‘We Will Fight in Parliament’ say Mon Leaders
Opinion / Analysis

‘We Will Fight in Parliament’ say Mon Leaders

By Azan, Kaowao
July 27, 2010

More than 20 ethnic political parties including the Mon, a minority ethnic group, have decided to participate in the upcoming 2010 General Election, scheduled to take place later this year in Burma. The election’s date, the first multiparty ballot for 20 years, has yet to be announced by the Burmese military government.

In March, 15 Mon community leaders set up the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP) and registered it in June. The party’s leaders say their main goal is to represent the Mon people who will have a chance to vote for their own people.

The party’s main political objectives are to create opportunities for peace and economic development in Mon State, alongside that of self determination, including equality and freedom for the Mon people to retain their cultural heritage.

In an interview with Kaowao, the party’s leaders are daring to hope for a peaceful transition to civilian rule and will stand up for the Mon people at the new parliament in Naypyidaw, Burma’s new capital. There are approximately 3 million Mon people, making up 2 percent of Burma’s population, who mostly live in Mon State, southern Burma.

Dr. Banya Aung Moe, a member of AMRDP’s election committee, says he is worried that he will not be able to do anything for the Mon people in his old age, the reason why he has now decided to participate in the election and to represent the Mon as a political candidate in Mon State, southern Burma.

Struggling against the Burmese military government has become a lifelong commitment for 65-year-old Moe who lives near to Three Pagodas Pass, the Thai-Burmese border. Trained as a medical doctor and a former member of New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Mon’s main armed group, he has sacrificed over five decades for the freedom of the Mon and their culture in Burma.

He often travels to Moulmein from Three Pagodas Pass to meet election committee members, where the main office is based, using his own pocket money he earns from his medical services. “I have travelled frequently on the rough, undeveloped roads between Three Pagodas Pass and Moulmein. When I am 80, I don’t think I will be able to travel like this anymore.

“My family may not have rice at pot at this time. But I will continue to do what I can for my people,” he added.

Moe has different ambitions on Burma’s controversial election from that of his former party, the NMSP, whose members have decided not to participate in the election. The NMSP leaders see the 2008 constitution as hardly representing the fundamental rights and freedoms of Burma’s ethnic groups and who have vowed to continue the fight for freedom, saying they will resort to an armed struggle if their rights are not recognized.

The 15 election AMRDP committee members use their own funds to finance the party’s election campaign, whose newly opened office has neither a computer or related equipment to run a statewide party campaign, says party organizers.  

Nai Ngwe Thein, the chairman of AMRDP, says, “We have no high income earners in our group, many of us are simple government servants with a small income; we can’t save enough money.”

Among the 15 members, 3 are former NMSP members; others are civil government workers: doctors, a university professor, school teachers, and community leaders.

Nai Janu Mon (aka) Nai Ngwe Thein, is a well-known song writer and retired State Education Administrator.  “I want to have a peaceful retirement; I am not interested in politics, but I feel I must join the election because the NMSP and Mon National Democratic Front (MNDF) have decided not to participate in the election.”

The MNDF, a former election party, took part in the 1990 election and won five seats in Mon State. The party was eventually disbanded in 1998 after its leaders were arrested and imprisoned for writing an open letter to the NMSP, commenting on the party’s political stand after three years into the ceasefire agreement, which the NMSP signed in 1995.

Min Soe Lin, the secretary of MNDF says, “We will not join this election because there are too many restrictions on the election laws, so it will not be free and fair if the regime doesn’t release all the political prisoners before it begins.”

Recognizing that the NMSP and MNDF have rejected the upcoming General Election, party leaders highlight the fact that the 2008 constitution has neither rights for the ethnic groups nor democratic freedoms. The AMRDP chairman Nai Ngwe Thein, believes, ‘If we cannot criticize on the outside, it will be up to us to criticize in parliament.

“We can’t criticize publicly if we don’t join the election; they (the military) will arrest us if we criticize from the outside, or we can criticize them in the toilet (in private) quietly,” he mused.

During his election campaign while recruiting members for the party in Mudon township, he faced tough questions from a Mon Buddhist monk from Saneepadaw village, who asked him, “Why are you participating in an election where there is very little political space for Mon in the new constitution?”

Thein answered that even if there is a little political space, he wants to do what he can to represent the Mon. If not, the Mon will not have a chance to work on political issues that directly affect them, according to a video clip from Independent Mon News Agency, based in Thailand.

Last week, the latest move by the AMRDP was to select their election candidates and a commission, followed by the setting up of an election working committee in seven townships in Mon State.

Townships’ election committees are mostly composed of youth leaders, who work for Mon Literature and Culture, teaching the Mon language in the Mon National Schools and are respected persons in the Mon community.

The AMRDP hopes to get a majority of votes from the Mon people from every community and plans to get as many youth involved as possible in the election’s activities.

“My party has had no problem in collecting members to add to the party’s members list, which amounts to over one thousand signatures, which has been sent to Naypyidaw,” he told Kaowao.

Date: Wed, July 28, 2010 4:58:39 AM
Name of sender: Siri Mon Chan
Email of sender:sirimon.chan@student.adfa. edu.au
Dear Nai Banya Mon,

Thank you for important  suggestion. Our OMCC's stance on the election is crystal clear  since day one . We strongly oppose the 2008 Constitution, and consequently we oppose any elections based on that constitution  whether the election is in 2010 or  2100. We  have made our OMCC 's stance  crystal clear during the  5th Mon National Affairs Conference and we again make our stance clear that we will not accept the participation of our Mon party in that election as decided by our Mon National Affairs Conference. So, I will propose in our OMCC meeting about reaffirming our stance in a statement or else.

In fact, it is pathetic to say that we oppose the 2008 Constitution but we will not oppose the election based on that constitution. It is also illogical to say that we have already failed to  stop the forceful approval of the 2008 Constitution (5-Step in Roadmap) and , so it will be fruitless to oppose the election (6-step in Roadmap). Saying like that is not  a genuine revolution spirit,  the attitude, the determination  and the commitment of people who are really fighting for a political and social change. For people who are determined and fully committed to the struggle of political and social change, they will never give up. And, they absolutely  believe that they will never fail as long as they do not give up. The  SPDC can forcefully approve the 2008 Constitution and it may be able to go ahead with the planned  election, but  if we, people of Burma, keep on opposing any steps of its Roadmap Plans, it cannot be said that the SPDC wins and we, the people , fail. People's revolutions in England and in France took centuries in the 17th and 18th  (hundreds of years) until they finally achieved their ultimate victory. Those people's revolutions had been crushed, suppressed and defeated so many times in those centuries, but those people had never given up and hence they finally achieved their victory of political and social change in England and France. So, if we compare with those social and political movements, our social and political movements in Burma merely started  in 1988 in a greater scale  and it is just over 20-years now. With that  historical perspective, our revolution and movement is just in its infancy. If we feel disheartened and we give up, we will lose and it goes back to square one, pre-88 situation again. But if we are determined and keep on doing what we should be we will definitely achieve our victory of political and social change in our country in the end. 

Therefore, we should work together among our Mon, - MAU, NMSP, NNDF, OMCC , MUL and all other Mon organizations - and then with other ethnic and democratic forces and oppose any steps of the Roadmap Plans so that the SPDC and the military will not gain  its legitimacy. The planned 2010 election is extremely essential for the SPDC and military to gain its legitimacy, international acceptance and approval. After it gains its legitimacy and international recognition, it will be extremely difficult for our democratic and ethnic forces to fight for a change. As a result, we all should be resolute in our struggle. It is a critical moment and we need a resolute, strong and decisive leaderships. Therefore, I agree with Nai Banya Mon that our leading organizations such as the MAU, the NMSP, NNDF, OMCC and all others  should give clear, strong and resolute leadership to our Mon in this critical moment in our history. Our Mon people need decisive and strong leaderships in this critical time.

In solidarity,
Siri Mon Chan
Date: 7/28/2010 6:21 AM
Name of sender: Banya Mon
Email of sender: banyamon@yahoo.com

Dear Ko Siri Mon Chan,
I totally agree with you that more Mon organizations shoud voice out their stand regarding on the election and on AMRDP participation in the election. what is about OMCC. On current situation leading Mon organizations such as MAU, NMSP, MNDF and also OMCC should give clear message to Mon people regarding to the election. what they want Mon people to do for it.
Second, we all have to abide Our national conference decision if we want unity and we have to base on Mon interest. Therefore it would be great if OMCC can voice out their position on it.
How do u think?
Banya Mon

Date: Monday, July 26, 2010, 6:25 AM
Name of sender: Siri Mon Chan
Email of sender:sirimon.chan@student.adfa. edu.au

To  our Mon Patriots, Mon Comrades and Colleagues,

It is very heartening to see the MNC's statement and stance on the So-called Burma election in 2010 and the participation of AMRDP in that election. It may not be wrong to say that the statement reflects not only the stance of the MNC but also the stance of most of our Mon who love democracy and who are fighting for the democratic rights and the rights of our ethnic nationalities. Therefore, I take great pride in MNC's dignified and courageous action in publicly expressing its political stance on this issue. Therefore, I encourage all other Mon organizations and Mon patriots to follow suit and  raise the awareness of our Mon people on the election issue as it , one way or another, impacts on our Mon people.If we are silent,   It would appear as all Mon agree with the AMRDP's participation in the election  as the saying "Silence means agree" goes.

In fact, there are many fatal flaws in AMRDP's arguments in participating in the SPDC's sponsored elections. The AMRDP  argues  that it has to participate in the election as the NMSP and the MNDF have rejected to participate so that there are party and people work for our Mon. It goes on arguing that there is no other ways, with the exception of participating in the election,  to represent our Mon people and work for our Mon people. In fact, an election, even if it is a free and fair one, is just a process and a tiny  factor for a social and democratic change. Cuba under Fidel Castro, North Korea under Kim II-sung and  Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad all have elections. Elections on those countries merely legitimate the rule of those tyrants and fail to achieve any political and social change. Elections in Burma under the tyrannical regime will similarly bring nothing more than legitimizing the military dominance and the ongoing military rule in Burma.

It is also a flaw for AMRDP and all other parties participating in the elections that " we should take as much as we can get" and make a gradual change, politically and socially. Instead, we should be well  aware that  "there is no such thing as a free lunch"  as we always say in Economics.  Everything comes at a cost -most often at an enormous cost. It may be true that Mon representatives, if get elected, will have representation for our Mon in a parliament. However,  other than just superficially representing in the rubber-stamp parliament,  there is not much more they can do under the constitution drafted and forcefully approved in favour of the military dominance. On the other hand , for the SPDC and the military it  will gains enormous benefits and advantages by just giving the AMRDP and other pro-election parties the right to registration and participation in the election. The military and SPDC will gains the approval of 2008 constitution and it would  gain international recognitions and legitimacy. Those are the essential factors that the military and the SPDC's are desperately longing for. Therefore, it is very obvious that who will gain more and who will have to pay more - our people or the SPDC.

Most importantly, the AMRDP's decision to set up a new party and participate in the SPDC's election has disgracefully broken democratic principle and Mon national unity. Other than the NMSP and the MNDF, Mon Affairs Union and the 5th Mon National Affairs Conference participated even by those who are in the AMRDP now  have  discussed inn length and come to a conclusion that participating in the SPDC's election will not benefit our people and subsequently decided not to participate in the election. In fact, there were people who were in favour of and who were against any proposal. However, after the discussion, debates and then when it comes to a majority decision every ones including those minority who were against  the proposal and decision, too,  have to abide by the majority decision as in a democratic principle  and process. Now, against those democratic principle, a majority decision and Mon national unity, the AMRDP has disgracefully gone its own way by setting up the the party and participating in the election claiming that it did so for the interests of Mon people and by abusing the use of " ethnic/ national ticket".

In realty, there are many other  ways and means for us  to work for our Mon people without having to participate and legitimate the military rule. We all can work together with the NMSP, the MNDF and the MAU in other ways to achieve the aims of our Mon people. We can work hand in hand with other ethnic and democratic forces inside and outside the country to achieve our ultimate goals of democracy and Mon sovereignty.

So, lets work together in unity, at least under the democratic principle of  a majority rule and decision, for our  Mon people, people in Burma and for  democracy. Let's not look just at a short distance and short-term gains. Instead, let's always have   an overall view of the national political environment so that we will not have to lose our ultimate and long-term benefits for the sake of superficial and short-term benefits.

In solidarity,
Siri Mon Chan

Date: 7/26/2010 8:30 PM
Name of sender: Banya Mon
Email of sender: banyamon@yahoo.com
မြန္အမ်ဳိးသားေကာင္စီထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကျငာခ်က္နွင့္ပတ္သက္ျပီး ကြ်န္ေတာ္တို႔ကန္႔ကြက္စရာမလုိဘူးဟု ထင္ပါတယ္၊ မြန္အမ်ဳိးသားေကာင္စီဟု လြတ္လပ္သည့္အဖြဲ႔အစည္းတခုျဖစ္သည့္အတြက္ ၄င္းတုိ႔၏သေဘာထားကုိ လြတ္လြတ္လပ္္လပ္ ထုတ္ေဖာ္ခြင့္ရွိသည္ဟု ထင္ပါသည္၊ မြန္တုိ႔အတြက္ ယခုလုိအေရးၾကီးသည့္အခ်ိန္ကါလတြင္ မြန္အေရးႏွင့္ပတ္သက္ျပီး မြန္ျပည္သူလူထုကုိ ထုတ္ေဖာ္ေျပာဘုိ႔ မြန္အေရးလုပ္ေဆာင္ေနသည့္ မြန္အဖြဲ႔အစည္းေတြ၏တာ၀န္သာျဖစ္ေပသည္၊ ဒါမွသာ အဖြဲ႔အစည္းတာ၀န္ေက်ပြန္မွာျဖစ္သည္၊
မြန္အမ်ဳိးသားညီညြတ္ေရးအဖြဲ႔ခ်ဳပ္၏ၾကားေနေရးသေဘာထားသည္ တရား၀င္ထုတ္ျပန္ေက်ျငာခ်က္မေတြ႔ရသည့္အတြင္ အခုမွသိရသည္။ သုိ႔ေသာ္မြန္အမ်ဳိးသားညီညြတ္ေရးအဖြဲ႔ခ်ဳပ္၏ၾကားေနေရးသေဘာထားေၾကာင့္ က်န္အဖြဲ႔အစည္း၏လုပ္ပုိင္ခြင္႔ကုိ ပိတ္ပင္တာမ်ဳိးမျဖစ္သင့္ပါ၊ မြန္ေဒသလုံးဆုိင္ရာေရြးေကာက္ပြဲ၀င္သာနွင့္ပတ္သက္ျပီး က်န္မြန္အဖဲြအစည္းေတြကပါ သေဘာထားထုတ္သင့္ပါသည္၊၊
 ၂၀၁၀ ၏ခရာသည္ ၂၀၀၈အေျခခံဥပေဒ ျဖစ္သည့္အတြက္ ကြ်န္ေတာ္အားလုံး ၂၀၀၈ အေျခခံဥပေဒကုိ အေျခခံစဥ္းစားရပါမည္၊ ၂၀၀၈ အေျခခံဥပေဒသည္ စစ္အာဏါရွင္သက္ဆုိးရွည္ေရးႏွင့္ မြန္ျပည္သူအပါအ၀င္ ျပည္သူလူထုတရပ္လုံး ရာသက္ပန္စစ္ကြ်န္ျဖစ္ေရးပင္ျဖစ္သည္၊ ထုိ႔ေၾကာင့္ စစ္အာရွင္သက္ဆုိးရည္ေရးမည္႔ ၂၀၀၈ အေျခခံဥပေဒအသက္၀င္ေရးကုိ ကြ်န္ေတာ္တုိ႔ ဘာေၾကာင့္၀ုိင္း၀န္းပံ့ပုိးေပးေနသနည္း ၄င္းသည္ မြန္တုိ႔၏အက်ုိးစီပြားလား။
ကြ်န္ေတာ္က ပညာေကာင္းေကာင္းမသင္ခဲရသည့္အတြက္ သီအုိရီတုိ႔ေကာင္းေကာင္းမသိပါ၊ သုိ႔ေသာ္ အႏွစ္ ၂၀ ေက်ာ္ ေတာ္လွန္ေရးက ေပးသည့္အေတြ႔အၾကုံတခုမွာ အမ်ဳိးသားညီညြတ္ေရးသည္ အမ်ဳိးသားအက်ဳိးစီပြားအေပၚမွာ အေျခခံမွသာ တည္ေဆာက္နုိ္င္မည္၊ အမ်ဳိးသားအက်ုိးစီပြားကုိ ေက်ာ္၍ေသာ္လည္းေကာင္း အမ်ဳိးသားအက်ဳိးစီပြားမွ ေခ်ာ္လြဲ၍ေသာ္လည္းေကာင္း အမ်ုိးသားညီညြတ္ေရးကုိ တည္ေဆာက္၍မရပါ၊
Date: Mon, 7/26/10
Name of sender: Banya Htaw Weang
Email of sender: nandasuraman@ yahoo.com

Dear all,

First of all, I would like to say that I don't believe in junta backed election will be free and fair. Personally, I will neither joins and nor support such unfair election.

However, as a Mon, I would like to share my point of view over the complicated election issue that a Mon party will be joining.Honestly, after reading MNC statement,  I feel this is not a good sign to see such official statement of one overseas based Mon organization if we follow or respect the decision of Mon Affairs Union (MAU) that has standing policy of neither support nor denounce to any Mon party who wants to join the election.

I agree that we have to respect the decision and standing of NMSP and MNDF as well. At the same time, we might also need to aware of both standings of Mon political forces which is functioning so called legally and illegally if they believe in national benefit come first.

What I am thinking is I just don;t want to see some misunderstanding or fighting among Mon political forces. As we all can see that a political force of AMRDP is born now. What will we do with that? What would we do with AMRDP generation that will be born in the near future as well? What channel will we open for them to discuss? What plans do we come out to bring fruits for our people by working together and avoid any unnecessary conflict among us.

I believe many of our leaders in Monland and overseas know each other in any and the other way. Is there any way to reach each other first in order to come out with the plans that can go along each other before going too deep issues?

In theory, the dirty water that is flowing is better than the clean water that is not moving. The dirty water has a chance to become clean water as it is flowing while the clean water only has a chance to become dirty water by not flowing.

Throwing stones into the water may awake the fishes, but it dose not mean that we can tell right away what kind of fishes they are and how big they are until they are caught.

I would like to say that we all need to find a better way in order to do our national duties organizationally and individually and make dream come true for our people. As one saying that no one is perfect, I would like to urge you all to correct and guide me if I am wrong.

The above mentioned opinion is just mine. I am honestly just want to share for our people benefits.

ခ်ဴပလံင္လိခ္ နကုႝ မန္ ဝွန္ (mon font) ဂြံမာန္ရ


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