Fri 24 Feb 2006
Filed under: News,Opinion
February 18-21: Three months ago, on November 27 2005 Myanmar authorities extended a serving order that has kept NLD, National League for Democracy party leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest by six months. This month on Feb 13 06, detention order on U Tin Oo second man in NLD party was extended by another year. U Khun Htoon Oo and Shan NLD party leaders are now in jails, sentenced to unbelieveable prison terms of half a century and more. The Burmese people are deprived of their political leaders and the fight for democracy is now like a ship without a captain to steer it in the right course.
Aung San Suu Kyi has being kept in her own house on University Avenue, Yangon for the past two consecutive years. She had led the nation since 1988 Democracy uprising in Myanmar, as the leader of the strongest political party and in the process she became the icon of democracy in our country. Majority of the people supported her and her party in 1990 general election and the world nations gave their strong backing especially United States and Britain. She became rivalless in Myanmar political scene ever since two other top political contenders, former Prime Minister U Nu and Brigadier General Aung Gyi, the instigator of 1988 Democracy movement dropped out of the race. U Nu was old in age and failed to set up a strong political party with new generation of qualified politicians. He died in 1995. U Aung Gyi made numerous mistakes in his attempts to gain the number one position. (He is now 87 years old and in a very fragile health condition). Both were not supported by the western powers. So Aung San Suu Kyi was pushed up to lead the nation.
Having one and only leader in a movement has both good and bad effects. On the good side, strong leadership and unity among the members, on the bad side the movement becomes much vulnerable. Once that leader becomes immobile or forced to be inactive by the oppressive forces the whole movement collapsed. That is what has happened to NLD, National League for Democracy party. No one was groomed or prepared to take over the leadership role and the party becomes a rudderless ship, marooned or floating with out a set course.
De-facto government in Myanmar, the Military, realized this vulnerable point in NLD party and detained Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, keeps her locked up indefinitely in her own residence away from her supporters and NLD becomes a limbo.
Myanmar tolerated the political leadership vacuum with great patience waiting and watching the International response to the situation. Every time when the world known figures, such as the ones, Desmond Tu Tu, former Check president Vaclave ?, US senators, British Members of Parliament asked for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, the people cheered with delight in private and waited for the results silently. Day after day, month after month and even year after year they waited. When the viable results did not come, they slump into subdue mood and became demoralized.
In the mean time economic down trend pushed the people to concentrate more and more on family survival struggles. When the Burmese have to take in both Political and the Economic dilemma plus leadership vacuum, it becomes too much for them and decided to give in to the oppressors.
How are we going to solve this political leadership vacuum problem in Myanmar?
It is not easy but it is possible.
Under present circumstances it is not possible to fill the leadership vacuum left by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s absence from active politics by another single individual. No one is nationally recognized as a leader strong enough to do the job. It does not necessarily mean that there are no able leaders in Myanmar to lead the nation. It only means that many of the able leaders do not get opportunities to present themselves to the people and the world. Access to the media, access to the public have been affectively blocked by the de facto government for the past fifteen years that politicians could do nothing to win the people’s confidence and respect. The people also lost the opportunity to make their choice.
There are less than a dozen nationally known able and exposed democracy leaders in Myanmar to day.
This handful of leaders must pool together and form a collective leadership to lead the country in the absence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. These surviving politicians will not take away the national leadership from Daw Su but they would just fill the vacant position as it is necessary to do so. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters must realize this practical aspect of the Myanmar political situation and should try to have understandings and cooperate on this. They could not afford to be stubborn to insist on single leadership in Burma any longer.
World leaders who have so far strongly supported Daw Su and the NLD, National League for Democracy party most exclusively must reconsider their positions. To me it is the time that they distribute their support to Myanmar democratic forces equally and indiscriminately if they are genuinely interested in promoting Democracy and Human rights in our country. No more grooming of individual leadership, no more support to selected group out of many democratic ones. These kinds of political preferential treatments would break up the unity among us and make us weak for sure. That is exactly what is happening to Myanmar political forces now and the international community should realize this.
Ironically, many locals as well as expatriates and aliens across the borders had argued that indiscriminate support to all democratic forces would weaken the movement. They had hanged on to that assumption for the past fifteen years to undesirable consequences. Now many admit it is wrong. We must support NLD as well as other democratic parties and groups. All should unite under one common flag to confront the common foe other wise we won’t have a chance.
The Burmese people had witnessed the negative results of the different strategies tried by the local political leaders and the International supporters in the past fifteen years.
Enough is enough.
We can not afford to make more mistakes for the sake of the suffering people.
We can not afford to have blocking stones on the path to democracy any longer.
We will have to be more generous in our sacrifices and we will have to throw away our egos.
Let us build up a new strong unity among the democratic forces first and then pool our resources together to come up with the strongest political plan to win back our freedom.