Trust-building needs to start with trust-stimulation activities

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Talking about trust and trust-building, it is of course a disappointment to see that according to the recent opinion poll by People’s the Alliance for Credible Elections, the level of trust among the population has dropped in less than two years from 37 to 17.

The interpersonal trust-level nosedived among the population is matched by the country’s stakeholders which has contributed to the stagnation of the ongoing peace process.

The basic problem of trust-building is understood by stakeholders, especially the powers that be as “you have to trust me and follow my lead”. It is never a give-and-take based in common good where everyone could benefit. For example, the government-military regime wants the Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) to either follow its prescribed policy or accept its negotiated surrender type of participation relation. In other words, the EAOs should be contended with the political space provided by it and not through a logical sense in implementing the peace process like State-level political dialogue or public consultation.

Here we have something to do with poverty in trust-building, as the Tatmadaw blocked Shan public consultation fearing that this could lead to the unity of Shan population and demand more political concession, like say secession, due to the phobia arising from Tatmadaw’s heavy-handedness and oppression of the populace which have been going for decades.

By doing it, the Tatmadaw and the government have clearly depleted the accumulated little trust that actually could multiply by encouraging and endorsing it, instead of prohibiting the public consultation. To make the matter worse, this kind of prohibition were also meted out in some part of Karen State and other Regions.

If the government-military government really wants to achieve positive results, it has to stimulate trust-building undertakings. And what are they in concrete terms?

Showing broad mindedness by accepting all EAOs; declaring unilateral nationwide ceasefire; freeing all ethnic political prisoners; calling all stakeholders to formulate a jointly owned peace process and so on are trust stimulating activities that would increase trust between the negotiators and not with conducting heavy military offensives, while also participating in the peace process negotiation like the Tatmadaw is doing now.

In sum, trust-building needs trust-stimulation activities for it won’t work with “you have to trust me and follow my lead” kind of approach.

Link to the story: Trust us, this isn’t good

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