What would be the lesson learned from today's political situations for the Tatmadaw?
NP News - Exclusive Interview with Major General Zaw Min Tun, Spokeperson of SAC . (Final)
Q: We observe that the PDFs take a foothold in Sagaing Region in current situation. And Chin State too. In the bygone history, some regional territories were taken as a foothold by the CPB (Communist Party of Burma). They took a base there and tried to get the state power. Now the PDFs are trying to do a similar pattern. What has the SAC prepared for this issue?
ZMT: Not only the PDF, but other EAOs including KIA and CNF also involve in this issue. They support the PDFs. Generally speaking, we haven’t been able to control the whole territory yet. Insurgencies still arise in northern Sagaing Region and northern Chin State. People in some places are living with fear. For instance, Kabaungkya Village – located in Ta-sei Tsp, Sagaing Region has political diversity within the village before; some are NLD-partisans while some support USDP or others. However, during this crisis, the NLD supporters murder people from other sides. Some households were murdered 16 or 17 family members intentionally by the PDFs. Now they have to flee their villages. In some places, villagers are forced to join the PDF. If not, they are regarded as Dalan (informer to the authorities) and are threatened to be killed by the PDF. We are performing for ensuring to have effective security duties in those territories.
Q: Civilians from those territories have been living in peace before. Now they are stuck in armed conflicts. The PDFs claim those places (Sagaing Region) as their base. The more the PDFs make a foothold in those places, the more chances to have armed conflicts and bloodshed be there. How will you prevent it from arising that?
ZMT: As the Chair of the SAC said, we have a plan to formulate a people’s security system in those places together with the civilians. I cannot say detail yet.
Q: When we study the history of our country, we can see that the Defense Services has been involved in politics in parallel or very often for a variety of reasons since independence. Now it happens again. So … we cannot imagine whether the Defense Services is willing to involve in politics very often. What I would like to know is if it is really okay for the Defense Services to be involved?
ZMT: Historically speaking, Tatmadaw is provided for the role to lead the national politics of the country. It’s a dedicated duty for the Tatmadaw by the historical need. However, our professional duty is to serve the national defense. The Commander-in-chief has already mentioned that 25% involvement of the Tatmadawmen in the parliament has to be reduced and Tatmadaw will be withdrawing from the politics. The country needs to terminate the armed conflicts so that the Tatmadaw can serve the defense duty rather than involving in both defense and political duties. We usually use the term ‘national defense and security’.
The civil war was born together with the independence in our country. Tatmadaw has always been involved in resolving the armed insurgencies since the early period of this civil war. However, we’re sure a genuine democracy will be developed well in one day individually through the peace process. Internal peace is the core element for genuine democracy.
Q: We have observed that the Tatmadaw (Defense Services) has been depicted as villain in the political simulation of the country for the period from 2015 to 2020. Because they paint this sketch that the Defense Services as a villain, the country couldn’t move forward in reality. What do you (Tatmadaw) feel for being depicted as a villain? What do the military leaders consider or decide for handling the arisen issues as they are regarded as the villains?
ZMT: It depends on individual perspectives. Look at the back to the bygone history in Revolutionary Council when the government privatized the businesses. According to the records, the majority of the population in the whole country supported privatization indeed as its purpose was encouraging domestic businesses rather than foreigners. For the opposing side, it was described as forcibly privatization and no one supported it.
Another issue in that era was the ‘communist system’ which was very powerful at that time. The communists infiltrated among the public and defamed the Tatmadaw. Again in 1988, the country faced a vicious experience. Coup d’etat occurred. In fact, Tatmadaw seized the power in the situation of anarchism. The destructive groups well understand that Tatmadaw is the main barrier to have their manipulations effective. Therefore, they became aggressive to and attack the Tatmadaw and its related institutions. And they assault every community which accepts and assumes that the Tatmadaw is the main force for national politics.
Democracy means diversity, not oppressing the oppositions. Now they are killing people from different sides. Leaders of the Defense Services (also the Defense Services) strongly stand for the national defense and will protect the public. That’s for sure.
Q: What would be the lesson learned from today's political situations for the Tatmadaw?
ZMT: We learned how to balance between ‘the majority’ vs. ‘the truth’. And the election is important. An election must involve reasonable representations. Therefore, we are now negotiating and discussing the PR system. Tatmadaw isn’t the first proposing/promoting to practice the PR system in Myanmar. The person, as I learned, who proposed the PR system first in the country is late Dr. Than Nyein from National Democratic Force. He wrote an article with respect to PR. He pointed out three reasons to adopt PR. First is grouping and rifts between different groups. Second, Myanmar people are very attached to someone or something; and have a revenge characteristic. Third, he said, it is the tradition in Myanmar that the voters used to provide the landslide votes for a party. So, only if the more representations involve, the more chance to restore the peace, he said.
Q: Anything else to make a remark?
ZMT: I want to urge the public to be aware of the ‘Herd Mentality'. We have situations in which the outsiders set the frame of what they want us/ our country. The public has to be highly educated about politics.
Thank you for your full information.