cool and serene pleasant as befits the cold season.
Plans are already in place for the Union Day festivities and that the writer of this article who studies law wishes to write about the ‘Union Law’
While there is intense and bubbling interest about the Constitution are enthusiastic in line with the Panglong Spirit I ponder about our country which has drafted and operated under three different Constitutions.
Three different constitutions
(3) 2008 Constitutions
By looking at the dates and years of the adoption of the Constitution one can easily guess the thoughts and outlooks of those times which are naturally reflected in the respective Constitutions.
The first Constitution of the Union of Burma was adopted by Constituent Assembly of Burma in 1947. After the 1962 military coup, the 1974 Socialist (one-Party) constitution came into force. The Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) retain significant control of the government under the existing 2008 constitution.
The area that was called as Salween District in the past must be included as an area of the Union, and that the land must be called as “Kayin (Karen) State”. The areas adjacent to the land where the Karen nationalities (as it was formally called) resided must be incorporated in that state.
(Note: THE CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT ACT, 1951- 4: For the provisions in sections 180 and 181 of the Constitution, the following shall be substituted, namely :-
“180. (1) the territory hitherto known as the Salween District shall form a constituent unit of the Union of Burma and be hereafter known as ‘The Karen State’. It shall also include such adjacent areas occupied by the Karens as may be determined by an Act of Parliament.)
Also known as Gantarawadi, was one of the Karenni States in what is today Kayah State in Myanmar. It was also known as “Eastern Karenni” owing to the location of part of its territory east of the Salween River.
Older names such as Kantarawadi, Balakhai and Kyaigphogyee areas are called Karenni in the past, and that the areas must be included in the union of the country.
Significantly, the 1947 Constitution had the following provision.
PART VI: NEW STATES.
199. The Parliament may by an Act admit to the Union a new State upon such terms and conditions including the extent of representation of the State in the Parliament as may be specified in the Act.
49. The Union is delineated and constituted by seven Regions, seven States and the Union territories as follows:
(a) Kachin State;
(b) Kayah State;
(c) Kayin State;
(d) Chin State;
(e) Sagaing Region;
(f) Taninthayi Region;
(g) Bago Region;
(h) Magway Region;
(i) Mandalay Region;
(j) Mon State;
(k) Rakhine State;
(l) Yangon Region;
(m) Shan State;
(n) Ayeyawady Region; and
(o) Union territories.
50. (a) Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of the Union, prescribed as Union territory, shall be under the direct administration of the President.
(b) If there arises a need to specify areas that have special situations concerning national defence, security, administration and economy, so forth, those areas may be prescribed as Union territories under the direct administration of the President after enacting laws.
Essence of a Constitution DELETE SECTIONS #%$ and 355
354. Every citizen shall be at liberty in the exercise of the following rights, if not contrary to the laws, enacted for Union security, prevalence of law and order, community peace and tranquility or public order and morality:
(a) To express and publish freely their convictions and opinions;
(b) To assemble peacefully without arms and holding procession;
(c) To form associations and organizations;
(d) To develop their language, literature, culture they cherish, religion they profess, and customs without prejudice to the relations between one national race and another or among national races and to other faiths.
355. Every citizen shall have the right to settle and reside in any place within the Republic of the Union of Myanmar according to law.
WHAT MAUNG UPADEI WROTE WAS;
There should be justice for every citizen of the Union in social, economic, political justice and there should be freedom of thought, speech and writing, freedom of belief, freedom of worship, right to livelihood, freedom of association, freedom to organize and freedom of movement.
The1947 Committee was drafted by a committee consisting of 55 members and they include by Bogyoke Aung San. Other members of the Committee included nationalities leaders namely Mann Ba Khaing, Saw San Pho Thin, Mann Win Maung, Saw Ba Yin, Samar Duwar Sinwan Naung, Wah Baw Zaw Rit, Duwar Zaw Lun, U Wan Ko Hall, Mai Pun Saw Bwa Gyi, Moe Meik Saw Bwa Gyi, Nyaung Shwe Saw Bwa Gyi, U Tun Myint (Taunggyi). The formation was based on national unity and also based on Union Spirit.
The Union and State Sub-committee wasformed with Bogyoke Aung San, Maing Pon Saw Bwa Gyi, Samar Duwar Sin Wan Naung, Mann Ba Khaing and (19) others.
Moe Meik Saw Bwa Gyi was the Head of the Committee which consists of 15 members.
Basic Rights Sub-committee
(15) Nyaung Shwe Saw Bwa Gyi was the Head of the Committee which consists of 15 members.
(15) Members headed by Mann Ba Khaing.
This historical background attests to the fact that the Union nationalities in unity and in conformity with the Union spirit without discrimination of the central and peripheral area worked in the Panglong spirit. Their unity is such that they would never to let the egg shells break and the nests be destroyed as the Burmese saying goes.
Democracy Federal Union
The aspirations and goals are to establish a Democracy Federal Union where the principles of justice, liberty, equality, and self-determination are embodied in it.
Based on Peace
For over 70 years due to conflicts where the sound of bombs and artillery boomed, where the nationalities had to suffer the scourge of the civil was the dream for a Union became dimmed. From this we should take lessons by being politically aware and politically be on guard.Instead pf bickering among ourselves we should be more tolerant and cooperative and made progressive steps to achieve our gaols.
Bogyoke Aung San once warned to some of the bickering nationalities that‘you guys are making mountains out of mole hills over small things. For the sake of unity believe only those which ought to be believed. If you do heed my words and continue to be cussed and destructive to yourselves you go ahead. I won’t say anything more.’
The weakness of the [current] 2008 Constitution as well as its strengths need to be considered. The administrative structure of the State and its policies need to be reviewed. It is high time if in fact if it is not already somewhat late to find solutions instead of blaming each other.
Need to review
We have had the experience of drafting three different and three different categories of Constitutions. They are not flimsy experiences. The flames of the civil was cannot fully be extinguished as yet.We should learn our political lessons. Some still mock the Panglong spirit. A few are stating that only they are right. Not getting involved (sitting beside) and saying awkward, cynical statements as the Burmese saying goes. Where then is our goal?
Unity is energizing and it is also a strength. It is also the ‘heart’of the Union. The Union must develop unity and harmony. The (Rule) of law is also the heart of the nation. In order to have a peaceful union the (Rule) of (just) law(s) must be at the forefront. The Constitution is the source of strength of the Union.The Constitution should be a stable and strong wall which would deservingly, righteously lasts for a long time.
The weaknesses and strengths of the Current Constitution should be transparently, candidly, truthfully evaluated in accordance with the wishes of the people. From the land of Panglong the dream for a Union needs to be realized// May the Law of the Union lead to harmony within the Union and all its peoples.
Translated by UMT (Ahlon), edited by Myint Zan