‘Federal Army’ Already Exists, Says Military Chief

Myanmar, Burma, Min Aung Hlaing, United Nationalities Federal Council, UNFC, Tatmadaw

Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing gives a gift to a local police officer in Kyaukphyu, Arakan State, this week. The backdrop is notable for its inclusion of a picture of Gen Aung San, long denied a place of prominence in Burmese history by the former military regime. (Photo: Facebook / Myawaddy Media)

RANGOON — Amid calls from Burma’s ethnic armed groups for the establishment of a “federal army,” the country’s commander-in-chief has claimed that the current military is already a federally constituted institution, owing to its inclusion of ethnic minority members within the ranks.

In remarks made to troops in Thandwe Township during a visit to Arakan State on Tuesday, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing appeared to reject ethnic rebels’ proposal for a military that would decentralize the command structure and see the battalions in certain regions comprised largely of soldiers from the dominant resident ethnic group.

The Burmese government has not yet indicated whether it will consider the ethnic armed groups’ pitch for a future army that is federal in nature, and the issue is expected to be discussed at upcoming peace talks in Karen State’s Hpa-an. Ahead of that meeting, which will likely take place sometime after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Min Aung Hlaing seemed to stake out the military’s position on the issue.

“Different ethnic groups are enlisted in our army and our army is the Union Army. This is why our army needs to build up union spirit. It is the duty of everyone in our army to avoid misunderstandings between either individuals or battalions,” said Min Aung Hlaing, who commands a fighting force, known as the Tatmadaw, that is made up largely of Burmans, the country’s ethnic majority.

During a visit on the same day to Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service reported that Min Aung Hlaing told the public that he wanted Burma to practice “disciplined democracy,” adding that the military would participate in the realization of this goal.

“We want to have real, disciplined democracy. This is the first time I’ve told the public,” Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying. “We really want to become a democratic country. We want to have similar [system of governance] as other countries that have enjoyed peaceful and stable development. We are working to attain it. We need to have peace, rule of law and unity.”

Burma has undergone a series of political reforms since 2011, after nearly 50 years of military rule. The junta presided over a withering of the country’s economy under the mismanaged policies of the generals’ “Burmese Way to Socialism,” and a number of ethnic armed rebel groups waged war against the central government, demanding greater autonomy or outright independence.

Reformist President Thein Sein has made peace with the various armed groups a major priority of his administration since he took power in 2011, signing ceasefire agreements with more than a dozen of them.

Hkun Htun Oo, a leader of the ethnically affiliated Shan National League for Democracy, said Min Aung Hlaing’s authority did not transcend that of the Constitution, adding that only the Constitution could determine what form a future military in Burma might take.

“There is a Parliament and Constitution in the country. He does not have power to decide for it,” Khun Htun Oo said.

The current Constitution, drafted by the military and enacted in 2008, gives the military significant power, but discussions propelled by the ethnic armed groups and Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), have focused on amending the charter or scrapping it altogether.

Khun Okkar, secretary of the alliance of 11 ethnic armed groups known as the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), dismissed Min Aung Hlaing’s comments as merely the general’s personal opinion. Ethnic armed groups, Khun Okkar said, were not yet fairly represented within the ranks of Burma’s military.

The UNFC leader said the comments were likely intended to downplay a growing call for discussions about the issue among the ethnic armed groups.

“I found that he wanted to make light of the issue, which we want to talk about,” Khun Okkar said.

10 Responses to ‘Federal Army’ Already Exists, Says Military Chief

  1. In the background picture of the above news “Federial Army Already Exists” says Min Aung Hlaing, why is’nt the photo of the General Smith Dunn in it, he was the first Chief of Staff of the Burma Army after Independence, is it because he was a Karen? Can Min Aung Hlaing show how many etnic minorites Generals are their in the Army now, if you are not of Burmese race you will not be promoted beyond the rank of Colonel, therefore the Army now is not a Federal Army.

    • Oh dear thein han
      You make the best point on child soldier, min aung hlaing to have him painful feeling. He can not get proud of what he is and what his bama than shwe’s private army is.
      General smith Dunn is the greatest fighting hero for Burma and the greatest and respectable soldier for Burma in term of moral and ethnic points of view as a soldier. General smith Dunn was never involved in politics and country business when he was a soldier after receiving the first outstanding military award in his military training among other foreigners in fair competition( it is the great difference between the notorious OTS, DSA and British defense academy in term of training) . It means the quality of the racial population is more important than those of the quantity in the aspect of ruling the country and in the ranking of the federal army if formed. Min aung hlaing might claim that bama are the highest population to have more controlling or ruling in federal army but not more responsible in ethical and moral aspects. I agree with DASSK if she makes clear that in term of ethical and moral characters, bama should be more responsible because of only bama language is available in Burmese schools. The photo of the late general smith Dunn, military award winner and model soldier for all Burmese is sided with the same level of general aung san who is a smart politician with his “one kyat slogan”. All ruling Bama general ( current or former-Ne win, khin nyunt, maung aye, thein sein, shwe mamn, ming aung hlaing and etc ) are killers and rubbish. They are criminals against humanity. Their photos should not be displayed forever.

  2. he question of how a federal army should be formed, squarly rest on the shoulder’s of a law -making body, which represents all stakeholders, not just the Burman ethnic group sitting at the driver’s seat. We, at the moment, don’t have such a body and so, establishing or forming it will be the first priority.

    As far as I could recall, the ethnic armies understanding is that they will take care of their individual state, say like state defence force; and the union defence would be pooled from each states, which would then form the Federal Union Army.

    For the time being, the Burma Army would be seen only as representing the Burman and not the union as a whole. A few non-Burman ethnic soldiers under the banner of Burma Army don’t become a Union Army, so long as the power structure is wholly dominated and made up of Burman officers and generals.

  3. Child soldier min aung hlang, “the country’s commander-in-chief has claimed that the current military is already a federally constituted institution, owing to its inclusion of ethnic minority members within the ranks.”
    Ming aung hlaing is a lair and i do not believe he know how to spell the “federal army” in English as well as the meaning of federalism in Burmese. Ming aung hlaing thinks all ethnics have low education so he say so above without daring to look at his school teacher who might teach him do not lie anybody as a matured adult being. In tiger story, the child lies the villagers that there is a tiger coming to make a threat although it is not the case. The child laughs at the villagers being anxious about the threat of tiger. When the real tiger come to village to make a threat to the child, the shouting from the child for seeking help from the villager is in vain and the tiger kills the child ultimately. Ming aung hlaing is child soldier so he makes a lie to the villagers for his laugh now. Ming aung hlaing thinks all ethnics are villagers. Let see when the tiger will bite him to death.

  4. Min Aung Hlaing is extremely loyal to Tamadaw but he should know that Tamadaw is not elected by citizen. They do not represent citizen’s desire.
    Government (not this current government) is the true body that citizen elected.
    True professional soldiers should protect the truly elected government and the country. If his loyalty ends only for the Tamadaw, then he is a mecenary. You can buy a mecenary. There is always a price but professional soldier can never be bought.
    We should have “Real” federal army like in the past (Kachin rifles, Chin rifles…..). Army leader should be promoted, based on capacity and not on race. Just because Bamar population is majority doesn’t mean senior officers should be Bamar ! Smith Dunn, Smite are all Myanmar but they are kicked out because they are not Bamar. Shame.
    We should be one for all and all for one in Federal Myanmar.

  5. In the picture Min Aung Hlaing is giving a gift to the Navy Commodore (Bo Hmu Gyoke, Army equv. Brigadier General). Not a local police officer.

  6. Federal Army is already existed in Burma, it also is true that Buddha has already reincarnated, Christ is already returning and Burma is the greatest and free country in the world. What a joke!!!!!!!

    • I love to do what no one knows but is always wondering I might not have much but what I do is no life anyone’s wants but I do it for a work out while done and I need everyone else who doesn’t know to keep thanking and talking

  7. We do not expect words with wisdom from idiot person like Min Aung Hlaing.

  8. Min Aung Hlaing was born and raised by thieves and robbers. There is no way he may be able to see things rightly. He cannot differentiate between dictatorial military and federal military.

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