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COMMENT ON 'RENEGADE MPS' COMPLAINT (r)
- Subject: COMMENT ON 'RENEGADE MPS' COMPLAINT (r)
- From: drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 22:47:00
POSTED 20-MAY-99, 6:00AM
COMMENT ON THE "RENEGADE MPS" COMPLAINT
Recently, there were reports of three MPs complaining about the NLD
leadership's approach towards dialogue with the junta. The NLD
leadership branded these MPs as the "lackeys" of government. These three
MPs reportedly send a letter to NLD CEC, with the signature of 25 other
MPs under detention. The CEC of NLD(CRPP) in response have issued
statements 23, 25(4/99).
Since this three MPs were just released from the government detention,
there is small possibility of the MIS orchestrating the letter. More
likely scenario is these MPs made their own initiative to write the
letter to the CEC of NLD while they were in detention and, then MIS let
them off the hook. From what I have read from CRPP statements, it's
clear that MIS, at least, has facilitated the three MPs in collecting
more signature from their colleagues.
ACCOMMODATING OPPOSING VIEWS
In a democratic organisation, it is nothing wrong for people to have
different views and to express them in a legitimate way. The
responsibility of democratic leadership is to evaluate the political
contents of those views and accommodate appropriately. On one hand, the
leadership of NLD have the right not to disclose every details of their
plan for negotiation to the subordinate members. However, it is
appropriate to make the public known regarding general direction of the
movement. As in any political movement, the leadership can then drag
along the rest of their members and supporters.
In the opposition movements, the leadership must be even more carefully
listen to the dissenting views of colleagues and taken into
consideration whenever possible. Former opposition members should
equally be treated, whenever possible, simply because of their previous
commitments. Sure, some democracy supporters become frustrated or
dispirited or simply couldn't cope with events over the time. However,
these people and their views to some extent are still deserving of our
careful consideration. Unlike pro-government organisation, such as USDA,
the unity of opposition groups such as NLD are not based upon rewards
and privileges. To maintain the unity of an opposition group, the
leadership, perhaps, could only reward their own members with dignity,
respect and honor. Leadership carefully listening to their views and
taken into consideration is to be considered as part of this process.
ANYLISING THE CONTENT OF THE COMPLAINT
>From what we have read from newsthreads (NB: I still have not had the
original letter of these three MPs), there are two main point raised in
that letter: (a) general lack of progress by the movement (b) the
"inflexibility" of NLD-CEC over the negotiation. Following is my
assessment of the letter:
(A) GENERAL LACK OF PROGRESS BY THE MOVEMENT
"On whoever the responsibility rests, it is evident...that the NLD has
not been able to solve even a segment of the problems faced by the
people."(Three MPs: AFP, 12-May-99)
On this note, we -the prodemocracy campaigners- have to recognise we
haven't been able to provide improvement to the situation of the people
inside Burma. This point is hardly to be seen, or be taken, as criticism
to the NLD leadership. It is the truth the pro-democracy forces cannot
practically deliver goodness to Burmese people and we all know about
the obstacles. No one should overlook SPDC/SLORC is making obstacles on
our every initiative, such as operation of independent and impartial
humanitarian organisations, to improve situation inside Burma.
Surely, everyone doing politics or striving for democracy would like to
see and show results. But in politics, things tends to move slowly and,
even for those who can wield enormous power, reaching to tangible
results are few and far between. Unfortunately, the criticism for lack
of progress is unavoidable for almost any leadership in this field. Even
activists at the grassroots level cannot escape from such criticism. We
have often been ridiculed or, at best, been ignored by unsympathetic and
cynic people. However, in the best tradition of opposition and
activists, we must continue to march forward with our plans.
MOVEMENT'S PRESSURE ON JUNTA
Although Burma democracy movement is still unable to improve everyday
lives of the people inside Burma, it has been quite successful in
limiting power of military junta. For example, the junta no longer have
the power to send its delegation or foreign minister to EU-ASEAN
meetings; it cannot obtain necessary loan from IMF, World Bank and ADB.
Junta is totally isolated and is diminishing in the eyes of
international community. SPDC/SLORC can no longer call-upon the
supports particularly of Japan and Germany as the leadership of those
countries change their stance on Burma. The commercial firms from South
Korea have also halted their operation since last year. Even China,
after the period of Asian Financial Crisis, appear to have restrained
their commercial activities within Burma.
Then again, the junta still have the "power" to freely arrest opposition
members. I would rather term such power as "evil-power" because it
rooted in the junta's lawlessness. This kind of exercise in junta's
power can be likened to criminal activities such as child-abuse: a
totally unfair treatment to the weak and defenseless. We are quite
frustrated on this matter because people from outside could do very
little to help release those MPs.
(B) INFLEXIBILITY OF BOTH SIDES
"to have a dialogue, both the Government and the NLD must show
flexibility and the willingness to compromise." ...... " NLD's decision
to convene Parliament on its own has itself become a big obstacle to the
holding of a dialogue" (Three MPs, ASAHI, 28-APR-99)
It is quite true both sides still need to show some flexibility to
achieve negotiation. From SPDC/SLORC part, they must not continue
avoiding the negotiation with NLD. From the NLD's part, it still does
not clearly state it wants to share power with ruling junta. The
possible model for sharing power has been put forward since early 1998.
Although NLD-CEC have constantly call for a dialogue in a vague terms,
they have not mention anywhere about sharing power. By changing this
stance and stating clear objective to share power, the NLD can gain
Firstly, all other NLD-MPs, outside observers as well as SPDC/SLORC do
not simply know where the CEC of NLD stands on the issue of power
sharing. It may as well have been the case that the CEC of NLD want to
settle this matter only when the negotiation starts. However, unless the
CEC of NLD say anything about this, who is to know ? The CEC of NLD
should make known of their stand on power sharing issue. If such step
isn't taken, NLD intention to compromise is unclear and that the NLD
leadership will continue to be criticised as being inflexible by fellow
MPs. Such NLD putting their position on the table even before
negotiation will not necessarily be interpreted as a sign of weakness,
but to be viewed as transparency of democratic leadership.
Secondly, by clearly stating its position to share power, the NLD will
be able to enhance international credibility. This is because in
international politics, either be an opposition or a government, the one
who making initiatives to promote peace, stability and (politically)
just outcome will win more support.
NEGOTIABLE AND NON-NEGOTIABLES
Upon stating its willingness to share power with junta, NLD should
rejoin constitution drafting process, under the supervision of
Commission on Human Rights, and continue with its call to convene
parliament. SPDC/SLORC, on the other hand, should clearly understand
about the difference between "convening parliament" and "declaring
parallel government". "Forming parallel government" is not one and the
same thing as "convening parliament".
The CEC of NLD insisting on substantive dialogue with junta leaders (Gen
Khin Nyunt, Gen Than Shwe) must be commended. This is because, in the
past, the SPDC/SLORC used the meeting with NLD leaders as propaganda
tool. For example, on the eve of visiting UN Envoy or if there are signs
of international community hardening mood, such meeting is used to
soften international criticism. Therefore, NLD should not ventured into
such suggestions as "low-level talks" etc. The best way, I believe, is
NLD putting their compromise right on the table and move forward with
We cannot blame NLD's call to convene parliament for current political
impasse. As recent summary from Burma Info(India) show, these MPs have
been calling to convene a parliament since the time they were elected.
On the one hand, the SPDC/SLORC should not demand the dismantaling of
CRPP. These are simply the non-negotiable issues.
Since the September crackdown on NLD and especially after the death of
Michael Aris, there has been the lack of friendly atmosphere to foster a
dialogue. I believe it is nothing wrong for NLD leadership to begin to
"break the ice" with military leaders. (The CEC of NLD should perheps
invite SPDC/SLORC to a lunch; or send some goodwill gifts to General
Khin Nyunt and General Than Shwe etc.) There are various initiatives
that the NLD leaders can take in this regards. I think, some of these
MPs probably means the lack of such innovative approach towards dialogue
as the inflexibility of NLD leadership. In this respect, the NLD
leadership may have to take the "Gandhian Way" of humbleness combined
with gentle persistence.
>From the NLD(CRPP) leaders biography, we can see that these people have
once served their country, with their distinguisned career, for many
years. Many of them even have experience in the independence struggle.
We have no doubt about these leaders will go through thick and thin of
the democracy struggle.
SPDC/SLORC have been requesting non-humanitarian, economic aid from
international financial institutions such as ADB, World Bank and IMF. It
insists also that there must be no string attached. However, any
international economic aid will require approval from US Congress and
US Government. The USA is not likely to pass on any economic aid without
approval of Burmese democrats. Junta also knows for themselves that
Japanese Government is also not in favour of delivering economics
assistance at this stage (for example, we have the information that the
junta's delegation to Japan last January were thoroughly humiliated at
the meeting with Japanese House Councillors). The only way to move
forward for both side is to make compromise on political front.
There is no dispute by anyone, SPDC/SLORC or NLD or international
observers, about the need for humanitarian assistance to the people
inside Burma. It is also possible to deliver such assistance independent
of the military and political opposition. The main problem regarding
with humanitarian aid is those humanitarian organisations to get the
unhindered access, of which it can be arranged by the approval of UN
Security Council. Our policy chase at the United Nations on this
humanitarian front is still continuing. However, the SPDC/SLORC leaders
can voluntarily give such access, as a good-will gesture, to the
With best regards, U Ne Oo.
AFP: BURMA JUNTA WANTS NO STRINGS ATTACHED TO AID
14 May, 1999
RANGOON - Burma will not accept international aid if it has political
strings attached, such as a dialogue with the prodemocracy opposition
led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a junta official said.
Junta spokesman Lt Col Hla Min said international agencies including the
World Bank had not officially offered Burma non-humanitarian aid in
exchange for reconciliation, but he understood such ideas were being
"They [the World Bank] have not officially come out with anything like
that, but by reading through the media we have a feeling that there is a
carrot with a hidden stick," he said late on Wednesday.
He was referring to reports last year that the World Bank was
considering offering Rangoon US$1 billion in development aid in a
trade-off for talks between the junta and the opposition National League
for Democracy (NLD) party.
The NLD won the 1990 elections with a landslide but has never been
allowed to form a government and has been locked in a bitter political
feud with the military authorities ever since.
Diplomats here said the aid-for-talks idea had been floated last year
but was now "in limbo". They said no formal offer had been made and the
one billion dollar figure was speculation.
"There are some people, particularly in the United States, who won't
have anything to do with this government at all," one source said.
Burma's economy has been stripped bare by regional economic crisis and
Western sanctions, with foreign investment well down on the levels of
the early 1990s when the junta opened up the country following years of
HIa Min said help was not welcome if it was conditional on changes to
the country's internal affairs.
"We will never take anything if there are strings attached," he said.
"It's much better to stand on your own feet if you believe that the
assistance is not sincere."
AFP: OPPOSITION DIVISION EXPOSED IN BURMA
Date: 17:32 12-May-99
News Analysis by Stephen Collinson
BANGKOK, May 12 AFP -- Dissident MPs have exposed splits in Burma's
opposition but analysts say years of distrust have so poisoned political
life that their call for talks with the junta has little chance of
They call by a small group of renegade MPs of Aung San Suu Kyi's
National League for Democracy(NLD) evoked a furious reaction from the
The MPs, elected in the 1990 NLD election landslide which the junta has
refused to recognise, were nothing but "lackeys of military
intelligence," the NLD charged.
The MPs had colluded with the government to sow disunity in the party,
The ferocity of the attack surprised many observers and diplomats in
Rangoon, who said it further highlighted divisions in an opposition
badly disabled by a junta crackdown.
A Rangoon-based diplomat told AFP it was impossible to say if the call
for talks was made at the MPs' own volition, as they insist, or was the
product of intense pressure by intelligence agents.
"It is very difficult to analyse the siutation, it's hard to know if the
initiative of the dissidents is genuine, if they are popular," said the
HOwever, many in the diplomatic community in Rangoon are sceptical as
the group of MPs linked to the appeal, which was sent to the leadership
tow weeks ago, had recently been in detention, he said.
What is clear is that not all those who count themselves as opponents of
the military government agree with the NLD's hardline approach.
In a statement obtained by AFP, one of the three instigators of the
letter, NLD MP Than Tun, denied conspiring with the government and
implicitly questioned party tactics.
"I was elected by the people not because I would nod and acquiese to
every matter but rather that I would strive for attainment of democracy
with the least hardship for the people within the shortest period," he
"It is evident that the country is now under a more rigid governing
system than the former BSPP governing system" which ruled under dictator
Ne Win from 1962 to 1988, he added.
"On whoever the responsibility rests, it is evident...that the NLD has
not been able to solve even a segment of the problems faced by the
Diplomats say dissent has been slowly guilding within the NLD for some
"There is truly a problem, and it has not just emerged overnight," said
one, who added that the leadership's furious reaciton to the challenge
appeared to indicate a new, harsher attitude.
Another diplomat also detected a more autocratic line coming from the
party's top echelons toward dissent.
"Any political organisation has to have some discussion. It's common
knowledge that ther ahve been some difference of opinion within the NLD
for a long time," he told an AFP reporter in Rangoon.
"But the Burmese have a long tradition of autocratic rule from the top
and the NLD is a Burmese organisation led by Burmese."
Few analysts, including some who think the NLD's refusal to deal with
the military government is futile, believe that Nobel laureate Aung San
Suu Kyi has lost support in the country.
"The government is doing its best to dcrack it (the NLD) up," said the
"Nevertheless, I don't think there is any doubt that she (Aung SAn Suu
Kyi) is immensely popular."
Even had party leaders been convinced by the appeal, Burma's fractured
political climate is unlikely to permit even low-level talks soon, said
"There is no room between the two (NLD and the junta) for a different
approacy, for independent dialogue--there is complete stalemate."
The government says it is always ready to speak to the NLD, but refuses
to sit down with Aung San Suu Kyi, whom it regards as a puppet of the
West. NLD leaders say dialogue is unthinkable without her.
The case of the dissident MPs, led by a core group of Tin Tun Maung,
Than Tun and Kyi Win, is not helped by the fact that the letter was
released soon afdter they were released from a government "guest house."
Analysts say there have been many cases during the government's
crackdown on the NLD in recent months of members being forced to sign
repudiations of support drawn up by intelligence agents.
In addition, Than Tun is understood to have been expelled from the NLD
about two years ago for refusing to sign a mandate giving the central
committee authority to acto on behalf of the party.
Sources in Burma say that only around 90 out of an original total of
382 NLD MPs elected in 1990 are still claiming affiliation to the
The rest have either died, are in jail or have distanced themselves from
teh party, they say.
(Extract from a Japanese language article appearing in the ASAHI
28 April 1999 made by Mr. Ryotsuke ONO, Bangkok, 27, April, 1999 )
It is learnt that a signed declaration, requesting their party to have a
dialogue with the Government, has been submitted to both the Myanmar
Government and their own NLD party as well, by 25 Opposition Pyithue
Hluttaw Representatives who were elected in the 1990 Multi-party
Democracy General Election. In their declaration, they state that, " to
have a dialogue, both the Government and the NLD must show flexibility
and the willingness to compromise."
They go on to point out that " NLD's decision to convene Parliament on
its own has itself become a big obstacle to the holding of a dialogue,"
and criticize the NLD Central Committee's action. This is the first time
in Myanmar that such a group of 25 NLD Hluttaw Representatives has
released a signed declaration blaming on its own party.
The signed declaration, issued on 26 April 1999, was addressed to one of
the Government leaders Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt as well as to NLD chairman U
Aung Shwe. Those signing the declaration include a well-known lawyer U
Tun Shwe and a prominent NLD "woman sub-committee" member Daw Khin Aye
The declaration first states that " Under the pressure of the Myanmar
Government, NLD party members have resigned from the party ..(and) ..
some party members have been detained ..." . The 25 NLD Pyithue Hluttaw
Representatives then went on to say that " Prospect for holding a
dialogue have been greatly reduced by the NLD's unilateral decision to
hold a Hluttaw meeting by itself. Therefore we demand that the decision
to convene Parliament on its own be reviewed."
Regarding the declaration signed by the 25 NLD Pyithue Hluttaw
Representatives, diplomatic circles in Myanmar commented: " The
Government seems to have succeeded in urging some NLD Hluttaw
Representatives to issue such a declaration. The NLD has no further
recourse left to it to reduce the political impasse between itself and
the Government. The feeling of being suffocated with no political outlet
is becoming more and more evident among NLD Hluttaw Representatives at
EMAILS: drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx, uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
POSTMAIL: Dr U Ne Oo, 18 Shannon Place, Adelaide SA 5000, AUSTRALIA
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