- By Sinpyukyun Than Tun
With absorbing and deep interest, I have the pleasure of reading the book entitled “The Lady, I and Affairs of State” authored by Thura U Shwe Mann. Generally speaking, the author is not necessary to introduce to the public as he is a well known figure in the country, and that he has touched on a theme to quench the thirst of the majority who wanted to know over the subject. When I put down the book after reading it, a desire rushed into my mind to share the subject matter with the esteemed readers.
The book “The Lady, I and Affairs of State” is about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Thura U Shwe Mann and Myanma Affairs. Just look at the title, one will not be able to resist the urge to read it if one is interested in Myanmar politics or person hunting for information on history.
The interesting events in the book centered through the period between 2014 and 2016 which were in fact worth to study. A simple thought crossed in my mind that it would be beneficial for the readers if some of the terms used in the book are hooked up with the relevant definitions. However, the writer of this article has no such expertise to pull up the interpretations out of the book. However, I take the liberty in sharing the definitions as much as I could go for.
The Herculean task of Thura U Shwe Mann in the early part of 2016 was in convening second Hluttaws. At that time the National League for Democracy Party, after winning the general elections, was wondering who would be coming forward to convene the Hluttaw. We witnessed that the fluid and uncertain scenario had occurred immediately after the 1990 General Elections.
Thura U Shwe Mann rang the bell and called for convening second Hluttaw. He was the Speaker of the First Hluttaw (2011-2015) and convened all the Hluttaw meetings. The convening of second Hluttaw was the most crucial task at a time of critical condition in the country. It could be termed as the most decisive act for the country.
As far as I could remember, the last session of the First Pyidaungsu Hluttaw was convened in January 2016. The Speaker, Thura U Shwe Mann expounded as follows.
He said that the sovereignty of the nation belongs to the people and that whoever holds the sovereignty of the state under any circumstances must entrusted the power back to the people.
It was mentioned on page (52) of the book. What the writer of this article remembered was the words of General Ne Win, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. He declared that the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) happened to be the peoples’ party, and therefore, the state power was entrusted to the people’s party. It was in the year 1971 when the BSPP convened the first Party Congress after the BSPP evidently transformed into the people’s party.
There were widespread criticisms that such transfer of state power should not be carried out in such a way. The state power and the sovereignty of a nation could never be handed over or entrusted into the hands of a political party. The sovereignty belongs to the people and therefore, the state power is to be handed over only to the people.
In October 1958, the then Prime Minister U Nu handed over the state power into the hands of General Ne Win systematically through the Parliament. The state power was in the hands of the Revolutionary Council until March 1974 when the first Pyithu Hluttaw convened.
At that juncture, the Revolutionary Council was reorganized. The newly formed Revolutionary Council was a fresh one different and dissimilar to the previous Revolutionary Council and that new council absorbed the directives of the BSPP.
On the page (60) of the book, it was highlighted as follows.
After the 2015 General Elections, the second Pyidaungsu Hluttaw first day meeting was convened on 8 February 2016, and that U Htin Kyaw was elected as the President. Thura U Shwe Mann decorated with the words that She (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) seemed to be very happy which reflected on her face; that I was also happy and felt the ecstasy; that it was due to the reason that I could fulfill and served the ardent desire of the people with my good wishes and my efforts.
What permeated into my mind were the words such as that of “I could fulfill and served the ardent desire of the people with my good wishes and my efforts”. This valuable word could be evaluated and gauged with the assessment of the RFA interview.
An interview had taken place between Thura U Shwe Mann and the RFA on 13 June 2013 which was mentioned on page 80-86. These pages revealed the valuable information on modern important events and critical attitudes. The past crucial events that occurred between 2011 and 2013 were unfolded. Thura U Shwe Mann touched on the theme such as that of the necessity in changing the mindset; that of his fear on pitfalls when the relevant people do not understand the essence of democracy and going ahead in an unruly journey; that of the biggest challenges existed in the country he thought of to rectify.
At that stage, Thura U Shwe Mann might have heavier challenges on his shoulder than the task in changing the mindset. Thinking of the priority, the necessity in the changing of the mindset of the people has come to the forefront when compared to the democratic reform for the sake of socio-economic development, and the rule of law.
In the middle of 2013, the top leaders in the political arena of Myanmar have had a stormy weather, however, the necessity of changing mindset was carried out with might and main as it was in line with the democratic norms. It is not the theme and the talk of the day. It was the talk that had taken place at the interview in the middle of 2013 with the RFA Media. Although the democratic reform is always on his mind, but the necessity of changing mindset was pressing and pushed ahead.
At the moment, the topic on the changing of mindset is the buzz word among us, and talked repeatedly. The word federal union has been repeatedly conversed and written. Federal means the sharing of power and sharing of natural resources. It also means sharing the land in harmony and unity by staying together, the critical concept of federal. It is really regretful to witness that this concept could not be put forward to roll ahead.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on many occasions spelled out to the people to reveal what one can offer to the country instead of what the country could give them. I think she meant the spirit of staying together in unison among the brethrens. It was quite clear that the mindset is very important.
The writer of this article would like to take the liberty in mentioning some sentences on the page (78) and from the back cover of the book.
Thura U Shwe Mann has written that Mindfulness and steadfastness are required in order not to break the paddle while rowing or not to lose direction while traveling, as old Burmese sayings go. He believes the she (The Lady) and him (Thura U Shwe Mann) are among those who, when confronted by such a situation, have employed discretion, foresight, wisdom and courage in dealing with the challenges, without losing track of our common vision.The author of this article has a lot of complexity in defining the meaning of this book. On 29 January 2002, a photograph regarding a meeting is inserted showing Senior General Than Shwe (Retired), Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders. The conversation at the meeting with Senior General Than Shwe (Retired) was mentioned on page (49-51), however, the date was not clarified. Perhaps, the meeting took place after November 2015.
Moreover, the notable event occurred on 12 August 2015 was also opened up. The page (42) depicted the failure at the poll in the general elections. The episodes mentioned in the book were crucial and critical in the chronology of Myanma affairs having impact in the internal affairs as well as foreign relations.
When Thura U Shwe Mann opened up his heart and soul as an army general, state leader and politician along with the changing pattern of life, he unveiled and touched profusely on the lofty subjects such as greed, anger, ignorance and arrogance which brought negative impacts. When digging the background of the events, the direction was aimed at the root cause of the issue in the context of background circumstances rather than personal matters.
The author of this article is not in a position to evaluate on the defilement and attachments in the religious sphere. My intellect is not that high. However, the anti-corruption drive, the democratic transition, and the aspiration and building of federal union are intertwined and tangled with the necessity of changing the mindset. At the same time, internal feeling such as greed, anger, ignorance and arrogance have much influence over the changing of mindset.
The book being produced by Thura U Shwe Mann is a moderate one in size. It may sound simple that a person has merely unveiled his part of life and written in his own personal style, but the person is extraordinary who have had engaged and involved in Myanma political landscape and also in the democratic transition, and still active and mobile in the nation building. In conclusion, the writer of this article bears the view that this book is a good reference for the persons who are interested in Myanma affairs.
Translated by UMT