The truth and legality of the “Panglong Agreement”

Published on June 27, 2007

The truth and legality of the “Panglong Agreement”

By Sao Noan Oo

June 28, 2007: In the article, “Conflicting Interests Impede Burma’s Democratisation” written by Nehginpao Kipgen, in the Asian Tribune, 2007-06-21, he wrote “In fact, with the nullification of the 1947 Panglong Agreement and the subsequent constitution, all ethnic nationalities of Burma can claim pre-independence status.”

I totally agree with this statement but what I am not clear about is what came after, “claiming pre-independence status is likely to create more instability and violence in this volatile situation. Building the Union of Burma would better serve the interests of the different nationalities”.

Sao N. OoThe SPDC and the extreme Burman Nationalists disagreed with the principles and spirit of the Panglong Agreement and the 1948 Constitution and that was the reason why Bogyoke Aung San and colleagues were assassinated. They pressurized and made the then Prime Minister, U Nu change the Constitution in favour of their wish.

When the ethnic leaders democratically brought this into the open and asked for a debate in Parliament Ne Win and his army staged a coup and put all members of parliament in prison. Like it or not the Panglong Agreement between the Burmese leaders and Non-Burman ethnic leaders is a fact and reality that binds the different nations together as the Union of Burma. The military regimes destroyed the Agreement, thereby destroying the Union.

For the last forty or more years they have by force tried to glue the broken pieces together and  have failed dismally; instead they have made all the nationals of Burma live in fear and terror. They turned Burma into a prison, caged all those who opposed them. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been locked up because the military is frightened that she would honour the spirit and legality of the Panglong Agreement by following the wish of her father, General Aung San, one of the leading signatories representing the people of Burma Proper. 

If the ethnic nations are to dismiss their claim of pre-independence status it will mean that they are to erase the truth, the make up and break up of the Union of Burma, the existence of the Panglong Agreement, the Independence, the assassination of Bogyoke Aungsan and  the military regime and its human rights violations. All these incidences are the truth and nothing but the truth. Britain honoured the agreement of returning Hong Kong to China; and likewise Portugal did the same with Macau. Agreements between decent parties are to be honoured otherwise the world will be in chaos like Burma is at present.

Building the Union of Burma would better serve the interest of people only by the consent of the people of all nationalities, like it was done through the Panglong Agreement. The legality and spirit of the Panglong Agreement and the 1948 Constitution have to be adopted and only then can all the nations move forward and implement its shortcomings through parliament by the votes of the legally elected parliamentarians. If the Agreement is dishonoured and the Constitution abrogated then the status of the different nations has to be regarded as a free nation, forcibly occupied by the military regimes.

What is so wrong with all the nations of Burma forming a genuine federation with equal rights and equal status? Why are the generals so afraid of the Panglong Agreement and the 1948 Constitution?  Why is the regime afraid of a free and fair competition? Is it because it lacks the confidence of competing justly and fairly that it uses violence to make people do according to their demand? If the Regime has the trust and respect of the people they will also have the support of the people without the need to use violence.

All the resistance groups have asked for a tripartite reconciliation and discussion and yet the regime has turned a deaf ear to them. If the generals think that their ideology and policies are correct, why are they afraid to meet and have an open discussion with others?

The truth has to be confronted and debated otherwise ill feelings between the aggressor and the victims could not be forgiven and forgotten. The regime has been given several chances by the citizens of Burma as well as the UN and the international community to take the country forward but it has chosen to take it backward into the dark ages when human beings destroy other human beings, when there was no moral principles and law and order. The military regimes of Burma will surely be remembered as one of the most evil, dictatorial regimes. Their rule will also go down as the darkest period in the history Burma during which all citizens lived in fear and terror. 

The generals are getting old, it is about time they search their conscience and atone and apologise to the citizens of Burma for their misrule of the country and its citizens. It is about time they admit that their judgement was a mistake, and transfer power and governing to the democratically elected members. They tell the world that they will be adopting democracy soon, but democracy is only a word unless it is done with the consent of the majority of people, and democracy is not democracy if it is not based on honour, truth, justice and freedom.  

The author, Sao Noan Oo aka Nel Adams, is a scion of the Lawkzawk House. She is known for her memoirs “My Vanished World.” The opinions expressed here are her own.