Minorities Still Neglected, Say Ethnic MPs

Ethnic MPs stand on the steps of Burma's Lower House of Parliament on July 17, 2012. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Ethnic MPs stand on the steps of Burma’s Lower House of Parliament on July 17, 2012. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

The rights of Burma’s ethnic minorities are still not being respected despite recent political reforms, according to ethnic members of the country’s Parliament who expressed dissatisfaction with the administration of President Thein Sein.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday during a trip to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, around a dozen ethnic MPs noted that Thein Sein has not appointed a single member of a minority group to any senior union-level positions.

They said they were especially dissatisfied with the fact that most of these posts have gone to generals or former generals. No ethnic representative were included in a recent cabinet reshuffle that saw the appointment of 11 new ministers, they added.

“They talk a lot about giving rights to ethnic people, but it’s all just on paper,” said Khuang Ling, a Lower House MP from the Chin National Progressive Party.

He said that different MPs asked Thein Sein to appoint some ethnic representatives to positions at the  union level, but their proposal was turned down.

“The government is talking a lot about the promotion of ethnic rights through media outlets such as radio, TV and state-run newspapers, but in reality, they are worried about giving a position an ethnic representative,” said Ba Shein, a Lower House MP from the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

Even at the state level, many ethnic people say that they are not really fully represented. In Mon State, for instance, Chief Minister Ohn Myint claims to be ethnic Mon, but does not speak the Mon language and is generally regarded as a Burmese general, despite having some Mon ancestry.

The ethnic MPs also complained that their proposals in Parliament—on everything from the teaching of ethnic languages to poverty alleviation in remote areas—have received very little attention from the government.

“We have tried to make many proposals to address the needs of the people, but to no effect,” said Khuang Ling, who noted that his home state remains the poorest in the country because the central government has done nothing to assist with improving transportation infrastructure.

Min Myo Thit Lwin, an Upper House MP from the All Mon Regions Democracy Party, said that the government doesn’t want to encourage ethnic language education because it has long pursued a policy of promoting Burmese culture at the expense of other cultures.

“The government keeps saying that it will be difficult to teach Mon, but we are already prepared to do it ourselves, without their help,” he said.

Under Burma’s former military regime, it was illegal to teach ethnic minority languages to children. Those caught doing it were often received prison sentences.

Some ethnic MPs noted that the government rarely uses the word “union” to describe the whole country these days, preferring instead to speak of “national politics”—a preference they saw as an attempt to erase Burma’s identity as a union of numerous ethnic groups.

“It’s wrong to talk about ‘national politics’ in a country formed by many different ethnic peoples,” said Dixon Tun Lin, an executive member of the Karen People’s Party.

5 Responses to Minorities Still Neglected, Say Ethnic MPs

  1. Start with broken promises ,  and sugar coated words, the true color of Bamar colonization over ethnic states.  Most oversea Burmese mission represents only Burmese culture and history. Look at the dress of Burmese ambassador, all with gaung baung and longyi. Is it in true spirit of brotherhood?

    • To be fair Gaung-paung and Longyi are for Lu -byat. The gunmen (Sit-tut if you prefer) try Lu-byat dress to see there would be any objection from educated, snobbish elite. No. They follow like puppies. Gunmen call their OWN place Naypyidaw. See the educated, snobbish elite follow. Yes they do.

      There is no note these killing, raping thugs can holler and the millions of lemmings will refuse, led by fashionista cheerleader.

      Oh, the ethnics! Simple. So long as all that the ethnics are interested in is same mind with them for selfish reason as you just described, there is no reason whatsoever to to indulge the needy and greedy. They are simply to be used, abused and exploited.

      See it is ONLY the selfless ones, one cannot exploit. But as ALL are in desperation and needy and greedy, the Generals who are there first have their way literally paved with gold.

      Ambassadors with Shan Dress! Sure it will make the country better. ? Pa-O? See the country has more Kachins killed since Aung San Suu Kyi put one on.

  2. George Than Setkyar Heine

    What happened when EVE fell PREY to SATAN (the snake)?
    She had to GO INTO LABOR since the beginning of history/time until today man, if you don’t know yet. 
    The SAME could be TRUE for the Karen, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, Chin, Kachin and the lot calling themselves ETHNIC PEOPLE of BURMA today. 
    Than Shwe and his lot at Naypyidaw CRAFTED their CONSTITUTION (we named it Nargis) and DUPED the lot (you guys and Daw Suu and her people including) to SWALLOW the BAIT (hook, line and sinker as well) and GET ELECTED into Than Shwe/Thein Sein run PUPPET PARLIAMENT today just to HOODWINK the US led West while they CRAFTED and SCHEMED all the time to GET the SANCTIONS LIFTED of course with a view to LAUNDER their ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH and further STUFF SOME MORE DOUGH (dollars) into their WALLETS as well ultimately. 
    Today Obama and his lot in the West as well have been DUPED and LIFTED the SANCTIONS as well. 
    Of course Than Shwe nor his clerk (Thein Sein) has NOTHING for YOU (ethnic people) since day one and until today and specifically the sanctions have been lifted. 
    They are having a CLEAR FIELD and there is NOTHING to STOP THEM from further SUBJUGATING you, Daw Suu and her people and of course the people of Burma as well in the NAME of BURMA’S PROSPERITY and POSTERITY, a CATCH PHRASE only in USE to SHACKLE Daw Suu and GIVING HER the TASK, DO ALL the  DIRTY LAUNDRY (ethnic issues, rule of law, corruption etc. running rampant in Burma) LEFT by Than Shwe and the lot while holding the reins of Burma since day one until today. 
    DIVIDE and CONQUER is their GAME today man!
    KNLA/KNU is SPLITTING into TWO GROUPS led by the RENEGADE Mutu Say Poe and his outfit and the other by Baw Kyaw Heh according to the bad news making the rounds today. 
    When MONEY, OPPORTUNTIY and POWER are  THROWN into the GAME  you guys would THROW your FRATERNITY, LOYALTY and AUTONOMY not to mention HISTORY as well TO the WINDS I know. 

  3. Bama colonization started and moulded by the colonial British. Now it is more intensive.  Ali Tanggoon

  4. Pang Long Agreement was not honored by U Nu administration and the civil war followed the Burmese independence. Now, the Thein Sein administration is not even at the level of the U Nu administration. The ethnic peoples have been fighting for what was stolen from the Pang Long Agreement for the last six decades. The Union of Burma we want to see is not military junta. In the Hlutdaws and in the government(Executive Branch, Legislative Branch and Judicial Branch) many soldiers with or without uniforms are still controlling power. Especially, in the Hlutdaws, soldiers with uniforms and members of USDP who are in plain clothes with 100% mentality are the result of Thein Sein’s fake reform and undemocratic government which will never meet the expectation of the ethnic peoples. If the U Nu administration could not satisfy the Kachins, the Shans, the Mons, the Karens, the Kayahs, the Rakhgines and the Chins who have been asking for Federal System in the Union, there is no way Thein Sein fake reform will satisfy these ethnic peoples. Please do not blame the ethnics but you the Myanmars who have been betraying us for too long. When we ask for food, you give us bullets. When we ask for freedom, you give us prison. When we ask for self-determination, you come to us and attack us. This kind of tactics will never bring peace and tranquility. We never ask for money but our own rights which was stolen from us by the Myanmars. Thein Sein’s effort is not even at the level of rejected U Nu’s effort. So, Thein Sein is leading us into longer trouble and more problems.

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