Sunday, June 23, 2024

KNU: Asset or liability for the resistance?

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Out of Burma’s 16 armed resistance movements recognized officially by the government, the Karen National Union (KNU) is the only movement that can boast an insider track with Naypyitaw, having met the President 5 times and the Commander-in-Chief 7 times.

KNU Asset or Liability

Very little information has come out of the meetings which has raised doubts from even its staunch supporters. A few data has not been helpful either. For instance, when one of the top members of the KNU delegation was reported voicing support for the President for another term, a story began making the rounds that the KNU leader Mutu Saypoe would be replacing the present outsider Sai Mawk Kham as one of the two Veeps.

For uninformed outsiders, the August report that the KNU had suspended its membership in the 12 party armed alliance, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), was conclusive: it has become Napyitaw’s stooge.

Nothing can be further from the truth. But there can be no denying that the KNU leadership appears to be having trouble balancing confidentiality with transparency, a problem which is also plaguing several other movements that are less well-known.

Nevertheless, the KNU has not been selfish with its information. It has been sharing what it has with several movements, particularly the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

Granted that what the KNU says should be taken with a large pinch of salt, it should also not be forgotten that the group is the only one among the movements that has been able to penetrate Naypyitaw’s lines. To dismiss its “success” as nothing of importance might prove to be the resistance movements’ biggest blunder.

Many leaders like to say they are followers of Sun Tzu (meaning Master Sun) who wrote the military classic, The Art of War.

If they are, they could not have helped notice the master’s principal dictum: “To win without fighting is best” and more importantly (and paradoxically) of his opposition to war.

13 chapters, especially the last one, encourages getting behind the enemy’s lines and changing their hearts.

Of course, on every side, there are opportunists who are out to make the best of it for their own personal interests. They should be curbed, not tolerated. But they should not be the reason for not cultivating close relations with the other side. (Remember another rule of negotiation: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.)

The situation, as ardent students of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms would agree, is one “bestowed by Heaven” which comes only once in a lifetime. Liu Bei and Sun Chuan, the two main stakeholders, had lost, because they failed to make proper use of their assets and ended up fighting against each other. Heaven’s blessings was then transferred to Wei, which defeated the two, one after the other, and establish a new dynasty.

Let our leaders therefore waste no more time to decide and do what’s good for the people and country. Then the people and the country will express their gratitude to you by not forgetting you for as long as they live.

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