Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Veteran politician refutes state’s interpretation of federalism


New Delhi (Mizzima) – A veteran politician from Shan State, Shwe Ohn, who attended the historic Panglong Conference in 1947, has strongly protested against an article appearing in the ‘New Light of Myanmar’, which says federalism means instigating for disunity among the people.

Mizzima received a copy of his protest letter, sent to the editor of the paper.  

“I have not yet received a response from them. This article is wrong. It’s not true. I want this article to get corrected,” Shwe Ohn told Mizzima.

In the article, entitled ‘With care and with conscience’, written under the pseudonym ‘Ko Thar Yar’ and appearing in the 26th July issue of the ‘New Light of Myanmar’, the federal principle is assessed as a means of sowing disunity among the people.

“They are trying to reincarnate federalism with the intention of disintegrating the state, and they are sowing dissension among the ethnic people. If we start with this federal principle [according to the paper], our country will disintegrate into tiny states, all of whom will certainly become prey to the tiger,” explained Shwe Ohn.

The article goes on to argue, “The precedence of other big sates contains obvious lessons and examples which cannot be denied by anyone. So we should take care of federalism, which has seeds that can disintegrate our union.”

U Shwe Ohn, however, said the article’s premise was impossible and that author Ko Thar Yar was ignorant about federal principles. He further suspects, though it could well be the author’s own opinion, that some external influence was behind the essay.

In his letter to editor he explained federalism in its historical background, stating, “It is very clear that union means the states are integrated and constituted on an equal basis. But in 1948, in the Union of Burma, there was no Burman State and thus it must be a bogus Union.”

He also sent copies of his letter to the daily ‘The Mirror’ as well as Rangoon-based weekly news journals.

In his letter he contends that all ethnic representatives who attended the Panglong Conference seriously discussed the formation of a Federal Union on the basis of equality in politics, self-determination and the right to secession, as they did not want a unitary system.

“The problems of a union cannot be resolved as long as the problems of ethnic people, who are almost 40 percent of the total population, are not solved,” stipulates Shwe Ohn.

In his 311-page, 17 chapter book entitled ‘Let’s build an unbreakable Union’, Shwe Ohn chronicled the migration of ethnic people now living in Burma, the emergence of the Pagan kingdom, the historic Panglong Agreement and finally his views on the constitutions of Burma.

While the work was widely distributed among political activists in 2008, he has not yet received permission from the Censor Board to publish his work inside Burma.

Similarly, the 86-year old veteran politician wrote and published ‘How about a Third Union?’ in 1993 in addition to presenting his ‘8-States Federal Union principle’ to the junta sponsored National Convention, for which he was greeted with a one-year prison sentence.

He has since established the ‘Federal Democracy Alliance’ party, based on democratic and federal principles, in early 2008 in order to contest the forthcoming 2010 general election.


 

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