April 23, 2013

Pang Long Agreement: Making it Simple - S.H.A.N

Feb 07, '12

Many times, I have been asked by young people what the Panglong Agreement is all about. They’ve heard and sung The Promises of Panglong, a song written by Sai Kham Lake, many a time. But when they read the text, they have never been able to make head or tail of it.
Naturally, I have always tried to comply with their request the best I can. But the requests continue each and every year.
So I hope the Agreement Made Easy here will serve as a quick reference for the younger generation, instead of myself, whose Anicca (Impermanence) is becoming more and more certain as the clock ticks by.

First of all, the opening paragraph shows that the agreement was signed between 4 countries: Burma, (Federated) Shan States, Chin Hills and Kachin Hills, all of which believing that Independence would be speedily achieved by their immediate cooperation.
The 9 point agreement follows.
  1. A member of the Frontier Areas will be appointed to deal with the affairs of the Frontier Areas
  2. The said member will be a minister in the interim government of Burma led by Aung San
  3. The said Minister for Frontier Areas will have two deputies
  4. The two deputies will be entitled to attend meetings where the affairs of the Frontier Areas are discussed
  5. The Frontier Areas will enjoy full autonomy in internal administration
  6. Myitkyina and Bhamo districts will be reserved for the future Kachin State
  7. Citizens of the Frontier Areas shall enjoy rights and privileges which are regarded as fundamental in democratic countries.
  8. Financial autonomy vested in the Federated Shan States shall be maintained
  9. Kachin Hills and Chin Hills will continue to receive financial assistance from the revenues of Burma. It will be examined whether the financial arrangements similar to those between Burma and the Federated Shan States can be applied to Kachin Hills and Chin Hills.
Chao Tzang Yawnghwe (1939-2004) wrote later:
The thing that impressed the Frontier Areas leaders most at the time was the Burmese offer of 3 cabinet posts of 1 Counsellors and 2 Deputy Counsellors in the Governor’s Executive Council. With this one stroke the Frontier Areas leaders were placed above the Frontier Areas Administration. It was a scoop and a sensation. Here was a case where the Burmans, whom the Frontier peoples never trusted, were offering them something that placed them on the same political level with the majority race. This was so much more attractive then the Frontier Areas. Regulations that sought to perpetuate the subordinate position of their leaders. In the Frontier Areas Regulations, The Governor was a white god to be approached only through the Frontier Areas Administration. In Aung San’s offer, their leaders became working colleagues of the Governor. That was how Aung San and Tin Tut carried the day at Panglong-it came quite as a surprise to many people who thought the Frontier Areas peoples would never throw in their lot with the Burmans in the plains.
Actually Panglong Agreement was the only possible outcome since the British by that time seemed to have already decided to leave Burma. No alternative offer of Dominion status was made by the British Government to the Frontier Areas. Burma proper could not do without the Frontier Areas which constituted nearly half of the total area of all Burma: nor could the Frontier Areas people stand alone. The Panglong Agreement really was a deal for mutual benefit, and if the Burmese leaders had been less magnanimous they would not have won the trust of the Frontier peoples.
So the question now is: Are today’s Burmese leaders as magnanimous as those of the Panglong era? If they are, they don’t have to worry about the non-Burmans leaving them. But if you are worried and you are ready to go to any extent to stop people from leaving you, my bet is that you won’t be able to stop them until all of them are wiped out of the face of the earth.


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