To Hopeland and Back The 21st trip for the 21st Century Panglong

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Dr Khammai Khammasami (Photo: i1os.com)
Dr Khammai Khammasami
(Photo: i1os.com)

Day Five. Friday, 26 August 2016

I speak Spanish to God,

Italian to women

French to men

And German to my horse.

The Global Negotiator

Today, Sai Kham Nood, Secretary of the Shan Literary and Culture Society who’s also my nephew-in-law, drives me to the Shan State Buddhist University (SSBU) that was inaugurated last February by founder Rev Dr Khammai Khammasami, the Shans’ foremost religious leader.

Shan State Buddhist University (SSBU)
Shan State Buddhist University (SSBU)

The classes haven’t started yet and the construction is still going on. “Already there are several applications,” says Rev Kumara of Mongpan, Dr Khammasami’s chief representative here, “but none from the Shan circle as yet.” He smiles meaningfully.

The university which is scheduled to become active beginning next year, he adds, will be employing English as a lingua franca.

“Sao Khu”, as Dr Khammai Dhammasami is known by his disciples,is certainly reaching for the stars.

Day Six. Saturday, 27 August 2016

Every negotiation has both cooperative and competitive components. Avoid adopting either extreme.

The Global Negotiator

Today the RCSS holds a meeting at its Taunggyi liaison office to finalize its list of delegates and the text of the presentation at the UPC 21 CPC.

As Chairman Yawd Serk already has a “difficult-to-ignore engagement,” the movement will be represented by Sao Khwan Mong, one of his closest and respected advisors for the opening ceremony. Twelve other “attendees” (the conference preparatory committee took the decision not to use “representatives”) let by Brig Gen Pawng Kherh are approved. U Soe Min, a Hmong lecturer from the Lashio University, is also chosen to take part in the “Ethnic Representatives” category. Hmong, known as Meo and Miaozi in Burma, are unrepresented in any political parties or armed movements in Burma, having only 15,000 of them in the whole country, according to him.

As for myself, I’m being billed as a “relevant invitee”.

The SEA Game village, Naypyitaw
The SEA Game village, Naypyitaw

Day Seven. Sunday, 28 August 2016

Increase the area of opportunity by increasing your knowledge of each other.

The Global Negotiator

Today we return to Naypyitaw. As the SEA Game village, designated as our home away from home, is yet to be opened, we put up at the Royal Lotus Hotel, where the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) is to hold a meeting tomorrow.

 Day Eight. Monday, 29 August 2016

It is important to avoid an adversarial approach.

The Global Negotiator

Royal Lotus hotel in Naypyitaw (Photo: booking .com)
Royal Lotus hotel in Naypyitaw
(Photo: booking .com)

The CSSU meets at 13:00. Representatives from all 4 of its principal members: Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP). Plus the Taileng (Shan Ni) parties from Kachin and Sagaing.

The topics to be discussed include:

  • Sharing views on the UPC 21 CPC
  • Cooperation in holding national level political dialogues (NPD) that will follow the conference
  • State constitution drafting
  • Salween dam projects

The meeting, presided by former VP Sai Mawk Kham, is fine. Everyone speaks in a conciliatory tone. Sai

Dr Sai Mawk Kham (Photo: INVC)
Dr Sai Mawk Kham
(Photo: INVC)

Mawk Kham is indeed to be commended for his counsel to all to adopt a friendly approach.

“It’s confrontational if we use the word ‘object,’” he says when we are discussing the Shan people’s opposition to the dam projects on the Salween. “It would be friendlier to say ‘we urge the government.’”

The result is the meeting adopts his advice, which is in line with the old Shan saying:

Without blistering the lotus

Without muddying the water

Let us catch the fish

Day Nine. Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Separate the person from the problem.

The Global Negotiator

I’m interviewed by Thai Channel 3 this morning. (The Voice and Thai Rath follow later in the coming days.)

Then we all move to the SEA Game Village. The place is nice, with running water and air-conditioned. “But the food is awful,” one of the delegates warns.

Fortunate or unfortunate, I don’t have a chance to test it, as friends are providing us with ample breakfasts from the outside and inviting us for dinner each evening.

And now tomorrow is the big day we’ve been waiting for. Will it bring hopes to our people or disappointments? Or both?

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