Day Four. Wednesday, 15 February 2017

KNU delegation meets SMJH, 15 February 2017, in Laiza. (Photo: PI)

Friends are chosen, but neighbors come with the house.

H.E. Hong Liang, reported by Global New light of Myanmar, 5 February 2017

This morning we have a meeting with religious leaders. I find them speaking quite openly as they know most of their guests are Christians like themselves.

One of them attacks the government for “flouting” the inclusivity principle as adopted by the NCA. Another criticizes it for urging the non-signatories to sign it, but “offering no guarantees.” It is also getting more difficult to deal with the new government, because “it has two heads” instead of one like all normal governments do.

Here are the excerpts from the discussions by the visitors:

  • We signed the NCA not because we trusted the government. We may even say that we signed it, because we didn’t trust the government.
  • But it has its own advantages:
  1. We continue to carry our arms as long as the peace process lasts
  2. We are no longer unlawful organizations, and people need not be afraid they might be prosecuted for dealing with us
  3. The NCA accepts the principle of federalism
  4. There may still be clashes between the Tatmadaw and the EAOs, due to long standing mutual mistrust plus lack of demarcation and repositioning of troops, but, on the whole, the number of clashes has gone down. Which means the NCA more or less keeps the Tatmadaw in check
  • If the KIA is attacked, there is very little the world can speak for them. But if the KNLA or SSA is attacked, there is a lot the world can speak for them.
  • There are two opposing concepts which need to be reconciled:

One is that this nation has come into being since the day of Anawrahta (1044-1077) or even before that. That the dominant race has always been Burmans/Bamars. So the ultimate arbiter of this country should be Bamars.

The other is that this nation was brought about by Panglong. Which means we are equal and joint owners of this country. That’s why this country needs a federal system to govern itself.

  • If we keep on fighting, in the end we may, like Native Americans, one day be seen only in reservations. So while we still have strength, we need to find new ways so that we may survive and prosper.
  • The government may have two heads now. But these two heads are closer to each other than to us. That’s why both signatories and non-signatories should develop closer relations
  • War at the table is like war in the field. If you don’t know how to fight, you lose.
  • NCA is created by human beings. It is therefore not perfect. But because it is not perfect, we can do something about it

Col (ret) Htoo Htoo Lay speaking to the SMJH, 15 February 2017. Next to him, from left to right, are Harn Yawnghwe, author, Padoh Ta Do Moo, Padoh Hserh Gay, Marcus (standing).
(Photo: PI)

One religious leader later tells us it is a very informative meeting.

The next session in the afternoon, 14:00-17:00, is with the SMJH, translated into English as Kachin Political Consultative Team (KPCT), made up of 38 members: 10 from KIO and the rest from Kachin State, Shan State “North,” Rangoon and Mandalay.

Its purpose is to form a representative body that will speak for the Kachin people in their quest for peace and political future. It became one year old on 23 January.

Here are the extracts from the speech of Gen Gun Maw who speaks for the SMJH:

  • If we want to catch the prey, we must have beaters on every side
  • The TNLA, MNDAA and AA should be allowed to participate in the peace process, with special provisos
  • No decision has been made not to sign the NCA
  • If you can’t speak about Panglong (agreement and promises), it’s no use using the name Panglong (for the peace conference)
  • We were advised to deal with regional commanders. And we said, “How could we, if these people are lying even to their own superiors?”

The day ends with a lavish dinner party. You may blame the Kachins for anything but never their hospitality, which in my experience, is the unbeatable Number One.

(To be continued)