- Dagon Taryar
During the colonial period, those who struggled for independence were considered politicians. They were the kind of people who lived in poverty and worked tirelessly to attain independence for their country. They graduated from universities and could have had a professional career or become a salaried employee, but instead chose to fight for freedom, even if it meant sacrificing their lives. In Myanmar, you did not have to go far to find such a person. This person was Aung San. Ko Aung San earned two degrees, in Arts and Law, which qualified him for many well-paying jobs. But he decided to take a different path.
Many remember a story about Ko Aung San when he was General Secretary of the Dobama Asiayone, a Burmese nationalist group formed in the 1930s. The group was short of funds during the pre-independence period. During this time, Ko Aung San bought Indian pea tempura for two pyas for dinner and drank water. I say “story,” because I am not sure that those who are brought up today can conjure up the image of a politician from the old days, one who is unselfish and often does not have enough to eat. In the minds of some, their image of a politician can be different from the ones of the colonial era.
During the period of Japanese rule, during which there were no visible political movements, the image of politicians was very different from today’s. In the Fascist period, politicians were not on a stage. They had to work in secret. Their efforts in those days are now called an underground movement, or an underground revolution. Thakhin Aung San became a general during that period. He became the General of the Burma Independence Army, the Burma Defence Army, the Burma Army and the Burma National Army and War Minister of the cabinet. He also became a politician. After the war, the British government offered him a high military position, but he declined and worked instead as President of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League. When he became a member of the temporary government formed on the verge of independence, he served as Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council, or 5th Premier of the British-Burma Crown Colony by the new British Governor.
As these events occurred, Bogyoke (General) Aung San became widely admired by the people. In fact, the image of politicians from that time are closely related with the people.
(From Thammarziwa and youthful literature and arts)
Translated by Aye Min Soe