Two weeks earlier, I met some diplomats from Burma/ Myanmar who told me, according to their information, the government wanted to make the next Panglong 21the last Panglong. Top- drawer issues will be settled there. The rest will then be transferred to the Parliament to be straightened out one after another, as one of them supposed, “at leisure”.
The information coincided with a statement from a government representative from the Peace Commission (PC) meeting the NCA signatories’ Peace Process Working Committee (PPST) and the non-signatories’ Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN), 3-4 August, in Chiangmai. According to him, the Union Peace Conference #4 aka Union Peace Conference 21st Century Panglong (UPC 21 CP) #3, will have 4 main issues, put together in two packages, for consideration:
* Cast iron guarantee by non Burmans not to secede from the Union in exchange for Right of Self-determination (meaning having own state constitutions), and
* DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration) in exchange for federalism.
The first package, as you know, was already debated and negotiated at Panglong 21 #2, 24-29 May, which, to no one surprise, ended inconclusively.
I discussed this with one of the researchers working with an international organization a few days ago. His comment: “There’s a lot of mutual mistrust between the two sides, especially after the new government took office last year. In this kind of situation, the sensible thing to do is to start with less contentious issues in order to build trust. But if we start tackling the big issues you’re talking about, nothing will be resolved in 4 years, let alone in 4 months.” (Panglong 21 #3 is tentatively planned for December, 4 months away.)
What he said reminded me of a story told by (or believed to be told by) Aesop, which goes to something like this.
One day, Hercules was walking along a country road. On the way, he accidentally stepped on an apple lying on the road. Suddenly, it became bigger. Surprised, he stopped and deliberately stamped on it. The more he did it and clubbed it, the bigger it became until the road was blocked.
The Goddess Minerva then appeared and said to him:
“Hercules, this apple is known as the Apple of Discord. Leave it alone and it will stay small. But rough it up, and it’ll blow up out of proportion. So my advice is do yourself a favor and lay off.”
Maybe we should do ourselves the same favor?
A nice little advice. But I doubt if it is going to be accepted even as a theory, much less to implement it. The Bamar political elite and the Military top brass are not known to be sophisticated, especially where politics is concerned. For them, there is only win-lose outcome and win-win political settlement has never cross their minds. It is that simple.
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