LEGAL ISSUES ON BURMA NO. 11, APRIL 2002
BURMA LAWYERS' COUNCIL
FEDERALISM IN BURMA
Putting Burma Back Together Again
This paper deals with the absence or the non-existence of a functional relation between the state in Burma and broader society which is also made up of non-Burman 1 ethnic segments that inhabit the historical-territorial units comprising the Union of Burma. 2
Introduction: Putting the Country Back Together Again
The paper looks into the problems related to the task, as yet to be accomplished, of "putting the country back together again", in contrast to the claim of the military and its state is "keeping the country together". It is here argued that although the military has, in a manner of speaking, "kept the country together", it has also distorted the relation between the state in Burma and broader society by monopolizing power and excluding societal elements and forces from the sphere of the state and from the political arena. The military's centralist, unitary impulse, informed by it ethnocentric (Burmanization) national unity formula, has contributed to a dysfunctional state-society relation, that has in turn brought about the present crisis of decay and general breakdown, making Burma a failed state.
The paper focuses on a very crucial aspect of state-society dysfunction or breakdown, this being the dysfunctional relation between the state in Burma and the non-Burman ethnic segments and the historically defined territories they inhabit. For the non-Burman ethnic nationalities (or national groups), 3 the present, existing state structure (or state order) is not what they aspired to or expected in 1947, when they agreed at Panglong in 1947 to live together under one flag. They envisioned a union of equal states, with a center that is federal and constituted by member states working together in a functional and rational manner.
It is noted here that "putting the country back together again" would therefore involve not only the restoration of a functional democratic state-society relation, but also the return to Panglong or its spirit, where all the territories and ethnic segments agreed to establish a union of equal, self-determining states. Nonetheless, because of the long years of strife and the traumatic experience of living under a failed and harshly oppressive state of the military (for the military, and by the military), the task of "putting the country back together" will not be, the paper argues, easy.
The Failure of the State in Burma
By all objective indicators and as measured by the hopes and aspirations of the founders of the country and the people in 1948, Burma (the Union of Burma) must be assessed as a failed country, a failed nation-state. Not only has the promises for democracy and peace not been fulfilled, "killed" by military coup-makers in 1962, the promises made by military rulers of a prosperous socialist society made in 1962 by General Ne Win's Revolutionary Council, and promises of free-market economic prosperity made in 1989 by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), have not been fulfilled.
Instead, Burma remains the poorest country in Southeast Asia and Asia (and of the world as well), and is still torn by strife. The extent of the devastation wrought on the country by a war waged by the regime against the people can be seen from the fact that in central Shan State, the names of villages that are found on maps do not exist on the ground anymore. Vast stretches of fertile and productive farmland, stretching from Khesi to Mong Pan in the south, and west of Laikha and Mong Kung to the banks of the Salween river in the east, have become a wasteland. As a part of its pacification strategy, to sow terror and break the spirit of the people, the military has driven villagers from their hearth and homes in these area and designated them as free-fire zones. 4
Moreover, the military regime has performed dismally, and has not been able even to deliver, unlike their Southeast Asian counterparts, "economic development", or a "strong" economy, which is what military regimes and authoritarian states (of both the right and the left) are at one time, rightly or wrongly, presumed to or are expected to deliver. 5 The all-round decline of Burma and the decay of both civil and government institutions and all public service systems, plus the entrenchment within the state of a military elite, that which is predatory and unresponsive to popular aspirations, makes Burma an excellent example of a failed state.
A failed state can be described, conceptually speaking, as one that is marked by a high level of dysfunction in the interactions and relationship between the state (i. e., the government and power-holders) on the one hand, and other forces within broader society on the other. It is also marked, as a result of state-society dysfunction, by the breakdown of the rule of law, chaos, economic decay or decline, absence of government services, and so on. 6
The Separation and Alienation of the State from Society
Although the devastation of the country, its steep slide into deeper economic decay, and rampant social and other problems can be conventionally analyzed as being owed to the incompetence and ignorance of Burma's ruling generals, internal strife, and/ or "ethnic conflict"— which is true enough, more or less— this, however, is not the whole story.
At a deeper, more conceptual or theoretical level, one can say that at the root of all the misery and general decay in Burma is, as mentioned, the dysfunctional relation that exists between the state in Burma and broader society. A significant portion of this dysfunction relates to the hostility between the state dominated by the Burman ethnic group, and the non-Burman ethnic segments, namely, the Rakhine, Mon, Karen, Karenni, Shan, Kachin, and Chin, plus other smaller ethnic groups.
State-society relation in Burma has been marked since 1962, when General Ne Win usurped state power— by the "separation" of the state, monopolized by the military, from broader society and its aspirations. In other words, the state has been and still is insulated from broader society by the military: societal forces and elements have been (and still are) excluded from the sphere of the state and from articulating their interest and preferences within the political arena, which the military has shut down since 1962. That is to say, society in Burma has been effectively depoliticized by military power-holders, their lives and dreams shattered, and their voices and will ignored and brutally repressed. 7
Ever since the military seized power and monopolized the powers vested in the state and closed or shut down the political arena, state and society in Burma has existed side by side, but locked in a hostile and dysfunctional relation. That is, the military's monopolization of power and its use of the state to advance its own interest has been resisted by societal forces and elements. It can be said that since 1962, society in Burma has more or less been in a general state of revolt against a harsh authoritarian state dominated and monopolized by men in uniform. 8
The first act of resistance against military rule occurred in Rangoon. In July 1962, three months after the military coup, students of Rangoon University staged a series of protests against military rule, and it was brutally put down by gunfire. This brutal act deprived the military regime of any chance it might have had to win over, at the very least, the support of the Burman majority whose interest the Burman-dominated military claimed to protect and advance. Resistance on the part of the non-Burman ethnic nationalities has been particularly pronounced because their vision of Burma, nationhood, and national unity differed markedly from the military's, as will be elaborated in the passages below. The widespread and systemic atrocities perpetrated by the military in the non-Burman states have further aliented the non-Burman ethnic nations to a great degree.
"Burma" in Pre-Colonial and Colonial Times
Like all present-day nation-states of Southeast Asia (and in Asia, on the African continent, and elsewhere), Burma did not exist as a territorial national entity, or even as an administrative unit. 9 There then existed instead (as has been explored by the more perceptive scholars such as Robert Heine-Geldern, among others) 10 a loose configuration of what might be called systems of domination, the "circle of kings", 11 revolving around family and personal ties, shifting tributary relations, and fluid alliances between greater kings, lesser kings, lords, princes, sultans, and so on. 12 The reach of these pre-colonial "states" were narrow and were often mythic or imaginary than real.
The arrival of the British, first to India, then to the area that became Bur-ma, saw the restructuring by the British of the territories they annexed in accordance with the colonial and bureaucratic imperatives, pacifying the natives and restoring order (as understood and defined by the colonial offices and officers). At first, the "Burmese" kingdom was ruled by the British as part of Bengal province. Later, it was made a province of India (in the restructuring of 1920-21). And in the mid-1930s "Burma" was separated from India, and constituted as a self-governing entity (as Ministerial Burma) but under British supervision.
Other parts of what became Burma in 1948 were administered indirectly. Contrary to the Burman-Burmese nationalist myths, it was not the case of the British conquering a unified Burmese kingdom and partitioning it into separate and different parts to keep it weak and divided, in accordance (as claimed by nationalists) with the divide-and-rule colonial imperatives. Pre-war Burman nationalists like U Ba Pe and U Pu, for example, claimed that there was no ethnic differences between the Burman, Shan, Karen, and so on, that all are Burman, and that it was the British that created differences where there were none. At the Burma Roundtable conference in 1931-32, these Burman nationalists raised the issue of reuniting the Frontier Areas and Federated Shan States with Ministerial Burma. 13
Rather, it was colonial and bureaucratic imperatives and/ or expediency at play in Burma as elsewhere in the colonial or colonized parts of the world, to which the phenomenon of Indirect Rule is owed. 14 The remote, not easily accessible areas or frontier lands, whose resources were not easily workable or it was not cost-effective to impose direct rule, were left more or less alone, with local chiefs and princes in charge, but under loose British supervision. The areas that were not easily exploitable were designated as Frontier Areas, which also included the Federated Shan States. 15 The more accessible Irrawaddy lowland (Burma Proper or Ministerial Burma) with its fertile paddy land, a larger population, was more exploitable and was put under direct rule and developed by British and Indian capital (or investments). Thus was Ministerial Burma (and the majority Burman) modernized and developed, becoming part of the modern world economy.
Panglong and the Politics of Federalism
It might be noted that although Ministerial Burma comprised only Burma Proper, i. e., the Irrawaddy lowland, and the rest (of what is now Burma) were separately administered, they were under one flag (the British Union Jack) and formed a single colonial economic entity or market.
Then came the Second World War. The British retreated to India in 1942 and soon returned, recapturing Rangoon in May 1945. However, the British were in no position to re-impose colonial rule being impoverished by the war, and the decision of the new Labor government to quit India made it certain that Britain would have to sooner or later grant independence to other colonies as well.
Therefore, at the end of the Second World War, and with the British withdrawing from its colonies in Asia, the people of Ministerial Burma, the Federated Shan States, and Frontier Areas were confronted with the question of how they would relate to one another in a post-colonial world; whether each would go its own separate ways or live together under one flag. And, if so, how? That is, what kind of country or nation-state would they establish: a centralist, unitary state or a decentralized, federal state, and if it were the latter, what kind of a federal arrangement should they settle on?
The defining moment in the making of modern or the present-day Burma was the signing of the Panglong Accord in 1947. The Accord was signed at Panglong, a town in Shan State, by U Aung San, the supreme leader of a Burman nationalist front, the AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League), and leaders of the Frontier Areas and Shan princes led by Sao Shwe Thaike, who was to become the first President of the Union of Burma. Unfortunately, Aung San was assassinated four months after signing the Accord (in July 1947).
The understanding was that the peoples and leaders of the Frontier Areas would join with the Burman nationalist forces to jointly fight for independence, and that a federal Union (Pyidaungzu, in Burmese) of equal states, guaranteeing self-determination for all ethnic segments, would be established.
The 1947 Panglong Accord is the most significant historically and politically defining document in Burma. It symbolized the coming together of the various and disparate territories and ethnic communities over which the British ruled, and as well symbolizes their bonding together as a new nation-state, the Union of Burma. The Panglong Accord is also politically defining because it represented at that time the aspiration( s) of all leaders, both Burman and non-Burman, to be free, to jointly obtain independence from British rule. The emerging new country or nation-state, the Union of Burma, was envisioned by all, especially by the non-Burman ethnic nationalities, as a union of co-independent and equal national states (pyi-daung in Burmese). In the Burmese language, the word for the Union is Pyidaungzu, meaning "the coming together of national states".
However, the constitution (the 1947 Union Constitution) which emerged was, from the viewpoint of the non-Burman leaders, not federal, but a centralized, or semi-unitary one. 16 It was one where one constituent state, Ministerial Burma or Burma Proper, occupied the position or status of the mother-state (Pyi-Ma, in Burmese). The relationship was one like that which existed between England, the mother state, and Scotland, and Wales. The other seven states were not equal members of the Union, and were at best semi-autonomous, but subordinated entities vis-à-vis the Burman mother-state. 17 Their status and competencies were defined not in the respective state constitutions— there were none— but in sections of the Union constitution which, in essence, was the constitution of Burma proper, the mother-state.
Not withstanding the flaws of the 1947 constitution, its deviation from the Panglong vision and spirit, the ethnic nationalities accepted the Union constitution on the understanding that it could be amended later. Also, there was a pressing imperative to support the government of the day headed by U Nu owing to the danger of a communist takeover. 18
A very crucial intervening factor which complicated politics in the non-Burman areas was the rise of the military as a significant power within the state in Burma. The U Nu's AFPFL, besieged on all sides by communist forces, and as well by Karen rebels who took up arms against what they saw as war launched by the Burmans to exterminate them, became increasingly dependent of the military. In time, the military, as the pivotal defender of the AFPFL government gained more and more political and power leverage vis-à-vis its civilian masters, and it became very powerful.
It soon became in time a state within the state, possessing its own intelligence body which operated outside the law with impunity. The military had its own proto-mass movement, the NSA/ National Solidarity Association (the core of which became the Lanzin or the BSPP party, and the predecessor of the current USDA/ Union Solidarity Development Association). By the mid-1950s, the military also became owners of enterprises, hotels, industries, and in many areas it exercised administrative and extra-constitutional powers, especially in the non-Burman areas. 19
Unfortunately for Burma, the military's vision of national unity was pos tulated on a mono-ethnic, Burman-centric, concept of nationhood, the thrust of which was that all other ethnic groups should be Burmanized. Such a narrow, exclusionary nationhood formula created a lot of problems and frictions.
As unfortunate was the secession clause in the 1947 constitution where the Karenni and Shan State (and for a time, the Kachin State) was provided with this right, which they could exercise 10 years after being with the Union, that is to say, in 1958. 20 The secession clause was meant to underline the voluntary nature of the Union and as well to serve as a guarantee that the Union would be based on the equality principle. However, in order to pre-empt secession, the military embarked on a reign of terror, indulging arbitrary arrests and torture of those illegally detained, extra-judicial killings, rapes, arson, pillage, etc. 21
The extra-constitutional exercise of power and rule by terror of the military resulted in armed resistance in the non-Burman states. The concern felt by senior and responsible non-Burman leaders about armed rebellions led them to initiate a move to amend the constitution (the federal movement) aimed at making the Union more federal in 1961. U Nu's Pyi-daungzu government which won an overwhelming victory at the polls in 1960 agreed to consult with the non-Burman leaders about amending the constitution. It was understood by the non-Burman leaders, including the former first Union President, Sao Shwe Thaike of Yawnghwe, all that a more federal arrangement would be worked out in a democratic, legal manner. 22
For the military, however, federalism was perceived as posing a threat to its position as a dominant and dominating power. A real federal union of states, as envisioned at Panglong in 1947 and aspired to by the ethnic nationalities, would clip its wings, and negate its mono-ethnic, Burman-centric national unity formula. The military, therefore, staged a coup in 1962. This further outraged the non-Burman populace, and strengthened the ethnic-based armed resistance forces in the constituent states of the Union.
The Prospect for a Democratic Federal Order in Burma
With the call for dialogue made by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic movement, the passage of numerous United Nations resolutions in support of dialogue, and the secret "confidence-building" talks be tween the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) held since October 2000, hopes for democratic transition has been raised.
As well, the military junta has been told by the UN Special Envoy, Razali Ismail of Malaysia, and also by Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed Mahathir, that there is no alternative to dialogue, to a negotiated political change. 23 Objective conditions in Burma (i. e. the deteriorating economy, general and widespread decay, and a state that is not only insulated from society, but censured by the international community, combined with the inability of the regime to resolve any problems or offer the people any service or deliver on its promises) point to the likelihood that some elements within the military junta may be induced to go the dialogue and negotiation route is quite high. 24 However, the task of "putting the country back together again", or re-building a functional, two-way relation between the state and broader society is easier said than done, especially in a country like Burma where the gap between the state (monopolized by the military) and the opposition (symbolized by Aung San Suu Kyi, and representing societal forces) is very wide. Fundamentally, there is a large gulf between the opposing camps: on the one hand, the NLD/ Daw Aung San Suukyi and the SPDC are far apart on the question of how to re-integrate the state with broader society, and on the other, the ethnic nationalities and the SPDC are far apart where it concerns the issue of how the ethnic segments and constituent units of the union are to relate to one another and to the state.
The ruling generals are of course opposed any form of decentralization and the concept of a society as a body or collectivity of citizens that is autonomous and that holds the state and power-holders responsible and accountable for their actions is alien. The generals are apparently in deep denial of the destruction wrought by the military state and their over 40 years of failure as rulers, judging from the propaganda in words, print and images manufactured by the junta. It is clear that the military (especially the hardline elements) do not want any kind of transition. The blessing of a failed state for brutal-minded power-holders is that they have the full freedom to indulge in lawless and predatory practices: get whatever they need and everything they want at gunpoint.
The military is also opposed to federalism which was represented by the coup-makers in 1962, as destructive to national unity (or "national solidarity" to use the term in currency), and the movement for constitution reform was condemned as subversive, a plot by secessionists to dismember the Union. Therefore, even if there is a dialogue, the negotiations with regard to the federalism aspiration of the non-Burman national groups (or nationalities) will certainly be tough and full of pitfalls. Al though the Panglong spirit is more or less accepted by all political actors in Burma, even by the military (which has not repudiated the spirit of Panglong, and pays lip-service to the equality of all "national races" [sic]), the devil is, as they say, in the details.
Among Burman political actors and elites, the idea of Burma Proper losing its status and position as a mother-state (Pyi-Ma) is unpalatable. The notion of a federal order where the majority Burman will be placed on equal footing with the non-Burman nationalities, and the extent to which power will, in a federal arrangement, be decentralized, is unsettling; imbued as the Burman elites are with a paternalistic mind-set vis-à-vis not only the non-Burman, but the masses, who are thought of as incapable of governing themselves in an orderly and responsible manner. 25
On the other hand, a large segment of the non-Burman population is suspicious of federalism. This stems from their negative experience with sham federalism, or lack of experience with federalism, in other words. As mentioned, the 1947 Constitution was federal only in name. It might even be said that the 1947 Constitution has given federalism a bad name. Federalism has come to be associated in the minds of many non-Burmese with Burman perfidy and the atrocities they suffered at the hands of Burman/ethnic-Burmese soldiers. Some non-Burman nationalist elements are firmly wedded to the idea that no Burman can be trusted because they are all crafty, too clever by half, and that they will always band together to conspire to destroy the identity, rights, and extinguish the freedom of the ethnic nationalities. The distrust of the Burman has been exacerbated by the atrocities, the rule of terror, perpetrated by the Burman soldiers in the Shan, Mon, Karen, etc. countries. 26 Given the rejection and distortion of federalism by the military and the confusing babble and emotions that surrounds the question of "putting the country back together again", the task will be a very daunting and difficult one, an uphill struggle all the way. Nonetheless, Burma has to be put back together again, and the dysfunctional state-society relation that has pushed the country down the slippery slope of decay and into the dark ages, must be made good again. This is a difficult task, but not an impossible one.
* Professor Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe from Vancouver, Canada, is a participant in the struggle for a federal and democratic Burma. His father, Soo Thanke, was Burma's first independent President.
1. The term "non-Burman" is used to distinguish ethnic groups that do not speak Burmese (the language of the Burmans) as their mother tongue, from the Burman (or ethnic Burmese, or Burmese speakers). In academia, the distinction is made between "Burman" and "Burmese", the latter connoting all inhabitants or citizens of Burma, in the manner of the distinction made between "English" and "British". However, the problem is that the term "Burmese" does not approximate the term "British" because "Burmese" is not ethnic-neutral, and connotes things Burman, such as the language of the Burmans, Burman literature, the dress of the Burmans, and so on.
2. These historical-territorial units forms a horseshoe around the Irrawaddy plains or lowland, the homeland of the majority Burman or the ethnic Burmese. They are, the Rakhine State on the West coast, the Chin State, the Kachin State in the North, the Shan State in the East (and bordering China, Laos and Thailand), and the Karenni, Karen, and Mon State. Although these territorial entities have ethnic names, they are in fact multi-ethnic. Resistance to and alienation from the military regime (or the military state) is also multi-ethnic. For example, the Shan State Army operating in Shan State comprises all ethnic groups in Shan State, although the majority are Shan (or more accurately, Tai or Dai).
3. The term "ethnic nationalities (nation or national groups)" instead of "ethnic or national minorities" is here used because the Shan, Chin, Rakhine are not "minorities" in their states or home territories. In the Burma context, it would be misleading to categorize these nation groups as minorities because they are or can validly claim to be the founding nations of modern Burma (the Union of Burma) at Panglong in 1947 (almost one year before independence was obtained from the British, and modern Burma was born).
4. Free-fire zones are areas which have been declared as "black" or "grey" areas, and anyone found there are regarded by military patrols as rebels or their active supporters. Those caught by military patrols (search-and-destroy teams) are frequently killed on the spot, and whatever found is destroyed or confiscated. Reports of such actions are regularly posted on the electronic news board by monitoring bodies as the SHRF/ Shan Human Rights Foundation, KHRG/ Karen Human Rights Group, and reports are published by the SHAN/ Shan Herald Agency for News, and so on. The forcible draining of the Shan population, forced dislocation, has been well-documented, see: "Uprooting the Shans" (Mae Rim: Shan Human Rights Foundation, 1996). For the dislocation of the rural population in the Karen and Karenni States, see: "Forgotten Victims of a Hidden War: Internally Displaced Karen in Burma" (Thailand: Burma Ethnic Research Group and Friedrich Naumann Foundation, 1998), and, "Conflict and Displacement in Karenni: The Need for Considered Response" (Chiang Mai: Nopburee Press, 2000).
5. Especially in the 1960-70s, military leaders who seized power (and their regimes) were thought of in academic literature as secular modernizers whose training and no-nonsense approach was just what was needed to promote economic development and modernization in the third world. It was a view held especially by political scientists looking at modernization and development in the Latin American context. An example of this kind of work, among numerous others, is, John J. Johnson, "The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962).
6. This kind of state-society relation is "abnormal" in terms of the generally accepted thinking about state-society relation today, but which may be regarded as normal in pre-modern times. One might even say therefore that Burma has regressed in time, back to pre-colonial times.
7. For a discussion on the depoliticization of politics and society by the military power-holding elites in Burma, see: Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe, "Burma: The Depoliticization of the Political", in: Muthiah Alagappa, (ed.), "Political Legitimacy in Southeast Asia" (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), pp. 170-192.
8. For a comprehensive account of the various armed rebellions that afflicted Burma since day one and their convoluted trajectory, see: Martin Smith, "Burma: Insurgents and the Politics of Ethnicity" (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1991). Also, Bertil Lintner, "Burma in Revolt" (Boulder: Westview Press, 1999). The focus of Lintner's book is on the Shan State, Shan armies, and the opium-heroin phenomenon.
9. Edmond Leach provides a very perceptive discussion on the notion of frontiers, boundaries, and states in pre-colonial and ancient Burma, and he criticizes the tendency of most historians of Southeast Asia to assume that "the states they have to deal with were Nation-States, occupied by named 'Peoples' and separated from each other by precise political frontiers". See: Edmond Leach, "The Frontiers of 'Burma'". Comparative Studies in Society and History, October 1960, pp. 49-68. 10. See: Robert Heine-Geldern, "Conception of State and Kingship in South-east Asia".
10. The Far Eastern Quarterly, No. 2, November 1942, pp. 15-30. This is a classic pioneering work, probably the first to deconstruct the textbook histories of national kingdoms (the Burman or Burmese kingdom, the Thai, Cambodian, etc., kingdoms) of Southeast Asia. These histories were official histories that portray ancient kingdoms as national or nation-based kingdoms, well before there were national or nation-states in Europe. Writings on pre-colonial "kingdoms" in Burma that deserve serious attention are: Michael Aung Thwin, "Pagan: The Origins of Modern Burma" (Honolulu: The University of Hawaii Press, 1985), and, Victor Lieberman, "Burmese Administrative Cycles: Anarchy and Conquest" (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984).
11. The phrase "the circles of kings" is borrowed from Renee Hagesteijn's work, in which is laid out and discussed the structures and political dynamics of relationships between greater and lesser kings, lords, princess in the kingdoms of pre-colonial Southeast Asia. See: Renee Hagesteijn, "Circles of Kings: Political Dynamics in Early Continental Southeast Asia" (Dordrecht, Holland: Foris Publications, 1989).
12. For a comprehensive discussion of the "state" systems of pre-colonial Southeast Asia, see: David J. Steinberg, et al., "In Search of Southeast Asia: A Modern History" (Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 1985), especially Chapters 1 to 7, pp. 11-67.
13. Josef Silverstein, "Burmese Politics: The Dilemmas of National Unity" (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1980), pp. 40-44.
14. An excellent collection on colonial rule and subsequent changes or transitions in Southeast Asia, and thoughts relevant to the understanding of the system of Indirect Rule is to be found in Ruth McVey, ed., "Southeast Asian Transitions: Approaches Through Social History" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978).
15. For an account of the organization by the British of their possessions in "farther India" (Burma Proper and the frontier states) and the system of indirect rule, see: John F. Cady, "A History of Modern Burma". Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1958, pp. 135-137. 16. The term "semi-unitary" is used because this term makes more sense than "semi-federal". The "semi-federal" arrangement is by definition "semi-unitary" (but in name, perhaps), or a sham, like the former Soviet Union with centralized control imposed and exercised by the ruling communist party. Unitary states or systems can be very decentralized, where local governments and communities enjoy very wide autonomous powers, but devolved to it by the central government.
17. For an analysis of the 1947 Constitution, see: Alan Gledhill, "The Burmese Constitution". In: "The Indian Yearbook in International Affairs". Madras: University of Madras Press, 1954, pp. 214-224.
18. It might be noted that the Union was at once plunged into a civil war as the communists, their leftist allies, and army mutineers (mainly Burman) rose up in arms against the new government. Outside Burma, China and India were both in a state of bloody turmoil, as were most of the new states of Southeast Asia.
19. For an analysis of the structure and dynamics of military regimes in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand, see: Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe, "The Politics of Authoritarianism: The State and Political Soldiers in Burma, Indonesia, and Thailand". (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia, 1997). See also: Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe, "Ne Win's Tatmadaw Dictatorship". (Unpublished Master thesis, University of British Columbia, 1990).
20. See Chapter 10 of the Constitution of the Union of Burma.
21. The widespread atrocities committed by military personnel especially in non-Burman areas against the non-Burman population is too prolonged, too pervasive, too systematic for such acts to be attributed, one might argue, to indiscipline, even gross indiscipline. For example, not one case of rape by soldiers in the Shan State has been persecuted although rape is a criminal act in the Burmese penal code (as elsewhere).
22. See: "Taunggyi Conference, Meeting Record" (Taunggyi: Shan State Government, 1961).
23. Confidential communication from reliable and highly placed sources in New York, Kuala Lampur, and Rangoon.
24. However, given the precarious equilibrium within the junta resulting in the absence of consensus on dialogue and dialogue strategy, whether the junta will go for a dialogue solution remains an open question.
25. This reflection of the prevailing general attitude of politically aware or active Burman actors is obtained from discussions with Burman bureaucrats, activists, and educated and informed Burmans. On the one hand, they recognize that grave injustices have been done to the non-Burman and ascribe to the principle of equality and self-determination, but on the other hand, when thinking about federalism, they are haunted by a sense of loss, regarding which they are unable to clearly articulate.
26. The above, representing the views and beliefs of a significant portion of politically non-Burman nationalities vis-à-vis the Burman, were obtained from long years of conversations, discussions, debates, communication, and interviews with the non-Burmans. Although many top ethnic nationalities leaders are willing to give the Burman the benefit of the doubt and have worked with them as compatriots-in-arms, most of them have internalized the unpleasant experience of the past and empathize with the negative sentiments of their rank-and-file and the people.