THE Union Peace Conference (UPC)—21st Century Panglong continued into its third day session at MICC-2 in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday with political party representative U Thu Wai, government representative Union Minister Dr Win Myat Aye, Tatmadaw representative Lt-Gen Tin Maung Win, indigenous armed organisations representative Bao Khe and Hluttaw representative U N Hton Kha Naw San as members of the panel of chairpeople.
U Thu Wai said they all agree on the establishment of a federal union in which authorities are delegated for all (states and regions) to shape their own destiny, that there will be diversity in treading on the path to this goal, that this happens so because the attitudes and thinking are different and that it is required to understand (each other) and exercise patience in treading on the path to the same goal.
He concluded that the people and the conference attendees must exert effort to make their country a happy abode and that there is no doubt that all the people are needed to make a collective effort to build a peaceful, developed country.
In the morning meeting of the third day session, representatives submitted their attitudes and opinions to the conference. Representing the Tatmadaw, Col Min Oo said that only when unity of a plethora of indigenous races can be built will Myanmar stand tall amidst the world’s nations, that only when the government is vested with power will it be able to have control over the people and only when the government can have influence over other organisations will sovereignty prevail.
He pointed out that every nation of the world has only one army, that the Tatmadaw is only one army, that the Tatmadaw was born of the people comprising all indigenous races, and it is the one and only union army, that all citizens have to learn military science according to the statute laws and join the military service for national defence and that any and all indigenous races who would like to join the military service to contribute to national defence of their own will are always welcomed.
NMSP’s representative Naing Han Tha said that when the name of the federal union is made the Federal Democratic Union of Myanmar, either Myanmar, Bamar or Burma in English language will refer only to Bamar, which is just one of the national races.
“This being so, I think we need to choose another name which will be representative of all indigenous races and suggest the equality of all of them.” said Naing Han Tha, adding that the federal democratic union Hluttaw will be composed of two cameras—the Senate and the House of Representatives—both of which shall be vested with equal legislative power, that any proposed bill shall be submitted to Hluttaws for separate, independent voting, that the federal democratic Union Hluttaw shall convene Hluttaw sessions according to the prescribed procedures, that in case of the arising of the need to cast votes for decision, the proposed bill shall need more than half of the votes of both Hluttaws, that necessary committees shall be formed with Hluttaw members to provide support for the enactment of laws by both Hluttaws and procedures should be formulated for the implementation of this system. If the Hluttaw is unable to approve either the whole or part of a bill already passed by the other Hluttaw, a joint coordination committee should be formed with representatives from both Hluttaws to find a solution.
Next, U Tun Naing from the Kokang Democracy and Unity Party said that Kokang region is still suffering from the consequences of conflict and so, Kokang indigenous people are especially desirous of peace. It is, therefore, suggested that in addition to considering the interests of ethnic people residing in the hilly region, emphasis should be placed on the interests of Bamar brethren from the mainland. We need, he said, to draw a lesson from the 1988 affair which rose from negligence of the interests of people of the basic stratum. (As known to all) this sort of affair can arise and have adverse effect upon the current peace process. Last but not the least, he expressed his wish for the remaining three armed groups to be able to participate in future conferences of this nature to be in accordance with the all-inclusive policy.
Afterwards, the Tatmadaw representative Lt-Col Zaw Oo said that excessive demands on the part of the armed organisations for political assurances and preconditions as well as for recognition of unlawfully obtained management, administration and economic opportunities are the main obstructions that delay the peace process and that the indigenous armed organisations and political party organisations, in effectuation of stability, peace and development of their respective regions and states, are required to follow upon the correct path of multiparty democracy as chosen by the people as well as upon the political path paved by the Union Peace Conference.
Khu Oo Reh of the Karenni National Progressive Party discussed calling for a collective administration system to be used for townships where different national races are living and stressed the need for equal rights in all states. He also highlighted the importance of protection of the rights of the people to prevent power abuse in the states and by members of the Union to ensure a strong federal democracy. He said that it is required that Myanmar exercise direct-democracy through referendums on decisions of the state parliaments. The powers to deal with foreign affairs, production of currency notes, posts and communications, defence, the judiciary, social welfare and industry sectors should be granted to the Union government.
Sai Htay Aung of Tai-Leng (Red Shan) called for the creation of a Red Shan State formed with Myitkyina, Moehnyin, Bahmo, Kamti, Tamu, Kalay, Mawleik and Katha districts where Red Shan nationalities are living, pointing out that federal systems of other countries allow for the creation of new states for ethnic minorities.
Col Zaw Win Myint, Tatmadaw representative, called for sooner implementation of the DDR/SSR process and completion of the peace conferences within 3-5 years. He stressed the need of strict adherence to terms and conditions of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement by the NCA signatories. He pointed out the Section 10 of the Constitution that says no part of the territory constituted in the Union such as Regions, States, Union Territories and Self-Administered Areas shall ever secede from the Union. He asked that the entire people, including ethnic minorities, cooperate with the Tatmadaw that plays a central role while maintaining the defence and security of the country.
U Hsin Wa of the Kachin Independence Organisation said that national and state parliaments should be vested with legislative powers and members of the federal Union must have a right to deal with taxation, environmental conservation, narcotic drugs, birth and death registration, energy projects and development undertakings, exploitation of natural resources, foreign investments, broadcasting, banking and insurance businesses, property transfer, provisions for university and vocational training schools, river and coastal matters, criminal and civil laws, trade, immigration and legislative power when they are able to.
U La Nang Bawk of the National Unity Party elaborated on four policies— equal rights, democracy, socio-economic development and self-determination— regarding national races, saying they are basic principles for establishing a federal Union.
U Min Zin suggested the forming of a group of intelligentsia to draw up a charter for a new Union based on freedom, justice, equality and self-determination, saying that it is required to realise two visions— state-building and establishing an identity for the Union.
Sao Khun Sai of the Shan State Progressive Party expressed his hope that the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference will be able to realise the national unity plan developed at the 1947 Panglong Pact. He stressed the need for equal rights, calling for the formation of a Bamar state to guarantee equality in the Union.
Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein of the Democratic Party warned that there can be no economic growth if peace is impossible. She stressed the need to focus on economic growth and development while seeking ways and means for achieving peace.
Mar Tee Ya, an ethnic representative, made suggestions for the development of specific regions and states which are home to ethnic minorities while implementing the peace process.
In his discussion, U Tun Zaw of the Arakan National Council said that ethnic minorities are taking up armed struggle to fight for their fundamental rights, adding that successive authoritarian governments failed to settle the problems through political means.
Nan Khin Aye Oo of the Kayin People’s Party suggested that legislative powers, judicial power and the power to enact laws be granted to a state government elected by ethnic minorities in Kayin State. She also called for resource sharing, adding that economic development brought about by rural development will be able to support the country’s peace process.