Guest Column

Thirteen Warnings for Myanmar Junta Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing

By Kavi Chongkittavorn 17 May 2021

  1. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, when the ASEAN family met on April 24 in Jakarta, you agreed to the five-point consensus. One hundred and six days have elapsed since the Feb. 1 coup and you have not faithfully carried out those commitments, especially the first one—the call for an immediate cessation of violence against your own people. Time and patience are running out. If this trend continues unabated, ASEAN will not stay idle. When push comes to shove, ASEAN can be very creative in pushing out a wayward family member.
  1. Since the coup on Feb. 1, ASEAN has had to endure all kinds of insults from the world that the 54-year-old organization is nothing but a group of clowns to be laughed at. When the leaders met and agreed a course of action in front of the ASEAN chair (Sultan Hassan Bolkiah of Brunei), their words and agreements were sacred; they must be honored. If you fail to do so, you and your followers in Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, will have to pay the price later on.
  1. Once the ASEAN special envoy has been named by the ASEAN chair, which is certain to be this week, it is advisable that you invite the envoy to visit Myanmar as soon as possible. Otherwise, future working relations could be disrupted. The rapport and trust built at the leaders’ meeting will quickly evaporate.
  1. ASEAN is extremely worried about the increase in armed clashes between your men and some groups of civilian resistance fighters who have managed to equip themselves with homemade weapons. If you think you can defeat them, you had better change your thinking, because these elements could intensify should outsiders decide to support and engage them.
  1. You have until the end of September to make tangible progress to show the world that you really want to bring back democracy and the pre-coup life and living conditions for the peoples of Myanmar. Otherwise the whole world will turn against you. The UN will not accredit your military regime.
  1. Many human-rights activists and foreign pundits have expressed the fear that Myanmar could become another Syria. But they are naïve and wrong. A Myanmar that cannot find peace and reconcile with its own people and ethnic groups would be in a far worse situation than Syria. If the conflict continues, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar would be torn apart in minutes if the 18 ethnic armed groups decided to rise up and defend their longstanding missions and fight back. You must be mad to think you can prevail and stay on top.
  1. ASEAN and the UN are working closely together. You had better cooperate with the world body as well. Christine Schraner Burgener, the UN special envoy to Myanmar, must be permitted to visit Myanmar to talk to all stakeholders. For the time being, ASEAN has been endorsed by the UN Security Council as well as the G7. The global leaders trust in the ASEAN family’s ability to settle their own problems. So, you must keep that in mind.
  1. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested during the Jakarta meeting that you should let ASEAN help you because the group is sincere and works for the regional interest. You should heed his wisdom. Hun Sen credited ASEAN with helping his country, even though Cambodia was not a member of ASEAN at the time.
  1. In your six-page letter to Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha immediately after the coup, you said in the first of your nine paragraphs that the Tatmadaw always keeps to the fore its motto “the People are the Parents”. Today, it is clear that you have betrayed your own motto.
  1. At the end of your letter to Prayut, you asked him to support the Tatmadaw as it makes the utmost physical and intellectual effort to cement democracy and justice. Since then, the Thai prime minister has been feeling pretty bad because you have not fulfilled what you promised to do in return. Do not force him to change his mind.
  1. In the next few weeks, you had better allow the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force to get to work on the ground and allow them access to all areas of the country so that future humanitarian assistance can be distributed quickly to all affected communities.
  1. In Buddhism, what you have done to your people since Feb. 1, with more than 780 casualties, has blown your chance to go to heaven, because today the gate to Naraka (the Sanksrit word for hell—“ng rell” in Burmese) is waiting for you. But you still have time to change your destiny, as well as those of your country and people. Otherwise, you will remain in naraka eternally without any possibility of being reborn again as a better person.
  1. Finally, please do not think you can outsmart your ASEAN colleagues. They are nine veteran politicians leading the world’s most dynamic, promising and prosperous region, which will be the world’s fourth-largest trading partner in the near future. Again—don’t even think about it.

Kavi Chongkittavorn is a veteran journalist on regional affairs.

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