Myanmar: Despotic Personality Cult to Replace Military Dictatorship

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Aung San Suu Kyi. Courtesy: Romeo Gacad

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 26 March 2016

On 4 January 1948, Myanmar, aka. Burma, finally threw off the shackles of its former colonial master, the British Empire, and regained its independence after 124 years of despotic and totalitarian rule. The return of autonomy and a unified nation state, a decades' long struggle fought by the Burmese people, was in part orchestrated by Major General Bog Yoke Aung San following the demise of the British Empire after World War II. Aung San's meteoric rise as one of the country's saviours did not last for long though as he was assassinated on 19 July 1947 by the British Secret Intelligence Service, aka. MI6, in a desperate attempt to derail the nation's return to independence. However, his passing had little effect on the country and its people who were used to the death and destruction meted out by the British Empire.

Nonetheless, given the nature of the peoples' struggle against the Empire, Aung San was quickly deified by the Burmese population who believed, as they do today, that an independent Myanmar would not exist were it not for his activities.

However, as oft is the case, all is not what it seems.

It is worth noting that an accurate reading of history, unlike the selective and sanitised propaganda used by politicians and the mainstream media for their their own nefarious purposes, narrates a somewhat different series of events. On the one hand, the position of power and authority that Aung San accumulated in the 1940's was primarily facilitated by the Japanese who saw an opportunity to fight a proxy war against the British Empire in Burma. On the other hand, for Aung San, his allegiance to Japan was simply a matter of seeking assistance in ridding his country of its imperial oppressors and lasted for as long as it took him to secure his own power base. When peace in the region finally returned in late 1945, the British Empire attempted to reinstate colonial rule but by this time Aung San, a former communist and now an ardent socialist, had other ideas. In other words, to the British Empire, Aung San had first been a threat, then an ally, then a threat again, and his liquidation was simply expedient.

That Aung San fought for Myanmar independence is not in dispute, neither is the fact that he was just another opportunistic military despot, not too dissimilar from the ones who currently maintain a stranglehold over the parliamentary process in the country to this day.

What is interesting about the rise and deification of Aung San in Myanmar is that at first he was reviled by the West prior to, and during, the country's brief period of independent democratic rule from 1948 to 1962. Thereafter, following the military coup d'état of 1962 and direct rule by a military revolutionary council, which has consistently eschewed the West and all that it represents, Aung San has been lauded as the epitome of democracy.

Enter the 70 year-old daughter of Aung San: Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and, supposedly, an advocate of freedom and democracy, who is about to become the de facto, if not the de jure, President of the nation.

Suu Kyi's rise to power, similar to the pacifist approach of Mahatma Gandi of India, has been a long time in reaching fruition. However, the key difference between Suu Kyi and her Indian mentor is that she has traded heavily on both the West's dislike of the Myanmar military Junta and the esteem and reverence the people held, and still hold, for her father to reach high office. While Suu Kyi, as the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy which is know to be a subversive organisation primarily funded by the West, may have languished under house arrest for 15 years before being elected to the Pyithu Hluttaw, Myanmar's lower Parliamentary House, in April 2012, she has become more noted for collecting awards in the West for doing absolutely nothing rather than actually achieving anything at home.

Suu Kyi has been a member of the lower house in parliament for nearly four years and has very little to show for it. When the Rakhine State riots erupted in June 2012 , a sectarian conflict between Buddhists and Muslims, aka. Rohingya's, in the far west of the country, Suu Kyi claimed that the Rohingians were not Myanmar citizens. Three years later, the sectarian issues that sparked the riots in the first place have continued to fester and the persecution of the Rohingians have now become so entrenched that many of them are fleeing from the country. Later that same year, in the city of Moywa, in the northern State of Sagain, a number of local protestors, including Buddhist monks, were protesting against a copper mine nearby which was stealing land from local farmers, polluting the environment and creating health risks for the general populace. Again, Suu Kyi, who arrived at the scene in March 2013 in an attempt to placate the protestors, actually did nothing to alleviate the situation claiming that the country needed the mine more than the country needs its people, their health and their farms. Within weeks of her visit, most of the local officials were bribed to remain silent and instructed to subjugate the protestors while land grabs and pollution continues to this day.

More recently, in the general election held last year on 8 November 2015, most of the ethnic minorities in the country, including the Rohingya's who remain in the country, were denied the right to vote. The authorities claimed they were not citizens of Myanmar because they only held a temporary identity card, a fact that had not precluded them from voting in all previous elections. Suu Kyi remained mute. In other words, the Nobel Peace Prize winning laureate who is supposed to epitomise human rights and democracy not just in the West but also throughout the East, did absolutely nothing as hundreds of thousands of Myanmar nationals were unilaterally declared non-citizens.

The truth is, Suu Kyi cares little for the Myanmar people. She is, like her father and the military Junta she is about to replace, a power hungry despot determined to capitalise on the personality cult created by her family and the West for her own gratification.

The people of Myanmar have but a few days before this cult begins on 30 March 2016.

Those who aspire for high office have already become corrupted by the process.
Ann-Marie de Veer