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New Hope for Peace and Reconciliation in Burma

Wagaru Mon

March 02, 2012

The Mon Nation will be reborn under democratic principles with a sense of unity and reconciliation in Burma, the land of hope for a new generation in the 21st century. Pragmatism is the best rule in politics. It is the hope of both Burmese and non-Burmese leaders to reach a middle ground under the new road map for democracy in Burma. This is my reading and interpretation of the peace deal between the Mon and Burmese leaders in my country.
The Mon leaders, the generation of past Mon elites and new Mon generations have the popular support from their homeland and abroad including the US, EU and Australian governments. Australian Senator Mr Gary Humphries recently addressed the Mon National Day in Canberra and acknowledged that ‘Mon people deserve self-determination and freedom’ in Monland, and the Mon National Day shall be celebrated as “Mon Independence Day’ in the future.

Brave new Burma is undergoing a national reconciliation for peace and unity with the sincerity of political leaders among Burmese and Non Burmese elites; an effort that is attracting further investment in the market economy from resource rich nations toward one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. It is a long road to peace and a painful journey for reconciliation. The mission is possible if undertaken with a sense of acceptance of diversity and unity for the common purpose of serving the people for a better place to live and enjoy humanity's experiences of enlightenment in the Buddhist dominated and culturally rich land.

A peace deal signed by delegates of the government and the New Mon State Party (NMSP) this week has indicated that both parties agreed ‘to continue talks on national reconciliation, based on political compromises with participation of representatives of domestic national political parties and democratic forces’.

Political compromise is the factor that will test this peace deal with other unprecedented issues on border trade, local economy and development, access to natural resources and rights to collect levy/ fees from local farmers in border and regional areas by both parties. In fact, NMSP has duty of care to it’s over 7000 members for welfare and other healthcare like the government’s public servants. NMSP’s leaders put their faith in the hands of President Thein Sein and peace maker, Minister Aung Min with a sense of unity and reconciliation.

Well regarded Mon leaders, led by Nai Rot Sa, Deputy Chairman of NMSP and his well-informed delegates understood the risk but have calculated these risk factors and have deemed them acceptable in the circumstances.
According to a source from Moulmein, a top official of the National League for Democracy wishes to urgently meet Nai Rot Sa, as he is regarded as the most flexible and pragmatically approachable politician among non-Burmese ethnic leaders for further peace and national reconciliation. Nai Rot Sa built a united voice of 17 cease-fire forces from 1995-2005 during ten years of informal cease-fire deals with the previous military government for constitutional changes at the former National Convention.

Nai Rot Sa and six other cease-fire leaders from the Shan, Mon, Ka Yan and Pa Long ethnic groups issued an official statement on 1 March 2001,12 February 2002 and 1 July 2003 for ‘peace and unity’ among people of Burma between the ruling military elites and non-Burmese nationalities. Despite the genuine effort of the ethnic leaders for ‘peace and unity’ during 1995-2005, the ruling military singled out nine key figures of the Shan political leadership on 9 February 2005 accusing them of links to the armed Shan forces. The hope of peace and unity diminished from this event until the new election in 2010.

Despite the setback of the peace process in late 2004, the ethnic cease-fire alliance signed a letter to the National Convention’s Chairman on 13 February 2005 for reviewing the proceedings of the Convention that reflects democratic standards and principles. During 2003, 28 armed and non-armed ethnic organizations with a total of 89 delegates participated at the National Convention for ‘peace and unity’. In fact, NMSP’s leaders played a key role in the alliance. Nai Rot Sa, the Deputy Chairman of the party garnered well-earned acknowledgement for his role in the process.

A test of NMSP and other Mon leaders is whether the scope of ‘compromise’ and room for negotiation for further legitimate executive powers will be seen in the next 3-6 months. The Mon leaders including Monks and youth alliance amended the Mon State (Remonnya) Constitution in 2006 at the Mon National Conference in the liberated areas. This draft document, the best of its kind for a State Constitution in Burma shall be widely disseminated and debated in the next few months. If this constitution is not officially tabled at the next peace deal, the peace process is likely to drag on longer with sense of loss for the past 10 years of making deals for cash for development and cash for road construction.

Nai Hongsa, General Secretary of the NMSP, the most respectable figure among the new Mon generation said over the phone from his mobile office in the border area, “we don’t fight for welfare rights, but we fight for political rights and identity for over 60 years’. This cease-fire paves the way for our united efforts among all ethnic leaders for a political settlement on the table’. Nai Hongsa is a spokesman for ethnic alliance, United Nationalities Federal Council.
Ko Ko Hlaing, Burmese President Thein Sein's chief political adviser, reconfirmed to the national media this week ‘The military government at the time changed the approach. Successive governments since independence had made many attempts at reaching ceasefire agreements with the minority groups, but they all failed. That's because the government held the position that the ethnic groups must first disarm, but the rebel groups did not believe in this deal, he said, adding that they wanted to keep their arms for their own security. There was no trust between the government and the rebels’. After the break down of the peace process in the past 60 years, both Burmese and non-Burmese leaders have come to the middle ground for their own legitimacy in political history.

Mon State has been a hub of commercial and agricultural lands in the last thousand years and during British and post-British era. Tavoy Port is at the door of Mon State. A future prospects in Mon State for a booming economy and foreign investment is vastly attractive to new investors only if peace is signed and sealed legally and constitutionally.

The new Peace agreement is the first step for a lasting and unconditional cease-fire and ceasing civil war. It is the brave new Burma, and a chance for the leadership of NMSP and other Mon leaders seize an opportunity for transition. A pragmatic character is what counts and what must be shown. It is the best hope for Mon and Burmese people after gunfire has stopped in the country.

‘The U.S. should insist that the killing stop before large-scale aid dollars start. All parties must reach a cease-fire, and implement a five-year roadmap establishing a federalist system that allows ethnic areas to self-govern according to their own languages, customs, faiths, and traditions. Through the World Bank and IMF, the U.S. should work aggressively to ensure that ethnic enclaves are reintegrated -- politically, socially, and economically,' said Stanley A.Weiss, the Founding Chairman of Business Executives for National Security in the US, whilst advocating for a lasting peace for Burmese people.

After 15 years of searching for room for peace, space for unity and scope for compromise in politics, the Mon and former rulers of the Monland, and the Burmese reached a lasting peace this week, though it must be acknowledged that it is a long and painful road leading to peace and unity. It is only a meaningful peace if the leaders of our country put the national interest and democracy ahead of cash for development and power. It is time that the Mon ruling elites and the Burmese rulers read the history of the Mon and Burmese regarding diplomatic relations and the wars and conflicts that took place from 11th -17th century. Mon and Burmese, former enemies in history and members of the anti-British alliance have finally come close to a peace and unity deal that will hopefully sustain the golden land as a place of joyful human beings. 


More articles from issue 02/3 More articles from issue 02/3
More articles from issue 03/2

Fate of Ten Kidnapped Villagers Unclear

Media and locals Star Struck from Suu Kyi’s Visit

Can Two Become One?

Stranded Seafarers Back On Course

Boat stranded at sea sighted off Mon State

A Letter from Mon State

Burmese Workers Form Labor Union in Three Pagodas Pass

Despite Appeals, Border at Three Pagodas Pass Remains Closed

A New Hope: Commemorating the 255th Hongsawatoi Day

Railway to Transform Relationship between KNU and Burmese Government

Vehicles 'Appropriated' for Karen State Ministers Visit

Authorities Refuse to Grant Permission for Mon Commemorations in Rangoon.

UNFC Threatens Renewed Fighting if Violence in Kachin State Continues

Former Mon Political Prisoner Recounts Arrest by Intelligence Services

‘NMSP Should Learn from Me’ Says Nai Seik Chan

New Journal to be Launched in Mon State

Former Political Prisoner Considers Return to Political Scene.

Two NMSP leaders Granted Freedom

Prominent Mon Monks Sponsor Language and Literature Programs in Mon State

NMSP to Profit 250 Million Kyat in the Sell of Licenses

Mon Parties Respond to Public Opinion By Joining Forces

Who Win and Who lose in Burma’s By-elections in April 1?

The Wait is Over but the Game is on for the Real Test of Leadership

Mon Party Loses to Suu Kyi's Unbeatable Name

NLD Candidate Leads in Moulmein

Wax Ballots Prevent the Vote for NLD in Moulmein

Mon Party Vows To Win a Seat in Moulmein

MNDF Leader Not Given Passport Extension

Despite Promise, Burmese Government Fails to Release Mon Political Prisoners

Mon Community Leaders to Take Hold of 100 Schools

Two Mon Parties Still Fighting About Party Name

Improved Medical Services to Come With New Private Hospital

New Sea Port for Mon State

From Armed Battle Ground to Legal Battle-Line: Cease-Fire &National Reconciliation in Burma

MNDF to Register After Coming Election

One Billion Kyat Loss in Anin Village Fire

Refugees to Return to Burma?

Election Commission Rejects Suu Kyi's Campaign Locale

Mon Rebels Give Up Arms to the Burmese Army

New Hope for Peace and Reconciliation in Burma

Massive Blaze Destroys Mon Market in Sangkhlaburi

I will devote my life to fighting for freedom," Says Prominent Mon Monk

The Future of the NMSP and Party Values

Beyond Racial Politics in Burma

NMSP Agree to Third Round of Peace Talks

Will NMSP Sign Peace Agreement With Burmese Government?

Gambling Hidden Till after Chief Minister’s Visit

Four People Released After 160,000 Baht Ransom Is Paid

Mining Business to Regain Some Success as Peace Comes to KNLA Brigade 6

Mon National Day and Me

"Fighting In Kachin Must Stop If Mon Ceasefire Is To Be Signed"

"Mon Deserve to Have an Independent State," Says Senator Gary Humphries of Australia

Mon National Day Celebrations Allowed in Rangoon for the First Time in 17 Years

Patient Care In Jeopardy as Safe House Faces Funding Shortages

Second Round of Peace Talks Between Mon and Government Officials

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