Archive for May 19, 2008

BURMA’S LEADERS? CALLOUS!

May 19, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Callous! Mad and utterly callous up to the end!

This is what I can say of the praetorian leaders of Burma. The country has been clearly devastated by the powerful typhoon that razed through the Irrawady area recently, killing past the 100,000 death mark as of a couple of days ago. Humanitarian work had almost halted as the praetorians have focused their efforts more on preparing the electorate for the democratization process and forthcoming polls.

Sure, there is no lack of merit for democratizing Burma and widen the political stream to include state players from among the other competing political parties and interest groups. But to over-focus on  vote-gaining democratization issues at a time of catastrophe, contingency and national mourning for the dead escapes our comprehension and will only lead to a cul de sac of greater catastrophe. For sure the great men U Thant and Aung San must be squirming in their graves right now.   

By ‘more catastrophe’ we don’t only mean deaths on the victims. We mean that, after the typhoon relief tasks are over, and the country indeed moves on to that phase of public choice of new political forces and leaders, the military will be crashed by its own callousness in the relief operations days. Then, unwilling to admit the results of the polls, the praetorians would again move on to crash legitimate efforts to replace the military in power.

Sad! How tragic and sad are the affairs of life in Burma. This once citadel of growth right after Britain left the country in cognition of its full sovereignty, turned into a developmental nightmare of unfathomable poverty when the praetorians took over power through the might of the gun.

“Political power comes from the barrel of the gun,” Mao once declared. Following such a dictum, we may add that “perpetual violence from the barrel of the gun causes more vicious cycles of misery.” That’s my line, fellows, and I’m citing the dictum based on experiences in my own country and elsewhere wherever ceaseless violence happens: more misery and economic collapse.

Meantime, we can only hope that the international pressures on the Burmese praetorians to open up the gates for humanitarian work by international players will be heeded. Strategically, in the long run, the ASEAN may have to equip itself with a regional armed force that can serve as equalizer against any tyrannically abusive political group—topped by the Burmese praetorians and the Khmer Rouge—that only knows how to bring down their respective country to graveyard status after centuries of glorious High Culture and greatness.   

[Writ 19 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]