A ‘dinosaur’ People of Burma do not need
Re: An election, people of Burma do not need (by U Win Tin, Washington Post )
U Win Tin’s rage on the coming 2010 election reaffirms the NLD
hardliners’ hysterical loathing upon an essential feature of
democracy - elections - particularly the coming one in which his
party is not anymore certain to win.
The 2010 election, with all its ‘imagined’ imperfections as
portrayed by its critics, is still considered as the only way-out or
solution for the country’s debilitating crises; not only by the
nation but also by the UN, the ASEAN and Western governments
which have been supporting Aung San Suu Kyi and all of those
who ‘worship’ her. That explains why the UK and the U.S
governments are demanding the junta that the coming election be
comprehensive, meaning Suu Kyi and the NLD be allowed to
U Win Tin is out of line with all of them in opposing the election.
He forgets that politics is only an art of the possible. The trouble
with him, and the NLD leadership by extension, in this regard is
that the leading global powers such as China and the U.S exist in
order to fulfill NLD’s political needs, not the other way around.
This will eventually compel Western governments to redirect their
pressure toward people like U Win Tin and NLD, switching from
U Win Tin called the last election in which NLD had won, ‘a free
election’ and prejudged the next one coming, ‘a showcase election’
despite the fact that it is the same junta who is the holder of both
The next election may not be a perfect one meeting U Win Tin’s
standards which he has yet to set, but after twenty years time,
situation and personalities are vastly different.
Twenty years ago the NLD won an easy victory in an election.
However, it was unable to materialize the prize in negotiating with
the power incumbent, the junta government. The NLD felt state
power is a due, as something to come to them on a gold platter. On
the other hand, the military seemed to have felt it had made a ‘false
start’ to which an advantage was taken by the NLD.
Rather than handing power over to the NLD, the junta shifted to
‘development politics’ and contained the NLD by keeping its
leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and her mentor U Win Tin, under lock
and key. Now U Win Tin has been released on clemency,
considering his advanced age. He quickly picked up his old fight
against the junta, which in their absence had gained scores in
discrediting the NLD’s style of politics, particularly regarding the
For twenty years, a confrontation had consumed the country. It is
only now the ruling side has offered a way-out by means of
The Burmese regime is still a military junta. But, in pursuit of
legitimacy, it had changed its working style beginning a few years
The junta, in seeking recognition from neighbors as well as from
the international community, started allowing responsible media,
respectable multilateral agencies and neutral diplomats to monitor
its handling of issues of international concern, such as Cyclone
Nargis. It showed - to see the way it has received Sen. Jim Webb -
that it is ready to pay ‘any price it can afford’ in exchange for what
it wants --- reconciliation through normalization--- with everyone.
The 2010 election will be the next big thing for these actors on
Burma to vigorously test the junta’s sincerity and goodwill.
One thing to note is that, even while in the hands of the junta, U
Win Tin can write a fiery article in the Washington Post, blatantly
breaking the junta’s law that threatens to prosecute anyone who
opposes its ‘Roadmap’ or the election. He, himself a writer and
journalist, definitely knows the power of present day foreign factor
upon the Burmese junta. The next election will be held in such a
time and environ much more different from the 1990 elections.
If the NLD under U Win Tin’s influence chooses the path of self
isolation, it is nobody’s concern but its own. What he may not
notice is that his rejection of the election may practically serve the
regime’s purpose, which is to keep the NLD out of its way, and the
better if the latter persists on non-cooperation.
After all, rejecting an election on partisan stand is ridiculous in
view of the common people of the country.
Those who had missed their chance to vote in 1990 because they
were under eighteen are now 37. U Win Tin may not have an idea
of how many are in such group. They (18 - 38) could be half of the
country’s whole population, i.e., 28 million, who are in the most
socially, economically and politically active age bracket.
Whoever denies the basic right of such a big chunk of population
under whatever pretext is not a ‘democrat’. It does not matter he
or she belongs to a party that bears the word ‘Democracy’ in its
Finally, it is unconvincing that U Win Tin’s anti-election stance is
predominant in the NLD. Rumors about a split over policy
between himself and the other leaders who had held the party
together in his absence leaked long before his article in the
Washington Post. U Lwin once answered to a BBC Burmese
Program’s query on the 2010 election saying, “NLD is a political
party and political parties are founded to stand in elections.”
His answer may be vague but these old guards have a measure of
support from the party’s more flexible caucus. More and more in
the NLD wish their party ‘a fresh start.’ U Win Tin seems to be
waging an ‘inner party struggle’ and seeking supports outside the
party, particularly from exiles abroad.
But an exile NLD MP who has settled down in U.S lately told
Burma Herald that he does not mind another election in Burma
simply because “the 1990” has been so far back in the past. That
they could not retain power in 1990 was unfortunate but it should
not be used as a block to hamper the new generations’ right to vote
or get elected.
U Win Tin concludes his article vowing to fight on without a
compromise. His rhetoric sounds more of a teenage freedom
fighter than a seasoned veteran politician who is leading a major
political party. This is typical of Burmese politicals who have
spent all their life bearing the regime’s brunt, concerned more of
their credits which can be translated to personal glory when they
are no more, than of realistic and achievable political goals.
They do not care they become political dinosaurs from another era.