Burma, the State of Myanmar

By David I. Steinberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Multiethnicity and the
Burmese State

Now when we build our new Burma, shall we build it as a Union or as a
Unitary State? In my opinion, it will not be feasible to set up a Unitary
State. We must set up a Union with properly regulated provisions to sa fe-
guard the rights of the National minorities. But we must take care that
“United we stand” and not “United we fall.”

—Aung San, 19471

We want to establish peace in our country. It is not a time to confront
each other because we need national conciliation. We have reached
cease-fire agreements and the next step is political dialogue. We must
establish trust. After bloodbaths lasting nearly half a century, we must
establish trust with the view that one day reconciliation will come about.

—Nai Shwe Kyin, Head, New Mon State Party, 19962

We [minorities] must first survive as a people, then we can talk about
democracy.

—Karen leader, 19981

A ung San’s 1947 comment, wisely sensitive to the threats to the incipient Burmese state, was in part reflected in the constitution of 1947, . ignored to the peril of the military in the constitution ot 1974, and likely to be dismissed to a significant degree under SPDC rule. The issue is the

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