From a Well-Wisher: Reflections on Shan politics in the 2015 election

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Sao Noan Oo is the descendent of the saophas, or hereditary rulers, of the Shan princely state of Lawksawk, in southern Shan State. She is the author of the memoir, My Vanished World: The True Story of a Shan Princess. Born in 1931, she now resides in the UK and also writes under the name Nellie Adams.

Sao Noan Oo001

I wish Tai/Shan candidates contesting in the coming election on the eighth of November, ‘Good Luck.’

As an observer of life and politics for many decades, I have learned that in life, and especially in politics, nothing is black and white, nor is any political issue straightforward and without consequences. One’s good intentions sometimes can turn out to be the worst thing one has ever done—for example, the Tai/Shan leaders signing the Panglong Agreement. We all know what happened to the result of that agreement. Therefore, I would like to warn all Tai/Shan leaders, as well as voters, to think carefully and with conscience, and to vote for the candidates who they feel will work for the benefit of the Shan States and all citizens.

The Tai/Shan have two main parties: the SNDP and SNLD. I have nothing against the SNDP being a separate party from SNLD as long as they support one another when it comes to common policies of freedom, rights of ethnic nationalities, honouring the Panglong Agreement and internal self-determination. These points should come before minor differences.

I understand the SNDP is making ethnicity its priority. No doubt, this will increase its popularity amongst the Tai/Shan in the Kachin and Sagaing areas and in other parts of Burma. It will bring the Tai/Shan together more strongly in recognising their identity: culture, language and most of all, ethnicity.

The SNLD’s campaign is said to be based on the State, on trying to unite all the diverse people living in the Shan States. Their policy is for the survival and benefit of the homeland and its citizens: Danu Shan, Intha Shan, Pa-O Shan, Palaung Shan, Kaw Shan, Tai Shan.

Although all human beings are of the same species, they become divided by distance and by the areas where they live, by choice or by circumstances, and thus we have many divisions called ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity.’ There is nowhere in the world that contains only one ethnicity.

The SNLD, in trying to unite all the peoples of the Shan States and save the motherland from destruction, might be misunderstood by some that they are disloyal to their own ethnicity, and therefore will not be gaining votes from outside the Shan States.

The SNDP, in trying to put ethnicity before their own home country, will be gaining votes from outside the Shan States, but might be misunderstood by some that their policy is anti-diversity, anti-federation, and encouraging segregation, prejudice and conflict not only in the Shan States but in all other ethnic states.

Therefore, please weigh the pros and cons of the aftermath of your votes: please think hard and vote by your conscience.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

By Sao Noan Oo / Special Contributor to Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.)

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