U Yee Mon is the spokesman for the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a body representing the lawmakers of the National League for Democracy (NLD) elected in the 2020 general election. He spoke to The Irrawaddy recently about the prospects for federalism in Myanmar, a national unity government, a national unity consultative council, a federal army, the possibility of civil war and the stance of ousted leader State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
First of all, I would like to know why the CRPH was established?
Lawmakers are those who the people have given a mandate to. Now that the whole country is under the boot of the military, we believe that the responsibility to oppose the coup has fallen on our shoulders. This is why the CRPH has emerged.
The CRPH is moving in the right direction in an orderly manner so far. It has won strong popular support. And all the CRPH members are safe so far. And we have the strength to move forward. This is encouraging.
Can you explain about the government to be formed by the CRPH?
We now have an acting government led by acting vice-president Mahn Win Khaing Than. Soon, there will be a new government formed under the mandate of the 2020 election. That new government is intended to be a national unity government (NUG).
It will comprise both NLD and non-NLD members, especially ethnic leaders. We are holding wide-ranging discussions. Along with the NUG, the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) will also be formed.
The CRPH on March 31 issued a ‘Federal Democracy Charter’ and also announced the annulling of the 2008 Constitution. In fact, the charter was not entirely drafted by the CRPH. It was drafted and approved by at least four groups, including elected lawmakers and political parties, CDM (civil disobedience movement)/strike leaders, protest leaders, and civil society organizations representing women and youth. The NUCC will be formed based on those four groups. The NUG in consultation with the NUCC will implement the political roadmap outlined in the Federal Democracy Charter.
Young people are especially interested in the idea of a federal army. Could you explain how the CRPH is preparing for this?
As we will establish a democratic federal Union, we need an army that will safeguard that Union and that system. The federal Union army must be first a professional army and not one that uses violence against civilians, second, it must be under the management of the civilian government, third, it must be comprised of different ethnic groups.
The current military are overseen by the military council and, far from protecting the people, it has become a terrorist army that mercilessly kills the people. And it also looks to maintain its dominance in politics by using force. Under such circumstances, it has become the responsibility of the legitimate government to implement security sector reform. We have to prepare, train and organize systematically for this.
Can you explain which ethnic groups and leaders have participated in drafting the Federal Democracy Charter?
I have said that the charter is the common agreement. Due to the restrictions on individual groups given the current situation, we agreed that the CRPH should take the responsibility to issue the charter.
Though the Federal Democracy Charter generally outlines the rights of ethnic states, it does not clearly state the territory of the Bamar ethnic group or the other regions. Can you explain?
A parliamentary session will be held to design a federal democracy constitution according to the roadmap outlined in the Charter. The structure of the federal units will be designed along with the constitution.
Some people are frustrated with the CRPH, saying that the group can do nothing more than issue statements. What has the CRPH done and what are the improvements on the ground?
We understand that there is some frustration. The CRPH has taken responsibility for the future of the country. It is working to resolve the political crisis that has been going on for more than 70 years, while fighting the military dictatorship.
Discussing federalism is not as easy as it seems. We need to take time to avoid making mistakes. Only when we can build national solidarity, will we be able to win this fight. If we win this fight, it is fair to say the country will become a federal democracy.
People know what the CRPH can do. Issuing statements is part of our work as politicians to inform the people.
There are suggestions that civil war may break out when the people’s resistance to the military dictatorship reaches its peak. Do you think that will happen? What support will the CRPH provide if it does happen?
People, including Gen-Z, are determined to remove the military elites who have bullied and exploited the country for so many years. Myanmar’s Spring Revolution will use all the means possible. Whether there will be a civil war will depend on the military.
People across the country are resisting the military coup in various forms. The death toll is nearly 600. How long will people have to continue their resistance?
We feel as much pain as the people who have lost family members to the junta. What I can tell now is we are finding ways to end this game in a short time.
Is the CRPH open to negotiating with the military council, as some regional countries have suggested? If so, how will the CRPH negotiate? If not, why does the CRPH choose not to negotiate?
It is said politics is war without bloodshed and war is politics with bloodshed. There can be negotiation to reduce bloodshed. But we can’t forgive and forget. The military must answer for its arbitrary killings. It must be willing to abolish the 2008 Constitution and implement the roadmap outlined in Federal Democracy Charter. Then the channel for negotiation may be open.
How will the CRPH use the donations made by the public?
We are very grateful to the people who have actively raised funds for the CRPH. To answer your question, we will use the funds on works to establish the federal democratic Union.
Ethnic groups are concerned that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD leaders will not endorse the current commitments if they are released. What does the CRPH say about that?
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a very charismatic leader. We believe she would accept that solutions (to solve the crisis) can change depending on time and circumstances.
What is your message to the people of Myanmar who are anticipating a people’s government and democracy?
It is the people themselves who will decide history. I would say that public support is vital for the CRPH.
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