Shedding light on shadows from our country’s past

By BBS U Win Tin
Volume 31, No. 613
February 6 - 12, 2012

Soldiers march beside Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Yangon as part of a ceremony to mark Martyrs’ Day on July 19, 2011. Pic: AFP

MUCH has changed since President U Thein Sein took over the reins of government in Nay Pyi Taw in March 2011.

However, more visible changes are needed. There are some who clamour that the present administration is another military government in civilian attire, and that the Revolutionary Government, Burma Socialist Program Party Government, State Law and Order Restoration Council Government, State Peace and Development Council Government and the present government are all basically the same. I for one see things differently. It is true though that most members of the present government are former senior military officers and belong to the Union Solidarity and Development Party

In addition to all the changes we have seen to date, I think there are a few additional things that can be done to show all concerned here and overseas that there has been a complete break from the past, that this government operates differently from its predecessors and is focusing on national reconciliation.

1. The statues of Bogyoke Aung San in Kandawgyi Park and Resistance Park

The time has finally come for these areas to be improved and landscaped properly, with gardens, flowers water fountains and floodlights, as befitting the status of the national hero and founder of the modern Tatmadaw.

Resistance Park should at least be open during weekends and on all official holidays. Likewise the Martyrs’ Mausoleum and Bogyoke Aung San Museum should be accessible to all, including regular visitors, students and tourists.

The president and hluttaws could also consider the posthumous promotion of General Aung San to Marshal, Generalissimo or a similar rank and name Nay Pyi Taw or Yangon airport Marshal Aung San International Airport.

We have some good examples in and out of the region like Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, John F Kennedy Airport, New York and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. This would be a long overdue gesture.

2. The tombs of Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, Bogyoke Kadaw Daw Khin Kyi, Queen Supayalat and U Thant on Shwedagon Pagoda Road

These places should also be improved and landscaped to recognise the status and backgrounds of the four personalities in our long history.

Legendary Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, also known as Professor Maung Hmaing, was from the Dohbama Asiayone; Daw Khin Kyi, the widow of General Aung San, our only female ambassador and also referred to by many as the Mother of Burma; Queen Supayalat, the last Queen of Burma; and U Thant, who served two terms as United Nations Secretary General, from 1961 to 1971.

Appropriate signs in Myanmar and English with a brief history and explanation of each should be placed in all locations.

3. The statue of Sayadaw U Wisara, freedom fighter

Again, appropriate signage in Myanmar and English should be placed to honour this patriotic freedom fighter, who died in prison on September 19, 1929, on the 166th day of his fast. It would be good if the donor of the bronze statue, from Myaungmya, is also mentioned.

4. Panglong Agreement, union spirit and related matters

The historic Panglong agreement was signed 65 years ago by 22 signatories, including Bogyoke Aung San, on February 12, 1947. They include five Shan Sawbwas and the representative of one sawbwa, seven Shan representatives of the local populace, five Kachin representatives and three Chin representatives.

It would be most appropriate to create awareness of their role in this historic agreement and name roads, streets, markets and in the respective regions after all these personalities. Even the small town of Panglong should be promoted so that visitors can learn more about this place that was integral to the formation of independent Myanmar.

(BBS U Win Tin is a student of the former Methodist English High School in Yangon who worked in the Information & Broadcasting Department of the Ministry of Information from 1977-81 and then a UN agency for more than 25 years. He can be contacted on [email protected])