On This Day

The Day Myanmar Honored an UK MP for His Panglong Efforts

By Wei Yan Aung 16 February 2020

Yangon – On this day 39 years ago, Arthur George Bottomley, a British MP, was awarded the Aung San Tagun title, the second-highest honor given to those who have served the interests of Myanmar. He is the only non-Japanese citizen to be awarded the title.

On Feb. 16, 1981, military dictator General Ne Win officially awarded the title to Bottomley for his contribution to the historic Panglong Agreement in 1947.

In 1947, as British Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s under-secretary of state for dominion affairs, Bottomley led a special government delegation to Myanmar (then Burma) for the crucial constitutional talks.

He was involved in the 1947 agreement as a British government representative and provided recommendations in support of the lowlands and rugged border areas gaining independence together. He also urged the British government to accept the Panglong Agreement. Attlee praised his actions.

Military dictator General Ne Win awards the title to Bottomley in 1981.

The Independent newspaper quoted Bottomley as telling the House of Commons on May 20, 1947: “I was greatly impressed by the attitude of Aung San, his obvious sincerity and his readiness, at all times, to meet the wishes of the frontier area people. He was particularly forthcoming on the point of granting internal autonomy, and giving them financial assistance … I am confident that a happy understanding can be reached with Burma under his leadership.”

Despite a hectic schedule after the Panglong conference, independence hero General Aung San sent a letter to Bottomley on May 26, 1947. He said the country was determined to secure total independence but that did not mean the independent state would distance itself from the UK. When the time was appropriate, he said he would use his influence to build strong bilateral ties.

Bottomley visited the country three times after the Panglong Conference, in 1962, 1966 and 1981 to receive the title.

The seven other Aung San Tagun recipients were Japanese instructors who provided military training for 30 Myanmar citizens, including Gen. Aung San and Gen. Ne Win.

Bottomley died aged 88 in 1995 in London.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko