Saturday, November 30, 2013

What Burma change after 25 years: View of an exile (Final Part)

Htet Aung Kyaw

Part 3

A few days later, I visited to controversial Dawei deep seaport project area. On the way, I saw Dawei Untiversity Just beside Ka-myaw-kin Bridge over Dawei River which only link between Dawei city and Maung-ma-kan beach, deep sea port and Long Lon Township. This area was only forest in 1988 but now I saw huge university compound. Other words, the authority moved university from city to remote area after 88 uprising as they worry student protest in cities.

After cross an Army based and a big hill, I saw popular Maung-ma-kan beach which I thought wider than (Thailand) Phuket's Patong. But strangely, there is no foreign tourist. ''In the past, the authority not allows foreigners to stay over night in the beach for security reason'' a local restaurant owner told me. But now the security situation is better after the Karen National Union (KNU), New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the ABSDF, the armed groups active this area signed cease-fire agreements this year, he added.

As no foreigners, there is no hotel except colony era old huts. ''But now the Dawei Development Public Co.Ltd (DDPC) build a new hotel zone over there. Htee-Khe border gate is open for foreign tourists and so we hope Maung-ma-kan is popular soon'' a stake holder of DDPC told me. Htee-Khe is located Burma-Thai Border which once our regional head-quarter for the KNU's 4 brigade and the ABSDF's southern command from 1988 to 1997. However, Htee-Khe is now no more armed conflict but economic zone for Dawei deep sea port and Dawei-Kanchanaburi hi-way.

Just a mile away from Maung-ma-kan, I saw a hot spring on the way to Na-bu-lae village where deep sea port project started. In 1988, this area is gray zone which mean rebel troops active and so difficult communication from Dawei. But now situation is totally changed, the Na-bu-lae is the most develop area in region and just 8 hours drive from Bangkok by Na-bu-lae- Kanchaburi hi-way.

Firstly, I saw a raw new big motor road from the western sea to heading eastern Thai border. Many trucks with Thai alpha plate and Thai speaking men are very busy on dusty road. Beside that road, I saw a huge Thai-style control office and project compound. Most people in the compound are Thai and Thai-speaking Burmese. I feel that I'm in Thai's territory although Na-bu-lae is far 130 kilometers from border. In the sea side, the project is just beginning step. White sand and blue water in the sunshine are very beautiful but uncertain future.

A mile away from sea port and office compound, I saw a hundred of new houses for resettlement of villagers. Thousands people from 5 to 10 villages of over 50500 acres land must relocate from their home to that resettlement site soon. Some right group, including Dawei Development Association (DDA) criticized the project is not international standard for transparency and accountability.

A day before left from Dawei, I met some families member of comrades who killing in battle and death in jungle. 87 of 670 casualty of the ABSDF are from our southern commend of Min-tha-mee camp, located near Htee-khe. ''Where is my son, why he not back with you?'' a mum of my close friends asked me. I can not control my tear and I stopped the plan to give confirmation their death. Their families are still believed that their sons still alive in jungle or exile. Should I give confirmation death of their sons while they believed their sons are alive?

After 10 days in Dawei, I back to Yangon by bus. Although the bus and road are still very low quality, I noted a good sign that there is no more security check point by army which extorts money from passengers. I took only 8 hours from Dawei to Moulmein which normally took 2 days in 1988 as we stopped every army extort gates in every hill.

From Moulmein to Yangon, the road is very good if compared in Dawei area. But when I saw the huge road to Nay-pyi-taw, I surprised why totally different Nay-pyi-taw road and the road in the rest of the country. In fact, not only huge road but also huge parliament buildings, government house, ministerial zone, hotel zone, military zone, so on. But no one know where the money coming from, and how much they used to build the latest Asia's remote capital.

This is one of the main challenges to show transparency and accountability in Burma's today transition to democracy. Most people in government and parliament are just only changing from military uniform to civilian cloth, but their mindset is the same as in military ruled era. The NLD, oppositions and ethnic delegates are very limited in the parliament.

Could they get more seats in coming 2015 election and could they amend the current controversial military dominated constitution to the democratic one? No one knows.

But strangely, the international community is very optimizing the current regime's transition plan. I feel that the western world say only ''No'' when the Generals in uniform but they say only ''Yes'' when General wear civilian clothes. Are they forget or trying to forget the men in power are the same men in uniform?

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi warned western investors in EU-Burma summit in Yangon recently. “If you want to make responsible investments in Burma, you must be aware of the political situation in Burma, the peace situation, the social situation, the human rights situation.” she said.

There are dozens of political prisoners including farmer activists still in jail. Cease-fire process with armed ethnic groups is not yet reach to political dialogue. Corruption is still rise in everywhere, especially in civil service. Land confiscate, extort money, cronyism, favoritism are still rise in this country.

However, I can claim the current political situation is better than in the military era in 1990s. Business, Media, human right and some important sector are also better than last 25 years. But if we look back 50-60 years ago the era of Prime Minister U Nu or before first time military coup in 1962, Burma is more freedom and more rich than now.

Therefore, let me conclude the situation in Burma now is only back to square one or ''Status Quo''. There is no sign showing progress but I can claim the country and the government heading the right direction to reach democracy. But the country still needs cooperate from every side, all stake holders and every citizen, perhaps including exile community.

Htet Aung Kyaw is a former member of the ABSDF and former reporter for the DVB. He visited Burma recently as the first trip in 25 years.


Post a Comment


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More