Yesterday, SHAN was inundated with comments full of wrath and hate for its reports on the abuses-as-usual activities of the Burma Army troops in the wartorn areas of Kokang. Inadvertently, SHAN seems to have become a Chinese lover.
But the reports are true. Not only that but they are also useful for Burmese leaders who want this country to be united. Remember what the late Aung San had said: “If we can’t make them (non-Burmans) want to stay with us, it must be because no shoddier people ever existed.”
It was clear right from Day One that these peoples whose lands were both geographically and politically separate from Burma had misgivings about joining hands with it. Were it not for for their trust in Aung San and his promise they could either stay or leave after ten years, they wouldn’t have agreed to.
One well known Shan saying about Burmans is synonymous with an old American saying: A good Injun is a dead Injun. But there are kinder but less well known sayings about Burmans: There are no worse people than the Burmans. On the other hand, there are no better people than them.
For more than 60 years, the non-Burmans have waited for a good Burman to take the stage. In 2011 when President Thein Sein made his call for peace talks it seemed their prayers were at last answered.
However, what seems to have happened is the country has become two worlds: one urban and civilized while the other is rural and savage.
Non-Burman leaders accordingly are given special treatment and care in the urban world while their people continue to suffer in the countryside under the Burma Army troops.
Like the cartoon here, everyone appears to want change except to change themselves.
It is therefore high time we considered this. A new type of citizens, as the eminent Thai academic Dr Chaivat Satha-Anand recommends, is what this country needs to have. It can be acquired only if we have a new type of education: one that does not glorify war mongering rulers like Anawrahta, Bayinnaung, and Alaungpaya — as well as the Shans’ Hso Khan Fa (1211-1264) for that matter — but benign rulers like Kyansittha, Aung San and others.
But if we keep on extolling people like Alaungpaya, who had put to death more than 3,000 Mon monks, we should not be surprised if we are going to face another wave of anti-Chinese riots like in 1967, when 50 were killed according to official count, including 1 embassy official when the Chinese mission in Rangoon was ravaged by an angry mob.
To make it short, we need a new kind of history that teaches our children — as well as their parents — how people have lived together in peace under great rulers like Asoka and a new kind of mindset that generates good feelings and thoughts for one’s fellowmen.
After all, in less than a year, we are going to have the Asean Community, a larger one than Burma. All the more necessity for this new kind of history texts.
When dealing with people,
Remember that you are not dealing with creatures of logic,
But creatures of emotion (including yourself)
*Words in parenthesis added by author