The peace process: Say ‘No’ to closed minds

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tiger-as-editorOne of the Shans’ most well known politician-writer was Tun Myint Taunggyi aka Tun Myint Lay.

He, in 1957, wrote on the Shan State’s right of secession as bestowed by the 1947 constitution.

There may be those who wish to remain in the Union.

At the same time, there may also be those in wish to secede in order set up their own nations.

Among the pro-Unionists, there may be found two categories:

  1. Those who wish to remain because of self-interest, and
  2. Those who sincerely believe that it is in the interests o the people of their states to remain in the Union.

Similarly, corresponding categories in the opposite camp may be found:

  1. Those who wish to secede due to lack or loss of private interests in the Union, and
  2. Those who sincerely believe that only through secession, will progress and prosperity be worked out for the Shan people.

Accordingly, one cannot at a glance denounce everyone who supports unionism of being opportunists, office seekers, and lacking patriotism. Similarly, one can also not accuse everyone who upholds secession of being traitors and imperialists’ fifth columnists. Instead, each side should be open-minded, respect the right of freedom of thought and expression of other people, give the other side the benefit of the doubt and examine their arguments carefully. People in general must be encouraged to freely and broadly discuss the issue. The decision of the majority must be taken as final.

To me the rise of the secession issue is a most valuable eye-opener for the Shan people. It will also serve as a criterion for Shan democracy. (‘To part or to stay’, 4 April 1957)

Today we are also facing the same kind of situation albeit in a new twist: To sign or not to sign (the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, more commonly known as NCA).

Those who want to sign are being accused as traitors and opportunists lining their pockets with millions of dollars from a certain foreign-supported NGO.

Say no to closed minds

On the other hand, those who are reluctant to sign are being charged as pitheads and puppets of a certain superpower nation.

As could be expected, these often repeated but unverified allegations, in time, became gospels for many. As Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, used to say: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Were they true, they would only be for a handful of people on each side. The majority are just who, in accordance with their experience and information available, have decided to stand on the side that they believe is “for the people.”

At this critical hour, slinging stones and mud from afar at each other through mainstream and social media is certainly not going to help. It is high time both sides invite each other, sit at the same table, to sort out the pros and cons of each side’s position. Then we may be able to come to a decision that is indeed beneficial to the people.

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