Exclusive Interview with Major General Zaw Min Tun, Spokeperson of SAC . (Part - III)
NP News - Exclusive Interview with Major General Zaw Min Tun, Spokeperson of SAC . (Part - III)
Q: There are a group of people that they don’t believe no matter how much the Defense Services disclose the evidences, proofs, or sound information (for the electoral fraud) saying that they don’t believe as these proofs are disclosed by the Tatmadaw. So, is there anything else that the Defense Services can reveal?
ZMT: If they want to check detail, they can visit the UEC and can check as they desire. We’ve already showed the oral statements of the former UEC officials. They’ve already admitted that they had to report to the government about the election; the government summoned them and instructed; and the then-president U Win Myint told them no need to clarify the dispute. Why did a president tell them not to clarify the issue? If they are nothing to do with the issue, they must have been ready to clarify it. However, there were many rumours and disinformation (not just misinformation) so that the public would be deceived, intentionally. We are encountering the issue what will you choose between ‘the truth’ and ‘the majority’. When a large group of people say something in-group, some may also be saying the same thing even though they know it isn’t true.
It is witnessed that many people are denying and refuse what is happening in the reality related to the terrorist acts or the vote-rigging although there are sound evidence and proofs. This is what people are behaving conforming to the large group of people. You may know about ‘Herd Immunity’ in this Covid period. ‘Herd Mentality’ is the issue in which people become think the way what many people are thinking and they become lost their logical thinking or critical thinking. They do not raise the questions. They do not debate anymore. Lack of reasoning and no abstract thought lead to injuring the public; killing people; and even causing the war. The individual believes that they will be outcast if they do not think the same way what many people are thinking. On the other hand, many situations have been fabricated to deceive the public. We urge the public to be aware about the ‘Herd Mentality’.
Q: In this incident, why did the Defense Services arrest U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi even if a coup (preserving the power) is inevitable because of the vote-rigging?
ZMT: The main points were vote-rigging and its consequences. We requested to clarify the electoral fraud. But they didn’t. So, who was holding the state power at that time? Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that she is sitting above the president. If then, aren’t they the most responsible persons to make it clear? Then, why didn’t they do it? We found many other unlawful acts when we carried out a wide range of probes into vote-rigging. That’s why we arrested and detained them as they are the most responsible persons. What is more, you might notice too, a letter was disclosed by U Win Htein when we had taken the power. The letter was inciting to oppose the government and to perform public protests. U Win Htein confirmed that it was given by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, crossing his heart. In that condition, what shall we do if we don’t detain them? That is what we carried out in line with the law.
Q: Of course, the Defense Services took the office as vote-rigging arose. However, other unlawful acts were also found later as the authorities started investigating the vote-rigging. Is that true?
ZMT: Many other unlawful deeds have been discovered since we started digging the truth.
Q: After taking the office, leaders might have recognized their responsibility. In the current condition, the public is living with threats and concerns. What message can you give us upon this public’s concerns?
ZMT: Tatmadaw has full responsibility for the development of the country and the safety of the people after we took the office. We are doing our best for the tranquility and prosperity of the public, accordingly. However, many hindrances and disturbances are interfering with the normal functioning processes. Now we open the schools but the terrorist attack and shoot to the schools; and kill the teachers. When we arrested the murderers of a teacher, who was killed in Yangon, the sad truth is that the stalkers scouting around her while she was going out was her pupils. Those children are underage though. This is the result of the ‘Herd Mentality'. Terrorists armed themselves; they killed innocent civilians; lately, they even murder those from their group. We will be able to control those terrorist attacks in a certain period. Notwithstanding, the issue related to the ‘Herd Mentality’ have to be resolved in a long-term plan.
The protests started on February 7, 2021. It was a peaceful protest till the next week at that time. Accordingly, the Defense Services didn’t take any action against those peaceful protests. Later, they transformed into mobs and violence attacking polices and security forces; and blockading roads and railways. In those cases, Tatmadaw had to perform an effective prohibition. Now, they have been completely turning into armed terrorists since February 2021. After July, sabotages increased after the NUG/CRPH called for D-Day. Roughly four or five bombings occurred per day in the whole country before they called for the D-Day. On the day they declared the D-Day, 14 bomb attacks occurred. The worst thing is they kill the civilians for no reason. Dr. Ba Maw said (in the bygone history) regarding the armed aggression, “Youths enjoy armed themselves after General Aung San was dead.” We are worried about this matter as it is opposing democracy. We understand that the public is terrified in some territories. We would like to urge the public not to encourage armed assaults for the public interests and social tranquility.
Q: We take that the SAC is facing burdens in international relations. In fact, the NUG is seemed to have an upper hand in this context. Not only the international pressures, but the SAC is also encountering many domestic problems. How does the SAC control these challenges? What is the most difficult to resolve? What is the biggest punch for the SAC?
ZMT: In the international context, some countries understand and support us while some countries want to rule and manipulate us, especially the west groups and the UN. The UN undergoes some irrational matters unilaterally. It lets the NUG’s representative attend the meetings. Everything is related in this matter to each other including internal strife and regional tensions. American-led military-related security organizations like AUKUS or QUAD perform military exercises near Southeast Asia and the countries territorially connected to China. Their main purpose is having influence the regions including in Asia-pacific and the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, Myanmar is the weakest country in this region as we have many internal affairs. The west groups have been intervening in our domestic affairs since before.
Myanmar (the State Administration Council) maintains friendly relations with all countries. We will continue exercising independent, actively participate and non-aligned foreign policy. We won’t move away from our aims and visions by virtue of those pressures. We will continue formulating the five roadmaps accordingly and as per the political objectives, social objectives, and economic objectives.
Q: In today political situation, what will the SAC emphasize? Will it be the international recognition or internal peace?
ZMT: The Commander-in-chief already told, during the meeting with the ASEAN leaders, that we will cooperate with the ASEAN’s demands as much as we can, depending on the internal stability. We will be focusing on the domestic peace and stability.
Q: We’ve noticed that Asean’s perspective on the SAC is changing. Why does it happen? What do you think why they have changed their policy? Is it on the SAC or Myanmar?
ZMT: Not all the Asean countries are changing. The media is writing what they want. There are many things behind the scene. Many pressures have been revealed within recent months and days. For example, the trips visited by the American vice-president, American’s assistant secretary of state, US’s national security advisor, and the trip that will be visited by England’s foreign minister. Which countries did they go to? What did they discuss? When the US’s official visited Singapore, the US urged Singapore to make restrictions on Myanmar. This is the intention to make Myanmar face more difficult situations by using the Asean members. We all know who the mastermind behind this is. Of course, those pressures are stressing Myanmar at this time. But it will be stressing again on another Asean member the next time. For instance, some countries told us they won’t recognize us or they don’t invite us because we are practicing a system that doesn’t conform to them. As a matter of fact, Asean members have different political systems, different religions, and different cultures. If the Asean Charter and non-interference principle aren’t abided by, the countries that are practicing different political systems will be pressured in the future. They should have forecasted these possibilities.
Q: Unexpectedly, the armed insurgency has arisen in our domestic affairs. When we study the coup d’etat that happened in bygone history, now the era has been changing a lot. In fact, many digital platforms have developed in recent years. Do you (the SAC) find more difficulties as today's technology is the digital era? I mean current military leaders were just majors or captains in 1988. But now they are encountering the digital revolution. Is it difficult for the Defense Services?
ZMT: Every situation has its own hardship. I learned that the BSPP left no state budget at all at that time, so the former military leaders had to deal with that situation. Now we are facing the instigations incited through Facebook. As a matter of fact, Facebook is becoming the world for rural people in some regions. They think that information from Facebook is true. We should handle this issue. Therefore, your question makes sense and it is a good point. We are always dealing with the disinformation that is incited via the digital platform.
The second challenge is … when it was in 1988 uprising; the global center was the balance between NATO and WARSAW. Global issues at that time depended on those two groups and the world polarities involved East Europe, Cuba, or the Middle East regions. Lately, the polarity has been moving to Asia-pacific and the Indian Ocean regions. Asia-pacific will be more important. When they (the west group) are trying to control the power of China, Myanmar is involved in an important role. That is why they are trying to manipulate the situations in Myanmar to be happened as they wish – using digital technology tools and Facebook. They all are trying to make those manipulations not only for just one country (Myanmar) but they aim to exploit and formulate their desired models in this region. We are dealing with those challenges. So, I would say every situation in a different era has its difficulties.
Q: We assume that Russia and China are the friendly nations for us (Myanmar/the SAC). So may I ask in what cases do they (Russia and China) cooperate with the SAC and in what cases/situations, they don’t?
ZMT: Generally speaking, both of them cooperate in all sectors. They are cooperating with us; and there are many potentialities that they will be cooperating with us in the future. For instance, there are only three nations which donate Covid-vaccine to Myanmar – China, India and Russia. Meanwhile, other countries have received the Covid-vaccine for three or four times under the UN programs. Myanmar has not received from them. But they tried to falsify that they provided aid to us (Myanmar). The IMF previously accused that US$ 372 million was missing. They make-believe it was an aid. Actually it was a loan, not an aid. I have already clarified publicly that the loan was used for what category on what date for what purpose. Like we said, our country has used the digital media platform straightaway. Unfortunately, people have little capacity to think logically at the mean time. They use that weak point for exploitations. For the matters related to international relations, we have relatively a good relationship with our neighbors and India; not only with Russia and China. In fact, Russia and China are the strategic friendly nations for us.
Part 4 of the interview will be continued ….