(14-18 December 2017)
Every man is my superior in some way
In that I learn from him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
The NCA signatories’ meeting to prepare for the upcoming Union Peace Conference (UPC#4), according to the NCA, or the Union Peace Conference 21st Century Panglong (UPC21CP) #3, according to the government, was held in Chiangmai, 14-18 December.
As I was away in Chiang Saen on the Golden Triangle to attend the 9th Asian Informal Drug Policy Dialogue, 12-15 December, I was in time only for the last two days, 17-18 December.
Generals Mutu Saypoe and Yawdserk presiding over the meeting, 14-18 December 2017. (Photo: Mizzima)
Day Four. Sunday, 17 December 2017
Tatmadaw must fully protect the ethnic minorities in Rakhine region from genocide.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, speaking to 59th intake of the Defense Services Academy (DSA), 2 December 2017, Eleven/Irrawaddy
Today, the meeting discusses on prepared draft papers for the 5 dialogue topics: Politics, Security, Economy, Social, and Land and Natural Resources Management.
The following are extracts from the discussions of the participants:
On Political Sector
There are 10 “basic federal principles” to be proposed:
On Security sector
Note The relevant points are:
Paragraph 20(g) the two parties will continue to confer on concepts related to “Security reintegration matters”
Accordingly, EAO team has been selected to hold an informal with the Tatmadaw “soon”
The prepared paper on economic sector is approved without lengthy discussion. The same goes for social and land and natural resources management sectors.
Some of the remarks made by the participants I find to be noteworthy are:
During the last session, the meeting discusses who is going to be what in each of the working committees for the 5 dialogue topics. It is inconclusive. The participants decide to continue the discussion tomorrow.
Padoh Ta Do Moo presenting his paper to the meeting, 14-18 December 2017. (Photo: Irrawaddy)
During the day, an unexpected report is given by the RCSS representative:
The meeting adjourns at 17:00.
On my way back, I’m told that the Burmese delegation led by U Thein Zaw had met the Wa delegation led by U Sein Win, better known to the world as Wei Xuegang, on 15 December in Kunming. The meeting went well, though no details are disclosed. Except that both sides had agreed to meet again.
A scholar has noted that out of the 35 points proposed by the Wa-led FPNCC, 23 of them are already comparable to what are in the NCA. Only 12 of them require negotiation.
Another is a meeting between the DPN delegation and the government’s Peace Commission members in Yangon to brainstorm on how the former’s proposed meeting with the State Counselor and the Commander-in-Chief could be arranged. Again, no details.
I sincerely hope both turn out well.
Day Five. Monday, 18 December 2017
This (assigning ex-military officers to run the peace process) is like getting a fox to guard the hen-house.
Maj Gen Tun Mrat Naing, AA Commander, reported by Irrawaddy, 15 December 2017
Today’s session begins with greetings for the Karen New Year, which falls today (By the Shan calendar, it is the 1st Waxing Moon of the Second Lunar Month.)
The Karen Year 2757, is counted beginning with the year Karen tribes were believed to have entered Burma, according to Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win, Vice Chairman of the KNU. It became an official holiday in 1937, during the British days. Other than the Karen, no other ethnic nationalities’ New Years are official holidays. Perhaps the government thinks we already have too many official holidays.
Five days of preliminary talks are held ahead of the third meeting of Union Peace Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand on December 14. (Photo-KNU)
Coming next is the report from the RCSS that an official complaint has been lodged with the government with copies to the Commander-in-Chief and the UPDJC. “Public consultations will be held in Muse and Langkher at 10:00 (10:30 Thai time). We hope there is no repetition of what happened yesterday. But if there is, we may need to demand an emergency UPDJC meeting or an emergency JICM. (Later it is reported that the meetings went well without disturbances.)
Other signatories are also concerned that what happened to the RCSS-led public consultations will serve as a forerunner to their own similar plans.
The decision, not a surprise, is to write to the UPDJC, chaired by the State Counselor herself to see to it that political dialogues at all levels at all locations proceed in peace.
One leader however warns that political dialogues should not be held in an atmosphere of debates, where one says, “We’re right and they are wrong.” Instead, one should explain one’s position, the government’s position, and let the people decide.
The next item is to continue with yesterday’s unfinished job of selecting members for different working committees. The criteria is two-fold: unity of the 8 signatories and capacity. The meeting’s responsibility is to find a balance between them.
It takes more than two hours (counting yesterday’s session) to reach agreement on them.
I also find out that I get more information on the sidelines—during breaks. “More than that,” one leader says. “Some decisions are also reached outside. When you return to the meeting, you only need to announce the result.”
For instance, he explains, there is something called “toilet diplomacy.” When presidents Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines and Magawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia were at loggerheads at one of the Asean conferences, they went into the ladies’ restroom to sort it out. It was the same when the Myanmar representative to Asean got tongue tight about turning down the Asean’s annual chair. He discussed with the Secretary General Ong Keng Yong about his predicament also in men’s restroom. The Secretary General then took the burden away from the Burmese representative to announce Burma’s inability to accept the chair and proposed the next country in line which accepted.
The meeting ends at 18:00 with 20 resolutions, some of which are as follows:
The meeting ends with an address from Gen Mutu Saypoe, the meeting’s chairman:
A dinner party is held in honor of the successful conclusion of the meeting, the Karen New Year, and of the upcoming Christmas and New Year in the evening.
I’m not sure when the party breaks up. Because I’m already heading for home at 21:00.
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