Cracks in the Castle Wall
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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GUEST COLUMN

Cracks in the Castle Wall


By MIN ZIN SEPTEMBER, 2009 - VOLUME 17 NO.6


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Therefore, if the military wants to create a new political party or parties, it must ensure that they do not bear any resemblance to the USDA in terms of name recognition, resources or intimidating power.

Perhaps these concerns are the reason the regime keeps delaying the promulgation of the electoral law, which was reportedly ready to be published early this year: Than Shwe wants more time to secure his bet for more power. Meanwhile, however, the credibility of the election and the legitimacy of the new power arrangement it is intended to put in place have already been hurt by the likely non-participation of the NLD and the refusal of several ethnic ceasefire groups to disarm or participate.

In fact, the opposition could create leverage by remaining outside the regime’s election process while opening a new proxy front within the regime’s game plan. Even if opposition groups don’t take part in the election using their current organizational identities, they could set up proxy political parties to participate in the 2010 election. Through these proxy parties, the opposition could attempt to maximize civilian control of the post-election parliament.

At the same time, opposition groups such as the NLD, the New Mon State Party and others must stand strong in opposing the “illegitimate” constitution and election and continue their fight for genuine reconciliation. Just because they loathe the undemocratic constitution, the opposition should not consider total disengagement from mainstream politics. The opposition must be savvy in combining both inside-out and outside-in strategies to usher in political change.

In fact, the formation of proxy parties and participation in the 2010 election will help prevent a split within the opposition groups. Otherwise, policy disagreements between moderates and radical activists within the NLD as well as individual ethnic groups might lead to open splits when the election law comes out and the junta plays more rounds of divide and rule. Proxy tactics could also help bring new recruits to the opposition movement.
However, no one should harbor any illusion that the presence of opposition proxy parties in the 2010 election will spark a magical power shift to civilian control. That will happen only if there is sufficient public pressure to challenge the military-dominated status quo, forcing the military to negotiate with the opposition, which would then be in a position to push for a genuine transition to democratic rule.

Another factor that could determine the success or failure of the approach outlined here is the ability of non-military MPs to maintain a sense of common purpose. There is a danger that parochial interests will blind non-military MPs to broader issues, or that self-interest will lead them to compromise their reform agenda. Non-military MPs would not necessarily form a monolithic bloc or be unanimous in their approach to the military’s domination. Vote rigging and intimidation in the election could further undermine the chances of a genuine opposition presence in the parliament.

That said, however, the contradictions embedded in the constitution will provide unprecedented opportunities for those who seek to break the military’s hold on power. If a moderate military leadership emerges in a post-Than Shwe era, those proxy MPs and ministers who are in the mainstream can work with them for gradual reform. In the event of mass demonstrations on the streets, proxy parties will be well-placed to play a role.

The opposition should be creative in opening a new proxy front as part of a multi-pronged strategy to exploit the cracks in the junta’s fortress.



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Seng Wrote:
08/09/2009
I agree absolutely with the view

Maung Hla Wrote:
02/09/2009
It seems like some people see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I wonder why the Burmese opposition takes so much time to find these "loop holes" and keep rejecting the election. A small number of Burmese scholars have pointed out the possibilities of civilian domination earlier at the cost of oppositions' criticism. It is good to see the rest are following the path of those who have seen the light earlier. Perhaps, it is a maturity of knowledge from Western education.

Eric Johnston Wrote:
02/09/2009
Don't place more faith in the generals observing their constitution than in observing their laws. They will continue to do as they please. For them it is just a piece of paper to deceive the gullible. A public relations exercise.

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