The third conference in 13 years held in Chiangmai on Shan State constitution had resolved yesterday that the country’s largest state should work for federalism both inside and outside the state.
After 5 hours of deliberation on the 9 constitutional guidelines adopted in 2007, the 39 participants from Kachin, Kayan (aka Padaung), Lahu, Lisu and Shan armed movements and civil society organizations had reached the said decision.
The new 10 guidelines are:
· To participate in forging a genuine federal union
· To create a federal structure within Shan State
· Right of self determination for Shan State
· A democratic decentralized administrative system
· Sovereign power derives from the people of Shan State
· To guarantee equality among the Shan State’s ethnic nationalities
· To guarantee ethnic minority rights
· To guarantee basic human rights and gender equality
· To practise a multi-party democratic system
· To be a secular state
This was a far cry from the first conference in 2000, when participants were divided on the question of Independence as proposed by the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the second conference in 2007, when the hardliners barely softened its stand by agreeing “To be a member state of a genuine federal union.” (“It means if the Shan State doesn’t think there is a genuine federal union, it won’t join,” Khuensai Jaiyen, the outgoing President of the Shan State Constitution Drafting Commission elaborated.)
The RCSS/SSA had, since the signing of a ceasefire with Naypyitaw on 2 December 2011 to embark on a nationwide political dialogue, replaced its “Total Independence” call to “Right of Self Determination.”
President Thein Sein later (1 October 2013) called the agreement by all major armed opposition groups not to secede from the Union as the achievement “I value most”.
The 3 day conference, formally titled “The Third Consultation on Shan State Constitution”, is due to end today with the election of a new Shan State Constitution Drafting Commission/Committee.
For the first time since 2000, more people from inside the country are expected to join it.
The state constitution movement was started by the late Chao Tzang Yawnghwe (1939-2004) who said: In a genuine federal union, all states have their own constitutions. The first SSCDC was headed by the late Sao Hseng Serk (1935-2007). It has already produced 2 drafts.