THE Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong continued for the second day at MICC-2 yesterday with discussion of delegates to the conference. Following are the excerpts of the discussion at the morning session of the conference.
Speaking as a member of the panel of chairmen, Padoh Saw Kwae Htoo Win said that the attendees will submit the attitude of their respective parties and organisations regarding matters related to the unity, peace, national reconciliation and construction of future Myanmar, that in so doing, their experiences will be different and their aspirations for the future will not be one and the same and that the future of Myanmar has to be built based on unity within diversity and peace.
Afterwards, the delegates expressed their opinions and attitudes. First, Union minister U Khaw Tint Swe, in his capacity as the vice chairman 1 of the 21st century Panglong convention central committee, said that not only during the period of changes in Myanmar’s international security policy but also in the post policy changes period, there shall be the same bases, that co-operation with neighbours for border security is important, that Myanmar’s co-operation will be enhanced for global security, that Myanmar will participate in UN’s peace-keeping activities, that national security policy is needed to be based on democracy with the rule of law as a pillar, that it is needed to enshrine in the constitution the rights of a democratically elected government in order that the national security policy will be based on democracy and that civilian participation in implementation of natural defence and security is to be promoted.
He added that civilian-military co-operation is to be enhanced to be able to strengthen integrated security mechanism, that disarmament, abolition of armed groups and reunification are prerequisites to a peace process, that reintegration of those who were armed previously is needed to serve in the interest of their nation and their people, that peace and sustainable development are intertwined and that the armed conflicts are hindrances to the socio-economic development.
In our building of peace, he said, mere cessation of wars and conflicts is not enough. We need to ensure a long enduring peace and security. We also need to manage resource sharing and profit sharing in an equitabe manner.
Then, Pado Saw Tar Do Mu from KNU said that the sovereign power of future federal union shall be descended from the entire mass of indigenous people, that all ethnic races shall be of equal status in terms of race and politics that clauses which protect the rights of languages, cultures, customs and traditions shall be embodied in the future constitution and that they wanted self-determination in political, economic, social and cultural sectors.
He added that all states and regions should be vested with all three powers and that they should also be empowered to write their own constitutions in such a way as not to be contrary to the federal constitution. Self-determination is to be combined with the federal union and the residual powers shall be vested into the state and regional authorities. Resource sharing and revenue sharing need a mechanism to ensure fair sharing. The system of horizontal equalisation and vertical equalisation will be established to bridge the development gap. In addition, it is needed, he said, to develop new free institutions and strengthen the existing ones to be able to provide funding for socio-economic development. However, in such matters as trade, special economic zones, power lines and super highways, joint authorities with the federal union should be vested.
U Win Htein from the NLD said that when a retrospective look at the world’s history is cast, it will be seen that there have been religious-connected armed conflict in Northern Ireland and apartheid-based conflict in South Africa, and the ongoing armed conflict in Syria which are treading upon a stable political path. And when their ways of solving these conflicts are analysed, they have taken months and years to solve these issues with a great patience being exercised.
It is necessary for the representatives to the peace conference to work together through negotiation until an end to long-standing internal armed conflict is sought. They should be encouraged to brave the obstacles to the peace initiative, U Pyone Cho said.
Regarding the post-ceasefire plans, Pyithu Hlutaw Representative U Pyone Cho spoke of the need to help victims in conflict areas to overcome their physical and emotional traumas and the importance of rehabilitation and resettlement plans to improve their livelihoods.
He also called for curb on forced recruitment on humanitarian ground and respect for the rights of citizens included in the constitution.
Saw Kyaw Nyunt of the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC) described the government’s direct control of land management and natural resources as a challenge for the establishment of a federal republic, saying that it neglects the participation of the ethnic groups in decision making.
He called for the enactment of a law that guarantees the right to management of land and natural resources, the preservation of cultural heritage and an equal profit-sharing in the exploitation of natural resources among ethnic areas.
U Myint Soe of the Union Solidarity and Development Party spoke in favour of the practice of federalism based on geographical locations, calling for justice and equality before the law. He stressed the need for closer cooperation among regions, states and self-administered areas for greater development.
Col Tint Naing Aye said the country’s constitution reflects federalism, citing the equal number of representatives in the Amyotha Hluttaw, which allows 12 representatives each from all the states and regions.
Saw Sein Win of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) stressed the need to meet international criteria in the resettlement and rehabilitation work for internally displaced persons and refugees.
It is essential to make collective decisions at every stage and ensure transparency, accountability and responsibility. Apart from provisions of physical and mental support to those who were relocated and creation of sustainable livelihood for them, there must be issuance of citizenship scrutiny cards without causing impact on local people.
The above-mentioned are basic principles to be discussed in the political dialogue for establishment of a democratic federal Union. If the constitution can be revised, genuine peace will prevail in the new Myanmar, where all ethnic people will be able to live together, he discussed.
Next, Dr Aye Maung of Arakan National Party said that all ethnic political parties and armed organizations, including the ANP, are willing to strive for emergence of a genuine democratic federal Union in unison.
He discussed formation of forces under the management of the respective states and formation of a federal Union Tatmadaw based on states’ forces. He said that the state governments should be vested with full power to manage exploitation of natural resources and to collect taxes except for some taxes related to the federal Union government.
Dr Tin Myo Win, Chairman of the Peace Commission, stressed the need for building a federal system suitable for a country with different social, cultural, economic and historical backgrounds and varied religions and languages.
He highlighted the importance of a concept of working together for establishing a federal Union, suggesting that a future federal Union should be based on the formation of an Amyotha Hluttaw that represents all national races.
“It is imperative to ensure a system that does not allow one national race to influence another,” he added.
Dr Salai Lian Hmung Sakhong of Chin National Front suggested developing a temporary constitution and a federal council in line with the constitution. The federal council should be transformed into a Union legislative body or Upper House (Senate) later.
He called for autonomy for the region of Chin people and collective administration of the Union, saying that a genuine federal system can guarantee democracy, equality and self-determination which are clearly stated in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
“Only when there are no bullies will peace, democracy and sound foundations for establishment of a federal Union emerge,” said Sai Tun Aye of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.
He warned that a strong Union cannot be built by focusing on own interest and identity, pointing out challenges to possible disappearance of own identity.
Daw Wint Wah Tun of the National League for Democracy said her Shardaw Township, Kayah State, has been suffering for over 50 years due to lack of peace in the region. Kayah State still lags behind in development. Despite no armed conflicts today, local people do not feel secure as landmine fields pose a threat to their way of life. Meanwhile, our national ethnic brethren are being held in camps as internally displaced persons due to the evil legacy of the armed conflicts.
We firmly believe that the right policy for solving the political dilemma is through political means as the federal system is based on not allowing secession from the Union and that we can achieve success in building a federal democracy system through political dialogue.
U Kyi Myint of Shan State East Special Region-4 Mongla (PSC/NDAA) said in his remarks that there has not been a single shot fired in the region since 1989 when they achieved peace there, urging other armed organisations to make ceasefire as soon as possible in order to better develop in their respective regions.
We would like to demand the formation of Special Region-4 in eastern Shan State including Nangpan, Mongla and Silue as a Self-Administrative Zone with the demarcation set in 1989, under the direct rule of the Union Government.
We will elect leaders democratically for our self-administrative zone and will report results to the government. In order to effectively enforce the rule of law in our border area, our self-administrative zone should get an independent judiciary system and we will make efforts for socio-economic development within our zone and the government should provide budget allocations for the self-administrative zone.
Mong Win Htoo of Ta’ang (Palaung) National Party said the Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panglong is a politically important event and added that the Ta’ang (Palaung) party is willing to come to peace terms and try for a win-win policy.—Myanmar News Agency
(The discussions in the afternoon and evening sessions of the Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panglong on 1st September will be continued.)