Betrayal of General Aung San’s dream


(EDITORIAL) This is the first time in a generation that Myanmar has a chance of a free vote to elect their rulers. Last Sunday’s election and the rush to tally the votes is setting the scene for a transition, one that – as this magazine goes to press – remains unclear.

In simple terms, Myanmar will be stuck in limbo, not just right now, waiting for the election results, but also waiting for the vote on the next president.

Clearly, whatever the concerns on the rocky path to a more democratic Myanmar, patience is called for. The country has endured over half a century of dictatorial military rule plagued by a litany of mismanagement, corruption and human rights abuse.

But while many might argue for patience, darkness will not magically turn into light. Rather, the wheels of change are turning, even if frustratingly slowly, as the military men make the changes they know they need to make in order to be fully accepted on the world stage - and to save their own skins.

There is some irony in the fact that a number of former men in green were recently on the election trail flashing their reformist credentials when, in fact, they ought to be facing charges of crimes against humanity. When the history of this era is written, it will be noted that the purveyors of slave labour, jailers of activists and political opponents, and the commanders of military attacks on ethnic groups were not brought to book for their crimes. For those keen to pursue justice, this will be a disappointment, not helped by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s professed “love of the Army” and her overt reluctance to seek retribution, despite her mantra of sticking to the rule of law.

But it is not just the crimes of the past that need investigation. It is the chilling fears being voiced today by the disenfranchised religious and ethnic groups that fear that even if the opposition National League for Democracy were to win the election this may not lead to a dramatic change in their fortunes.

Dark forces are at work in Myanmar, a country that has suffered so much misfortune for so long. What is clear is there are forces at work behind the scene that are seeking to pit Myanmar’s inhabitants against each other in pursuit of political gain.

This is a disgrace and a betrayal of the dreams of Suu Kyi’s father, General Aung San, who sought an inclusive society where people of every belief and cloth are treated equally. If the independence hero was alive today he would be shocked and disappointed.

This is not to put the blame at his daughter’s door. Suu Kyi is a politician who has to work within the system to bring change, even if this means the short-term dumping of minorities – religious or racial.

For some, the widespread euphoria over a Suu Kyi electoral win is tempered by the bitter sense of betrayal that some minorities palpably feel over her failure to allow them “freedom from fear.”

Failure to tackle this divisive disease that is gripping more and more people in Myanmar is bound to end badly. 

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