(26-29 November 2017)
The greatest bankruptcy in life is hopelessness.
Attributed to The Buddha
This time, my main purpose was to take part in the Sino-Myanmar Scholars Informal Meeting, which was on 27 November.
This is the second such meeting that I have the honor to attend. The first was on 6 April 2017, that I have already reported in To Hopeland and Back: The 29th trip
As usual, I’ll reporting what was discussed there without naming who was saying what.
Participants at the China-Myanmar Scholars Informal Meeting, 27 November 2017. (Photo:PI)
Day One. Sunday, 26 November 2017
A peace achieved through violence can only be sustained by violence.
Bangkok Post, 29 August 2017
On my arrival in Mingladon, I meet a friend who is helping Naypyitaw in the peace process. She wants to know the latest update from the EAOs. The following is the abstract from our 30-minute meeting:
When the PSLA was disarmed in 2005, the TNLA arose. And when the SSA was forced to become a PMF (People’s Militia Force), its fighters moved over to the First Brigade that refused to go along.
She tells me DDR isn’t her group’s idea. And we part friends.
The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives and then receiving them at Parami, the hotel that I stay.
Participants at the China-Myanmar Scholars Informal Meeting, 27 November 2017. (Photo:PI
Day Two. Monday, 27 November 2017
At a time when the US and Europe flirt with concepts of humanitarian intervention and democratic promotion, China has proclaimed itself as a staunch defender of national sovereignt y and sovereign freedom from external intervention.
Stratfor, 27 June 2016
The meeting is held at Dagon Room#2, 2nd Floor of the Sedona Hotel, which is not far from Parami.
There are 18 of us sitting round a round table: 5 from HD, 7 from China’s Yunnan, and 6 from the Myanmar side. You might say that I’m the only black sheep there, not being a scholar.
After the customary introductions, Adam Cooper, HD’s country representative, informs the participants that the meeting is being held under Chatham House Rule, against the backdrop of Tatmadaw chief visiting China, 21-25 November, and the State Counselor’s trip, 30 November.
Then come the discussions, the summary of which is as follows:
On Saturday, 25 November, I was at a panel discussion, where ex-military officers attended. According to one of them, they don’t accept Annan’s report. They don’t trust Bangladesh. They are also worried about repatriation of the refugees back to the country. The tone was clearly “us and them”, and that was frightening.
They are also against BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) economic corridor. “It’s foolish to implement it at a time of conflict, said the panelist. On the other hand, they don’t trust the US and the Western media either.
Beijing – security focus
Yunnan – economy focus
I have limited knowledge of Kachin. But when I visited there, I heard local opinions about the Myitsone dam. I then wrote a report that with such public emotions, it would be ill-advised to build the dam. But companies there just ignored my advice.
Perhaps we can take a leaf from how the South China Sea issue is being tackled.
They avoid hard questions like: Which island belongs to whom? Instead they focus on individual issues like joint fishery and resource management. They try to build confidence that way.
6 stories from history (presented here in a separate file)
After 2008, civil society organizations (CSOs) started to take precedence over the political parties. They should ideally work together. But parties still don’t seem to trust the CSOs enough.
We may need to develop the non-signatories on board. What they are doing today is just window-dressing.
Trust was lost after the fighting in Kokang in 2015. That is why they have drafted their own NCA.
They refuse to sign while there is fighting.
There is a chicken-and egg situation, because the Tatmadaw is saying if you want me to stop the fighting, sign the NCA.
The timing is not right yet for mega economic projects. People may think, “Now China has done it again!” Economic development is important but we need to have an economic strategy first.
Adam Cooper (Closing remarks)
We appear to have focused on 7 themes:
At 13:05 we wind up and have lunch together. At 14:00, we part with our Chinese friends, who return upstairs to meet with UN and other diplomats.
At 17:00, I’m receiving friends coming far and near. Here are the excerpts from my notes taken there:
Shan State Bangladesh
Area: 60,155 miles2 56,977 miles2
(155,801 Km2) (142,776 Km2)
Population: 5.8 million 163 million
(I ask them whether they have got hold of plans by the Muslims to take over the country. All of them give me a blank look: something like, “Khuensai, go home.”)
Something to sleep over, isn’t it? So we break up the party 3 hours later.
Day Three. Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Comanche Chief: You ask me to be better than my enemies?
Negotiator: I ask you to be greater. A great man grants great favors.
Today, I visit Pyidaungsu In stitute-Yangon office (PIY), who are working on 5 research papers to be published as booklets, in 2018
Later, I visit the NCAS.EAO office that was opened on 18 November. It is just next door to the NRPC office and the Union Election Committee (UEC) Information office. I only stay there for some 10 minutes as most of the staff are busy accommodating an EAO8 meeting.
According to a Shan representative who had attended the 6th JICM in Naypyitaw yesterday, the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) had accepted the government’s proposal to hold the (sub) national dialogue in Langkher/Langkho for 3 reasons:
I have nothing against it, i inform the young friend. But I warn him he’s going to have a tough time explaining himself to other member organizations of the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU).
In the evening, I have another session with my relatives, 19:30-22:20.
Nothing much to report here, except I find out that I’m still lucky to be alive after 69. My mother passed away in 1990 at the age of 63, and my father followed her in 1993. He was 68.
Day Four. Wednesday, 29 November 2017
One who experiences the unity of life
Sees others in oneself
Sees oneself in others
And looks at everything with an impartial eye.
Siddhartha Gotama, aka The Buddha
I have breakfast with friends who are holding a Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) Review meeting at the same hotel.
Things were not so good during President Thein Sein’s time. But now they have become tougher, they said.
“We used to have informal meetings then. So if we had any complaints, we could meet and straighten them out in an informal way. But now, we only send written official complaints to each other. Naturally, it has become more complicated to deal with them.”
According to 7 Day, quoting Dr Suikhar, the JMC-U secretary, it has received 285 complaints during the past 2 years. Out of which 182 were settled. Over 120 complaints were from Shan State.
At 13:30 we are in the air. An hour later, we land in one piece at Chiangmai.
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