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July 06, 2020

Memoir about Bogyoke Aung San Recounted by A Veteran in Struggle for Independence

  • By Dr Kyaw Kyaw Min

We have already known that Bogyoke Aung San, our national leader is the person of great virtues and he is endowed with the characteristics of a great leader.
In the explanation about leadership qualities in the book titled, “The Path to Leadership,” written by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, it is written that honesty, strengthened morals, courage in action, enthusiasm, zeal, ability to solve problems and astuteness at being well convinced of human’s nature are leadership qualities. These are the qualities of national and political leaders.
Bogyoke Aung San is not only a national leader-cum-political leader but also a military leader, thus he was endowed with virtues of a soldier as written by Field Marshall Montgomery. Obedience or performing duties assigned by superiors perfunctorily, enthusiasm and zealous effort, freedom from immoral ideas, esprit de corps—these virtues of a great soldier can be seen vividly in Bogyoke.
We firmly believe that experiences recounted by grandpa U Sein Pe highlighted that Bogyoke was our ideal of esprit de corps and lack of opportunism. U Sein Pe born in Pyin Sar village, Pyin Oo Lwin township is now 92 years old. Wonderfully enough, he is still healthy and active enough to recount what he experienced in his youth, in spite of his advancing years.
As he had started his learning only in his mid-twenties, the grandpa had to attend at a special class, where he had ever listened to 10 standard-class-teacher Bo Khin Maung Lay come to make a political lecture. Afterwards, he frequently visited Doh Bamar Asiayone, May Myo, still remembering U Pyan was the then chairman of the Asiayone. One day, BIA (Burma Independence Army) came to the Asiayone for the recruitment of new members. Then he joined BIA under the name of Myo Myint. Being sent to Pyinmana, he served under Bo Tun Pe, then to Shangan under Bo Lun Tin. Three months after joining BIA, It was abolished, becoming BDA (Burma Defence Army). At Shangan, he was accommodated at the down-stair of duplex 5-unit apartment. Bo Tun Tin and grandpa lived in a room each, separately at the front part of the first floor, whereas the security section resided at the rear part. Bogyoke and his spouse did live at the up-stair. Then, Bogyoke was said to have been married just 3 months ago.
He mournfully and proudly recounted one of his reminiscences about Bogyoke, “Presently, none but me survived who had ever heard Bogyoke sing. Bogyoke used to sing the first part of a duet, named “Thet Wai/ My Darling” composed by Sayar Myoma Nyein:
“Pole Star falls on to Earth
In the sky, Sun and Stars disappear
Landslide of Mount Meru to nothingness
Even in the midst of these events
Never feel betrayed about my fondness”
Apart from that piece, he never proceeded to sing. It was said to have been sung with the intention of making his return known to his wife. Sometimes, he came into, calling “Kyi, Kyi, Kyi.” When his better-half asked why he shouted such a call, Bogyoke’s only answer was, “I do it as I love you.”
One day, while Bogyoke was reading sitting in an easy chair at the down-stair, grandpa U Sein Pe returned home from outside, entering the house after putting off his shoes hurriedly, with one piece of the pair left behind. At that time, grandpa did not yet attend any military training courses. He put an army uniform, shirt on the upper part, wearing a longyi and slippers at feet. Seemingly he noticed me and my happening, he called me, summoning the other two from the rear part except a soldier taking the sentry duty and explained to us, the importance of discipline.
“Have you ever heard the saying Myanmar lost its throne/ sovereignty due to lack of keeping discipline?” Bogyoke asked.
“Yes, we had ever heard our superiors say,” we replied.
“Of course, King Thibaw was easily taken away by the British because of lack of unity among Myanmar people and failure to keep disciplines. There was no unity within the circle of the royal court as well as the outside world. The British ruled our country under the system, “Divide and Rule,” reigning the nation dividing into main-land and hilly regions. In Shan State, only section 10 was applied. Cases of theft, robbery, cheating, rape and all kinds of crimes were arrested under section 10. Those who would like to be arrested were seized, while those wanting to be freed were released. So, it was an unfair law.,” Bogyoke said.
Bogyoke added, “In the main land, on the contrary, a police-man had to find 3 crime cases every month. Failing that, he was granted freedom from taking actions for first two times. For the third time he had to be fired. In Scotland, the official in authority whose jurisdiction was free from crimes would be promoted. So as to be free from such a kind of governing a country, to be exact, to be free from ruling the country under “divide and rule” system by dividing into mainland and hilly regions, we urgently need Independence.
Only if Independence is achieved, can we draw up a law suitable for the country ourselves. To gain Independence, it is not possible just by learning to know how to use a fire-arm. It is necessary for us to abide by discipline so that we can succeed. That is all I wanted to say. Now, you can go, carry on!” At the end of his saying, he went on reading.
Three months later, grandpa desirous of going to frontier areas for fighting insisted on Bo Lun Tin sending him to attend the military training school. The training period was only three months. On completion of the training, Japanese Lt General Iida and General Aung San came into the parade ground on horseback each, making speeches respectively.
At the start of the training, trainees amounted to much, but there were only 300 left at the end. At the closing ceremony, the trainees were well treated with a square meal, and provided with uniforms, two pairs of boots, a blanket, a towel and a mosquito net each.
One day, Bo Thaung Han asked me to dispatch a letter to Bogyoke Aung San’s residence at Tower Lane. On seeing a man with a mattock in his hand in front of the house, U Sein Pe asked him where Bogyoke was, telling him that he had brought a letter to give Bogyoke. The man bluntly replied, “I am Bogyoke. Give me it.” And he gave the letter to Bogyoke. Being void of any uniforms on his body, U Sein Pe did not recognize Bogyoke well, though he had ever lived in Pyinmana for 3 months together with Bogyoke. On account of getting no words from Bogyoke to go back, while he was waiting for Bogyoke’s order in the rear part of the house, he met with Sergeant Hla Pe, with whom he was acquainted in Pyinmana.
The sergeant was found making 3 fishing rods each for 3 children of Bogyoke, with the first one carrying nothing apart from a hook, the second one carrying a dead fish and the last one carrying with a live one attached with hook. It was intentionally made children happy and fishes were bought from the market. After that, the sergeant placed fishing rods at the side of the lake. On seeing no fish at the first hooks, they were disappointed, with at the second hooks, they were not happy at the sight of a dead fish and at the third hooks they went happy after seeing a fish attached with a hook, shouting happily and noisily.
At the time of PBF (Patriotic Burma Force)’s formation, the grandpa was hospitalized due to suffering from beriberi disease, thence his posting was transferred to May Myo Sapper Miner from Yangon Myaynigone. The then battalion commander is a British named Colonel Stat. During his service in May Myo Sapper Miner, grandpa had chances to meet Bogyoke for two times. At the first time, Bogyoke made a speech at the mass-rally in Nyantaw Grounds in May Myo. After the speech, the feast was set at the present State High School 1. Porcelain plates were placed on the tables spread with table clothes. According to the plan, 4 people were to sit face to face at a table. Being borrowed from various places, tables were not same in size and height.
On a surprise inspection, Bogyoke found cuisines in two kinds: one prepared for the guests and the other kind for special guests. Bogyoke ordered them to mix and stir the fusion of cuisines. Besides, he told to remove table clothes and change banana leaves for porcelain plates, on the pretext that those could not be compensated if broken. On In-phet meant for Dipterocarpus tuberculatus leaves and banana leaves, rice and curry were piled for those present at the meeting to eat. It was said that the people amounted to nearly 80.
At the second time Bogyoke was seen at the up-stair of the two-storeyed building (now State Primary School 4). The prepared feasts—biryani smelled sweet, arousing the taste buds of all present there. Bogyoke climbed up-stairs from the rear stairs and climbed down from the front stairs, greeting guests and telling them to enjoy taking meal freely.
Without taking any meal prepared for him, Bogyoke left for the house of U Than Nyunt, a parliamentarian residing at ward 6 in May Myo. He told U Than Nyunt’s children to buy two dishes of Mont Hin Khar to eat together with the rice, such as it was. After taking meal at U Than Nyunt’s house, he returned.
When asked why he did not take the prepared meal, grandpa replied that Bogyoke seemed to dislike superficial things and excessive care to him.
Bogyoke’s real spirit can be vividly seen in the article titled “The day when Bogyoke burst out his anger,” written by Bo Tayar who was a member of 30 comrades. Here, Bo Tayar’s writing will be presented in brief.
One day, while Bogyoke was in the office room, some lieutenants and the rank and file were criticizing and laughing at uniforms unloaded from a car, they were of great poor qualities and they had never put on such kinds of clothes, the texture of cloth was so coarse that they would be thought to be coolies for Japanese Army, without knowing that Bogyoke was in there. On hearing this, Bogyoke burst out his anger and summoned up all those in the group. Bogyoke shouted at them all of a sudden when they came in:
“What kinds of fellow are you? I heard you all say. Tell me what and why.” Bogyoke asked. Among them one soldier ventured to disclose that they had criticized that the cloth was of great poor quality. At that time Bogyoke shouted them, saying,
“You are bull-like beings. You all are smart with the uniforms, just now. You speak too big enough not to hold in your mouths. When we fought enemies on our way from Siam up to here, you imagine what kind of clothes we wore. It does not matter for us to fight against enemies by girding up our loins with our anatomy shown to all. You betray our fallen soldiers. You traitors! You will be fired out. You ultra-opportunists! While the majority of people did not even a meagre amount of clothing, you would like to wear fine uniforms. What is the difference between you and me? All are the same.”
When they heard Bogyoke’s speech some cried and some apologized.
Here is the noteworthy word of Bogyoke Aung San.
“Be well convinced that if people are starved, we also must be hungry and if people live in poverty we also must be poor.”
Last but not least, I humbly pay great respect and congratulate our national leader Bogyoke and his spirits which is the valuable rarity in our world.
1. Field Marshall Montgomery’s Leadership Qualities (translated by Kyaw Zeya (Pathein)
2. Bo Tayar (member of thirty comrades) the day when Bogyoke burst out his anger
Ngwe Tar Yi Magazine 1966 July
3. Tatmadaw History Records (1) 1942—1945
50th anniversary golden jubilee
4. U Sein Pe descriptions recounted by a veteran in struggle for Independence living in Pyin Sar village, Pyin Oo Lwin


Translated by Khin Maung Oo (Tada-U)


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