CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A successful peace process will depend on the efforts of the new National League for Democracy-run government, said the ethnic Shan Sai Mauk Kham, former vice president of Burma and former chair of the Union Peace-making Working Committee, on a visit to Shan communities in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Thursday.
Currently a Lower House parliamentarian representing Lashio for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Sai Mauk Kham expressed his sympathies for the thousands who have been displaced by fighting among the Burma Army and multiple ethnic armed groups, which continues in the Shan State.
“As we all know, fighting is not good for either side,” he told The Irrawaddy. “The Restoration Council of Shan State, a signatory of last year’s nationwide ceasefire agreement, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army have their own reasons for fighting, but this causes the public to suffer.”
“I have not proposed any legislation in Parliament [to stop the conflict] as I am still studying the parliamentary procedures and protocols,” he said. “The new government is working on a new peace process, and we must wait and see how the Tatmadaw [Burma Army] and the newly formed peace committee will proceed.”
Sai Mauk Kham stopped in Chiang Mai, home to a large Shan community from Burma, on his way to receive an honorary doctorate in educational administration from the Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University on May 15.
“I am honored to be acknowledged by a world-famous university for what I have done in the fields of social work and religious affairs,” he said.
Prior to becoming a politician in 2010, the devout Buddhist was head of the Shan State Literature and Culture Association, and has been recognized for promoting Shan culture by helping to found Shan State Buddhist University in 2014.
His election win last year was not without controversy, however, with the candidate dogged by allegations of voter fraud in the days following the Nov. 8 election. The Shan State election subcommission ultimately declared him the legitimate winner.