Commentary on “Twin Authoritarianisms in Myanmar”

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Sai Wan Sai
Sai Wan Sai

If ever there is a genuine desire to really walk the talks of establishing a multi-ethnic state anchored in federal union, the Bamar political elite and Bamar-dominated military bloc will have to change the rule of election in Burma, or shall we say Myanmar.

We could set aside the comprehensive constitutional amendment of 2008 military-drafted one for the time being and just alter a little bit of electoral rule in the upcoming nationwide election of 2020.

Let us say, the Bamar-dominated parties like National League for Democracy (NLD) and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), including the National Unity Party (NUP), the two latter being from the military bloc, could stay away from ethnic states election and let the ethnic political parties compete among themselves.

The said three parties like to position themselves as being national parties, cross-cutting ethnic lines. But this is actually not the case, as all ethnic nationalities see them as ethnic Bamar parties.

Besides, these all Bamar parties are financially and politically more advanced and at advantage, as the military bloc parties had been governing the country for more than five decades and the NLD with extensive party structure with the Bamar majority backing, are heavy weight in comparison to the ethnic political parties, which have little or no experience in party politics. Thus, the election in ethnic states will be lopsided and the non-Bamar ethnic minority groups will be at disadvantage.

Prior to the 1962 military coup, the non-Bamar ethnic political parties compete only among themselves and the Bamar political parties were not directly involved, but in rare case only through ideologically affiliated ethnic parties.

The NLD and USDP could refrain from entering election in ethnic states, so that the real non-Bamar ethnic representative parties can come up to represent their own kind in a democratic manner, including upholding minorities’ rights according to democratic principles.

And with a minor constitutional amendment of letting the ethnic states choosing their on state chief ministers, a meaningful move in the direction of federalism could be made. And from this, a further comprehensive constitutional amendment could be eventually be furthered.

And as said earlier, the NLD and USDP would need to stay away from ethnic states elections, if they are really keen to hold the multi-ethnic state upright and usher in a genuine federal union, in words and deeds.

But if they are obsessed with just gaining political powers at all cost, nothing much can be done to further the notion of federal union.

Link to the story: Twin Authoritarianisms in Myanmar – New Mandala

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