I happened to read an article entitled "The Myitsone project and hydro-power project" written by Han Thar Myint in the August 22 issue of D Wave Journal.
The writer is a member of the economic committee of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), while D Wave Journal is the party's mouthpiece. Han Thar Myint in his article says the whole content is only his personal feelings, not related to any individual or organisation. However, what he has said might be related to the organisation he represents.
It can be deduced from the article that he accepts the Myitsone project. "Hydroelectric power should not be generated from the Ayeyawady River. Such projects must not be built at the two tributaries of the Ayeyawady. They (people) should not blindly deny building dams," said Han Thar Myint. "I feel as though they had no intellectual honesty if they say so without consideration," he commented in the article.
The article was published just as State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrived back from her China visit. At a time when there is growing concern about the situation as Suu Kyi has not publicised what she discussed and negotiated with China over the Myitsone project during her visit, the journal has featured the article meaning to support the project.
I have frequently said that whatever government comes to power in Myanmar, there are three major issues over which the people have expressed concern. The first is China-sponsored projects including the Myitsone dam project and Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project. The second is the Bengali issue in Rakhine State and the third mismanagement and corruption.
As the Myitsone issue has yet to be settled sparking public concern, the Rakhine issue has come to a head again.
On August 24, state-run newspapers announced the plan to establish an advisory commission on Rakhine State. The commission formation is not a problem but its memberships are controversial. It is formed by the Ministry of the State Counsellor's Office.
What is strange is that the commission will be led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Besides, two more foreigners belong to the commission. They are Ghassan Salame, ex-Lebanese Minister of Culture and UN Special Advisor to Kofi Annan, and Laetitia van den Assum, ex-Special Advisor to the UNAIDS and ex-Netherlands' Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
The nine-member commission includes six Myanmar citizens. They are Win Mra, chair of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission; Dr. Thar Hla Shwe, president of Myanmar Red Cross Society; Aye Lwin, core member and founder of Religious for Peace, Myanmar; Dr. Mya Thida, president of Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of Myanmar Medical Association; Khin Maung Lay, member of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission; and Saw Khin Tint, vice chairperson of Rakhine Women Association.
Apart from Saw Khin Tint, no respected and reliable Rakhine national leader belongs to the commission.
The commission led by a foreigner, not a Myanmar citizen, has to compile and submit a report to the government through the state counsellor within 12 months after its establishment.
I don’t know why the government formed this sort of commission for this moment. But it’s questionable.
Kofi Annan is a former UN secretary general and also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But just these facts cannot make sure that this commission is reliable.
Because Kofi Annan would not know details about the Myanmar history and background between Rakhine ethnic people and Bengalis. Aung San Suu Kyi officially said in 2012 that the Rakhine issue was caused by insecure border and immigration problems.
In other way, it’s meant to be an internal affair. Normally it’s hard to believe in a foreigner to handle the internal issues.
While Rakhine ethnic people are not satisfied with the United Nations’ biased decisions on Bengali issue in their state, a former UN secretary general should “absolutely” not be appointed as an advisor for the Rakhine state issue. Then the commission is made ‘biased’ since the beginning.
What if the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine State Advisory Commission advised that Bengalis should accepted as citizens, that 1982 Citizenship Law should be abolished, that Myanmar should re-accept more than 4.2 million Bengalis calling themselves as Rohingyas from Rakhine State living outside it?
It should be noted that the whole country would not accept these advices even if Aung San Suu Kyi accepted them or the NLD-government accepted them.
To repeat again, the Bengalis are not Myanmar citizens or they should not be given equal citizenship rights without being examined in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Law. Especially before U Nu-government in 1955-56, they didn’t even exist. So their existence should be decided according to the history before 1955. And they should be decided in accordance with the Rakhine ethnic history, but not with the history when U Nu bought votes then. The 1982 Citizenship Law should be the decision-maker for the issues after the U Nu-government.
Another fact which we don’t believe in former UN general secretary is owing to situations happened in Afghanistan in 2001. He won Nobel Peace Prize that year. However it makes many Buddhists from all over the world cried.
A group of Muslim extremists dynamited monumental statues of Standing Buddha carved over 2000 years ago into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in Afghanistan on March 12, 2001. Annan, who was UN general secretary at that time, cannot prevent it.
Another case is Kojo Annan, son of Annan. Rumour came out that he accepted a bribe from a Swiss company Contecna Inspection SA in December 2014. At that time Annan is serving as UN secretary general. The company won the tender to a program which food can exchange with oil supervised by UN.
Annan asked for to form an independence investigation commission from the U.S for the accusations made on his son. The commission concluded that they have not enough evidence to charge Kojo Annan. However Benon Sevan, who was worked in UN for 40 years, was found guilty. He has been assigned by Annan to work in the program. He insisted many times he was not guilty and some said he had been used in order to cover the crime.
If UN assigned Annan to lead the commission to gain favour from international including western countries, it is not a way to solve Rakhine issue. It can be very dangerous for the country if it is not solved. So I think it will not be realistic to make Annan to lead the commission.
The problems happened in Rakhine State are insecurity in border, immigration and internal affairs just like Suu Kyi said four years ago.
Many countries are facing such immigration issue including India or European countries. The subject should be handled by local Rakhine ethnic leaders, reliable leaders from both sides and fair persons from executive pillar.
If the commission determines that Bengalis should be given citizenships; the 1982 Citizenship Law should be amended or annulled; Myanmar should allow 4.2 millions of Bengalis from other countries; or they suggest something disregarding the sovereignty of Myanmar, then what the government will carry on?
The government has formed investigating commission regarding with Myitson Dam recently and let the person who does not get along with Kachin ethnic to lead. Now the government has formed another controversial commission to solve the Rakhine State affairs. There might be problems. The former government formed many commissions in its term. All commission performed what the government preferred. Once the government obeys and implements the determinations of the commission, the government is responsible for it.
There is only one thing that the government needs to be aware. That the public voted and elected the NLD government is not that giving it five years chance to do Myitson Dam or Bengalis issues as it desires.
What is more important is the 21st century Panglong Conference is incoming soon. Meanwhile, there is no sharp outlook regarding with Myitson, which is most invaluable place for Kachin ethnic. Now, the government gives decision making power to foreigners about the Rakhine issue which is very important for Rakhine ethnic. Those actions will effect on incoming Panglong conference. Approaches done by the government for Myitson Dam Project and Rakhine issue are in wrong way.
Anyway, Shan, Kayin, Mon, Kayah and Chin ethnics are standing together with Rakhine and Kachin. Behind them, Bamar ethnic stands there. If the government carries on wrong approaches against with those two groups (Bamar and ethnics), I would like to ask the government why it wants to do that? What it wants to do that? Why it does not have sharp decision? For whose interest it want to do?