Unity can be achieved with political foresight
- Myanmar has witnessed two significant events in its long and unique history in the month of February. On 12 February, the Panglong Agreement was signed after a mutual agreement was reached with ethnic leaders to ensure freedom across the highlands and central Myanmar. On 13 February falls the birth anniversary of Bogyoke Aung San, the leader who opposed colonialism and fascism and led the charge for independence. Bogyoke’s birth anniversary is also commemorated as Children’s Day.
Bogyoke Aung San took on the mantle of a national leader at quite a young age. Since his schooldays, he had cherished a wish for national independence, which he carried throughout his life. Bogyoke Aung San’s achievements were many, and he was known by several monikers and held many titles — Student Council Leader Ko Aung San, Dobama Asiayone Thakin Aung San, the founder of Myanmar’s Tatmadaw (known colloquially as the father of the Tatmadaw), and President of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League.
A true politician at heart, U Aung San had a great love for his country and made virtuous and tireless efforts for the good of the people. A visionary in his approach, he exercised temperance in his actions.
In his speech at the Panglong Sawbwas’ dinner reception on 11 February 1946, the Bogyoke said: “I want Myanmar to be free and united. We began finding solutions for our freedom and unity ten years ago. And we will continue to do so until we have achieved absolute freedom. What we all need to understand now is we are living in an age where no country can remain indifferent to the rest of the world. All nations must learn to coexist and interact with each other. One of the aims we must adopt is combining the strength of Indochina, Indonesia, and other Eastern countries. While we cannot be on friendly terms with the British in a master-and-servant type of relationship, I hope we can be partners in an equal and free world.”
We can see a glimmer of U Aung San’s political foresight from this excerpt. His idea to work hand in hand with the countries of the world, right as the Second World War ended, echoes a very modern concept on unity that parallels the ASEAN and EU’s organizational integrity.
His thoughts on internal politics were astute as well. “While there will be minor differences in beliefs and perspectives, it is every national’s duty to rally together and drive back foreign oppressors, even at the cost of one’s life,” he said.
“When we go into battle, our commanding officer may be a Kayin, Kachin, or any ethnic national, but we must obey them all the same,” said Bogyoke Aung San.
In the same spirit as our beloved Bogyoke, we earnestly request all entities working towards peace and reconciliation in Myanmar to have the foresight and love for our nation as the architect of our independence had in his heart.