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The Progress of Democratization in Burma


The Progress of Democratization in Burma

Hre Mang; Spring 2002.
Adviser: Dr. TroyD McGrath
Political Science Department, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY 13820

Abstract: This paper presents a brief background aboutthe Burma military regime, its worldview, its strugglefor political legitimacy, comparative politicaltransitions around the world, the ongoing politicalstandoff, and the potential for political transitionin the future of Burma.Hre Mang, Spring 2002.

I. Introduction
II. Background
III. The Burma Regime
IV. Political Transition and Democratization Around the World
V. The Opposition
VI. International and Regional Contribution
VII. The Analysis
This paper presents a brief background about the Burma military regime, its worldview, its struggle for political legitimacy, comparative political transitions around the world, the ongoing political standoff, and the potential political transition in the future of Burma. Although the tittle of this paper suggests the overall political development and democratization of the whole society of Burma, the central theme of this paper is to scrutinize the military background and balance the political powers between the military regime and the opposition in order to synthesize the potential for political transition as compared to other political transition and regime changes around the world.
Almost all of the research works were done through literature reviews and ongoing news analyses. The military background, the political history of Burma, the social cultural factors, the international and regional geopolitical context, the role of civil society, the ongoing confrontation between the military regime and the opposition, and other examples from political transitions around the world were all factors that help to predict what could be the prospective change in the future of Burma. The political nature of the people of Burma since the independence movement and the role of the military in Burma politics favor the military type of leadership in the society. Although the general public supports for democracy and political change due to economic scarcity and continuing civil wars, the social and cultural tenets and social hierarchism in the society still remain as the social and moral claims for the regime to legitimize its political role. The impact of the legacies of colonial rule and the continuing threat by the Burma Communist Party and the ethnic insurgencies legitimated the political role of the Burma military in the past.
The role of Burma regime in Southeast and East Asia regional politics has been dramatically changed during the last decade. The Asian neighbors' constructive engagement and support for the regime hindered the effectiveness of the western pressure over the regime government. The military government's attempt to crack down on all oppositions has been at the highest level, in order to maintain the status quo. With the help of the examples from the political transitions around the world, this paper comparatively presents the balance of confronting powers and their potential consequences.
Political liberation and political democratization are the well-known contemporary political movement's aims to achieve the highest human satisfaction and happiness for every individual in the society. "Political liberalization involves the expansion of public space through the recognition and protection of civil and political liberties, particularly those bearing upon the ability of citizens to engage in free political discourse and to freely organize in pursuit of common interests." Along with political liberation, political democratization becomes essential in order to achieve the end goal of human society. "Political democratization entails an expansion of political participation in such a way as to provide citizens with a degree of real and meaningful collective control over (public policy). Liberal democracy, characterized by the regular, open, honest electoral competition of political parties and protection of rights to organize politically, has become the dominant ideological basis for legitimizing political power." As the result of political liberation and democratization "individual psychology, personal relationships, families, religions, business cooporations, social clubs, political parties, literary and artistic meetings-all must in some sense be democratized if human beings are to fully reap the fruits of the democratic idea." However, confessional democracy- a system that assumes religious and nationalist fanatic affiliation is the primary factor in how the society is organized politically and constitutionally ensures the power of various groups-led to a devastating civil war. Although religious fanaticism is not the key obstacle to the progress of democratization in Burma, besides the military leaders' fool of political power, national fanaticism has been the core fundamental ideology that has shaped the military leaders' mindset that goes against the political development toward democracy.
Samuel Huntington's findings on the issue of world regime changes establish the general survey of the processes of political transitions. According to him (see chapter II of this paper) there are three types of transitions: transformation, transplacement, and replacement. After reviewing the available factors from both sides, the present Burma political condition supports the Huntington's theories of transplacement and transformation for the future possible political change. However, as the military regime, as long as possible, would prolong the process of any potential change, it is uncertain if negotiation would bring a complete transfer of power from military regime to the civilian government. At the last moment, the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on May 6 2002 from her 19 months-old house arrest and the recent release of other 200 political prisoners give a positive signal for a potential peaceful negotiation and a new era of confrontation between the military and the opposition.
I. Introduction
Since its independence in 1948, Burma has been experiencing back-and-forth political development and the recent decades' democratic movement has been the most serious public struggle for internal political change beyond the independence movement during the 1940s. After the British left in 1948, the society of Burma was left opened to the introduction of any new political ideology, although democracy was the people's choice as a legacy of the British rule. Communism, socialism, democracy and military dictatorship were the main political trends that occupied the society to at least some extent. For four decades the present military regime has been the most successful to maintain central political power since independence without the consent of the general public. However, it is unknown how long the military regime will be able to stand against the challenge of the recent democratic movement. Along with the recent decades' democratic revolution around the world, in this paper the social, cultural and political evolution of Burma, the regime's stability, the challenge of the democratic movement, and the international pressure will be evaluated to make analysis of the progress of democratization in Burma.
However, instead of analyzing the evolution of the basic social tendencies of the society toward democracy, this paper focuses on the potential for regime change from a military regime to civilian government. The factors that contribute or hinder the progress of democratization in Burma will be discussed. In order to balance the positive and negative factors that contribute or hinder the political development, the incompatible theories and practices will also be scrutinized. The civilian government is generally characterized as the government body in which the governing officers are elected with the participation of the general public in the process of election. This is unlikely to have happened in Burma as long as the military regime is confident about its control over the opposition, because, as we have seen in the 1990 national election, the military leaders are not willing to hand political power over the elected civilian leaders without political reservation for them. However, although there is no balanced military power that challenges the military regime, the combination of several factors that make up opposition is strong enough to destabilize the regime government at least some extent. Therefore, the regime government's political future remains uncertain unless it's political strategy is modified to be able to stand with certain limit of political legitimacy. This paper focuses on what factors contribute to the strength of the military regime' resistance to political transition and, on the other hand, what factors made up the strength of the opposition. The central point for the evaluation of the overall political development toward democracy is focused on the competitive general election with the participation of all eligible civilians.
Unlike some other countries, where social tendencies, religious and cultural beliefs, or political ideologies that are contrary to democratic principles exist, there is no incompatible traditional or religious belief system that is contrary to democratic fundamental principles in Burma. Although the social hierarchic system of communitarian society does exist favoring the authoritarian type of societal leadership role, this social system can be easily transformed and can co-exist with democracy. As democracy itself is progressive the society of Burma will experience the political development even after the regime is changed and the society will have to be transformed into a democratic type of open and free society based on individual freedom rather than a collective one. After a free and opened society is established, the traditional walls of social tenets will be rationalized and democratized along the progress of democratization. On the other hand, theoretically and practically the regime government's nationalism matters a lot for the domestic politics. Although the regime government politicizes national security and national integrity in order to defend and support its political legitimacy, nationalism itself in Burma does not contradict democratic principles. Nationalsim was useful at the time of anti-fascist and anti-colonial movement. However, the military regime's interpretation of nationalism goes against both political liberalization and democratization. Since time immemorial, Burma's political nature has been masculine and military-like, especially toward the rights of minorities. Before the British rule, the Bama kings were warlords, and "might is power" ruled in the society. At the time of independence movement in the 1940s, the 30 compatriots were militarily trained and military minded young leaders.
Although there is no significant balance of both political and military power in the opposition side, the overall factors that contribute to the opposition are strong enough to threaten the regime's status quo, unless it has competing progress against its challenge. The presence of popular leader noble laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of General Aung San, the Burma independent leader; the economic crisis; the public support of the opposition inside and outside Burma; and the international pressure are not negligible. However, the changing regional political nature of the East and South East Asian countries appear contributing in support of the military regime rather than strengthening the opposition or democratic movement. ASEAN's constructive engagement, China's support of the regime, and India's engagement with Burma both military and economically help the regime's political survival. Without the cooporation of Asian neighboring countries the international pressure cannot effectively take action against the regime.

II: Background
Since time immemorial, Burma, located in Southeast Asian, has been an independent country except during the time of colonial rule from 1885 to 1948. The British colonizers conquered the land in 1885 and ruled until 1942 when the Burma Independent army invited Japanese to expel the British from Burma. However, the Japanese puppet independence to Burma led the anti-facist movement against the Japanese, which brought back the British into Burma. Burma Independent leader General Aung San signed independence agreement with the British in 1947. With the help of the British, the Burma Independence army expelled the Japanese during the Second World War. Not only did General Aung San unite the Bama ethnic group but he also united other indigenous groups such as Chin, Ka Chin, Shan, etc. for the establishment of the Union Country and signed the Panglong agreement on February 12th 1947. According to the Aung San-Atali agreement, Burma won her independence on January 4th 1948. Thereafter, the Union of Burma ever exists as a united political country.
Since before the time of the British colonization, the political nature of Burma was patriarchal and warlord style of leadership. At the time of independence, the independence movement political leaders were soldiers who had taken military training, and thus, they were military minded leaders. As the legacy of the British colonization, Burma practiced democracy as soon as independence was granted. The Burma democratic government practiced a centralized administrative system, which led some of the Burman leaders into Burmanization policy. The Burmanization policy, which oppressed the political and cultural rights of the non-Burman ethnic groups to proselytize, has been the main cause of the internal political struggle, the ethnic insurgency that caused a five decade long civil war in Burma. Ten years after independence, as the Panglong agreement became mature, according to the agreement (See 1947 constitution of Burma, articles nos. 201-206), member ethnic groups were supposed to have their own rights to choose whether to remain as member of the union country or to be separated as an independent country. At the same time, Prime Minister U Nu declared Buddhism as a national religion, which antagonized non-Buddhists, non-Burman groups and led the nation into chaos. As a result, and according to the invitation of Prime Minister U Nu, a new government, a caretaker government led by Ne Win was formed on October 28 1958. The caretaker government conducted national election and U Nu became Prime Minister again on 4th April 1960.
Since the time of independence, Burma faced internal political crises. The Burma Communist Party led by Takin Than Tun, one of the 30 compatriots, went to under ground political movement against the Burma democratic government and was supported by China. At the same time, the Karen ethnic group who did not sign the Penglong agreement on February 12 1947, in other words, who did not want to join to the Union Country, suffered annexation which led the Karen people for their independent movement against the Union Country. As soon as the independence was announced, the threat from the Karen independence movement and the Burma Communist Party were strong enough to threaten the stability of the Union Country. In the 1950s, the Shan leaders had talked about separation from the Union Country, as the Pang Lond Agreement, which guaranteed session rights to Shan people became mature after 10 years of independence. Therefore, out of such political crisis, the army claimed national security and stability as reasons to seize the central political power and overthrew the rule of the U Nu led Burma democratic government on March 2 1962.
The 1962 coup destroyed the Burma parliament system, the 1947 national constitution, and the legal and economic system of the country. U Nu and his ministers, and other ethnic leaders such as Shan and Karen were jailed. Ne Win established a Revolutionary Council comprising 17 senior army officers to govern the country, which later on was transformed into the Burma Socialist Program Party in which Ne Win led as the president of the party at the same time as the head of the government. In 1974, the BSPP adopted a new constitution and according to the new constitution the BSPP was the only national party. The military regime increased its operation against ethnic insurgency and anti-government movement.
The military's economy failed to meet the necessary development. Burma, one of the richest countries in natural resources, became one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. The continuing ethnic insurgency led the country into a political stalemate. After more than 20 years of military rule, the Burma university students demonstrated against the military regime government and demanded political change. The student pro-democratic movement led the 8-8-88 nationwide public demonstration. The military regime government killed thousands of students and demonstrators in September 1988. Out of such political crisis, the military regime government changed the government body and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Many students left the country and continued their struggle for democracy. The name of the country has been changed several times-Union of Burma in 1948, Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma in 1974, and the Union of Myanmar in 1989.
The military regime called for national election in 1990. On May 27 1990, the national League for Demcracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of General Aung San, won the election by winning 392 out of 485 seats. The SLORC refused to hand over the central political power to the winning party. Instead it arrested many of the elected MPs and put them in jail. Therefore, many of the MP-elects escaped from the control of the regime government and formed the National Coalition Government (NCGUB) in December 1990. The NCGUB, Student organizations, and ethnic insurgency groups joint together for the struggle for democracy. On the other hand, seeking political legitimacy, the SLORC also convened a national convention with 702 delegates, who were hand picked by the SLORC to draft a new constitution. Without a standing constitution, whatever the military leaders say becomes the enforceable law of the nation. In November 15, 1997, "The State Law and Order Restoration Council" was changed to "The State Peace and Development Council", with 14 senior military officers as members, and without much change inside. Both the democratic activists and international community condemn the regime government's political oppression, forced labor, and human rights violations. Since October 1990, the military regime has been engaging with the opposition leader Daw aung San Suu Kyi, the Secretary General of the National League for Democracy, through a covert dialogue. Due to lack of political power in the opposition side, lack of international intervention, and lack of regional support, the progress of democratization has been delayed and the future remains uncertain.
The Burma Military Mindset
Historically and traditionally, since before the British colonization in early 19th century, the Burma society had been ruled with military-type-authoritarianism. The era of the Burman kings ended in 1885 when the British deposed King Thibaw in Mandalay and made Burma a province of British India. As the rule of the British colonization subdued the pride of the Burma nationalist patriotism, it still remained as the painful memory for those military nationalists and some political leaders that eventually shaped the mindsets of the military leaders and ideologists. Therefore, for the sake of national integrity and survival, it is the first and second motto of the military leaders, as the basis of their political legitimacy, to protect the country from any foreign infiltration politically, economically, socially and culturally.
Our state has been in existence as an independent nation for
thousand of years...It is our bounder duty to defend and safeguard,
with our lives, the independence and sovereignty which our martyrs
and patriotic heroes wrested back, and to ensure their perpetuity as
long as the world exists.
This statement reflects that based on national patriotism the mindset of the military leaders goes against any foreign infiltration or interference.
Seen from our perspective, security entails non-interference
in international affairs and freedom from external affairs and
freedom from external pressures. Security is synonymous with
the basic right to choose freely one's own political, economic
and social systems and to determine one's future that one's
peace and in accordance with cherished values and ideals.
Suspicions of foreign interference captured the mindsets of the military leaders and any foreign pressure or ideological influence is intolerable, claiming national security as their priority. It shows the military leaders' lack of insight over the political evolution of the world society toward globalization and international cooperation. Thus, for the military leaders, to suppress any internal dissidents by any means and to resist any foreign influence is the national duty of every citizen. At the same time, any attachment to foreign ideology is as much worse as a traitor or treason, which led Burma into an insolated and closed society until now.
The Independence Movement
The Burma independent leaders were military minded nationalist soldiers, which one journalist compared with the Talibans in Afghanistan. Beside nationalism, communism and socialism were the main ideological trends that moved the independent fighters in the 1940s. However, the importance of nationalism occupied the first, second and third priority. Even after 50 years of independence, the military leaders still claim political legitimacy recalling their political role during the independent movement.
The myth that the army won Myanmar's freedom and is
protecting the country against centrifugal forces, threatening
to undermine its independence and sovereignty, has become
the military leaders' only sustainable claim to political legitimacy
in the NLD in the 1990 election.
If Bo Ye Htut and group, with the plot of the Burma Communist Party (BCP), were succeeded in their coup attemp, U Nu's democratic government wouldn't last a decade long. However, after the independence, the BCP backed by Chinese revolt, and the Karen National Defense Organization (KNO) opposed the annexation in 1949. The CIA backed Kuomintang (KMT) threatened the survival of the Burma newly freed country, which necessitated the military build-up during the 1950s.
The 1950s
The 1950s' Burma political phenomena necessitated the building of a strong military to defend the country from the potential threats. At the time of independence, the Burma military personals were not well trained and even some were illegal soldiers who were not officially admitted to the army but just happened to be in army during the highly emotional independent movement. At first, the KNO and BCP were the main threats to U Nu's Rangoon government. Later when the US assisted arms and other supplies to the KMT, it angered to the Rangon government even more. Therefore, U Nu's government built military challenging the serious political threat. Since that time, China wanted Burma to be a communist counterpart, while the U.S, for supporting with military supplies, no doubt, wanted the Shan KMT to become a political channel along the China border. The Karen leaders were politically strong during the time of the British in that the army chief and many other top officials were Karen nationals in the central administrative zone.
Although a democratic government ran Burma, the socialist and communist ideals dominated the ruling party, Anti-Facist People's Freedom League (AFPFL), because when the AFPFL was formed in 1945 its membership came from organizations allied with the Communist party and so on.
During the 1950s military buildup, except for the removal of rightists within the military, Ne Win, who sometimes busy with his romantic affairs, was not the key player as many thought, although he was the army chief commander at the time. Many of the projects developed in the military transformation were the ideas of Major Aung Kyi (later Brigadier General), who formed a "Military Planing Staff," the "Defence Service Institute" in 1951, a psychological warfare and so on, Colonel Maung Maung (considered by many to have been the architect of the modern Tatmadaw), Lieutenant Colonel Ba Than (who was the champion of the psychological warfare plans) and others were the staff officers who were responding to particular crises and quite unintentionally created institutions.
The Caretaker Government and the Coup de' tat (1958-1962)
The political influence of the independent movement had a strong impact among the military leaders during the 1950s. The first coup de' tat attempt in 1949was failed. While U Nu's Rangoon government faced political challenges by the KMT, KNO, and the Chinese, the ruling party AFPFL split into two in 1958. U Nu and Thakin Tin led one faction, and the other faction was led by U Ba Swe and U Kyaw Nyein. Due to this internal political chaos, the military was very angry and lost trust in the U Nu government. At the end of 1958, U Nu resigned from his post and proposed General Ne Win to be appointed as the new Prime Minister of the caretaker government. Ne Win ran a caretaker government from 1958 to 1960 with some civilian officers and army leaders. During the caretaker government, the army, according to Colonel Chit Myaing, won the public support. Ne Win enjoyed and became addicted to the tastes of both military and political power for a short period of time. During the 1960 national election, the AFPFL faction led by U Nu won by a landslide. Again U Nu became the Prime Minister of Burma in 1960.
The army leaders gained confidence during the caretaker government that they thought they would be able to run the government even for a long time. With the ttreat to the Union of Burma national integrity by ethnic insurgency, the KMT, KNO, and the Chinese, the army did not trust U Nu's Rangoon government. At the same time, U Nu, according to his election campaign promise, announced Buddhism as a national religion. The Ka Chin people rebelled against the central government. In many places public protests occurred against U Nu's national religion. Shan leaders considered declaring separation from the Union Country according to the Pang Long Agreement, which allowed the Shan to separate from the Union of Burma at will 10 years after independence. The Burma leaders believed that if the Shan separated from the Union country, Burma wouldn't be safe, on the other hand, the Burman would have no influence over the Shan. Therefore, Ne Win and his fellow military leaders seized central political power in 2 March 1962 and formed the Revolutionary Council with 17 members.
Since Ne Win became the head of the government (1962-1988), he cracked down student activists, and the Student's Union building in Rangoon was destroyed. The parliamentary democracy system was demolished and the 1947 constitution was abandoned. The Revolutionary Council drafted a new constitution, which was promulgated in 1974. The new constitution allowed the existence of only one party in the system, Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP), which ruled until 1988 when the student democratic movement challenged for change of central policy. The military regime established its legitimacy by the necessity of the military's role to protect the nation from the separatists, the ethnic insurgency, the BCP and the foreign infiltration, particularly from the east, China. However, the military regime's closed and self-style social and economic policy failed to meet the challenge of public demand. Therefore, it led the country into being one of the poorest countries in the world. The 1988 pro-democratic movement and the resignation of Ne Win opened the new era for the military regime.
After 1988
The time of the Burma Socialist Program Party and its founder Ne Win's rule ended simultaneously in 1988 when the pro-democratic movement destabilized the country. Ne Win's brutal internal purging policy and zero tolerance toward dissent helped him rule such a long period of three decades. For example, as soon as Ne Win established his rule he dismissed U Aung Kyi who had been Ne Win's partner since the independence movement in 1945, an organizer of the Socialist Party (1947), a key figure in the Caretaker Government (1958-1960), and partner in establishing the Revolutionary Council in 1962. He was put in jail from 1965 to 1968 and 1973-74. Likewise, many leaders were dismissed from their role in politics. However, the fortune of Ne Win could not stand the 1988 political challenge.
Crushing the peaceful public demonstrators, the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) was once again replaced by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), with hard-liner army officers in 1988. The SLORC abolished the BSPP's People's Assembly and the 1974 constitution, promising the new general election and constitution. The SLORC conducted a national election on 27 May 1990 in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won by 82 % of the total seats. However, the SLORC that promised national election and transfer of power, was replaced by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) without any policy reformation in 1997. The change of name allowed some unwanted leaders to resign from their posts. In other words, the change of the name allowed the military regime to purge internal dissidents that might have a potential faction within the army.
The Burma military leaders promised to establish a democratic government, a military-democracy, in which the military would have constitutional rights to participate in politics. The military leaders demanded definite political roles that were not opened to civilians, but restricted to military leaders, roles such as defense, internal and border area departments. They also have been reframing a new constitution in which the army will have reserved seats 25 % of legislature and executive branches of government in both houses of parlianment-110 out of 440 seats in the lower house (Phithu Hluttaw) and 56 out of 224 in the upper house. Moreover, the future president of the nation will be required to have military experience. These are contrary to the western democratic values.
Since 1988, the Burma regime has been strategically playing its new political game while its intention for the future government is clear. It has been trying to gain a political legitimacy by calling a constitutional conference in 1993, but the work hasn’t been finished. In that constitution, the military intended to put the permanent political role of the military in the new civilian government. Like 1962-1974, when the Burma military regime ruled without a constitution, since 1988, after the 1974 constitution was abolished, there has been no standing constitution. Although the national convention has been called since 9 January 1993 to draft a constitution with the promise of democratic government in the future, the military' intention of doing all these remain uncertain. Trust in military’s pormise has eroded because in the 1990 national election the military leader Senior General Saw Maung had promised publicly to hand over the central political power to the winning party, but it didn’t, which later appeared as the military leaders' remarkable public lie.
After 1988, the military has increased its strength by increasing the number of army personnel, reforming and establishing the military infrastructure. The number of army personnel has increased to 450,000. There have been several internal reformation and building of the infrastructures such as the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence (DDSI), and the Office of Strategic Studies (OSS) within the military, with 14% of GDP military expenditure (see the appendix). According to the report of "Burma Mynamar: Strong Regime Weak State" edited by Morten B Pedersen, Emily Rutland, and R. J. May, Burma uses more than half of the government's official funds for military expenditures. Moreover, it has gained regional concern from China, India, Japan and Singapore both militarily and economically that help the regime government one way or the other. The current military regime has done a successful deal with the ethnic insurgencies that after 1989 more than 18 armed opposition groups have signed cease-fire.
The Burma military has been strong as well as brutal enough to crush the opposition. It ignored the peaceful public demand and international pressure. The military has practiced very well internal political purge skillfully that there seems no potential crack down of the military within itself. In the recent coup de'tat attempt of April 2002, the military hard-liners took advantage to purge the internal potential political rivalry. There, the military regime's stand is still strong without internal threat for collapse and external threat from both the opposition and the international and regional pressure.

IV: Political Transition and Democratization Around the World
The world has experienced a rapid political evolution after the WWII decolonization and independent movement. Although the experiences of many countries are not the same or identical, most of the world societies have been moving toward more open and democratic type of governance that increases the people's opportunity and participation in the central government's decision-making process. Racial oligarchy, colonization, dictatorship, and communism have faced a historical political challenge, which has shaped the world's political landscape. We can also call this specific political transitional period a "Democratic Boom" in the world political development. After the WWII, in many countries, several types of regime; personal dictatorship, one party political system, and military regime dictatorship have replaced the former traditional political culture based on colonial legacy. However, the recent modern intellectual, technological, economic, and social development destabilize the regime governments. As a result many regime governments have changed from the rule of dictatorship to the rule of the people, or a republic type of government known as democracy. Democracy in general terms contains three basic elements: competitive election, reasonable numbers of people's participation, and free and open political institution. Many authoritarian governments still struggle to maintain the status quo against the revolutionary ideological challenge for change toward democracy. However, the potential change of the world social, economic and political systems due to the increasing development of the awareness of public opinion and human rights, and the pressure of the changing modern political economy toward democracy have shaped every political system one way or another.
Samuel Huntington in his writing, "How Countries Democratize", categorizes three types of authoritarian regimes: one party system, personal dictatorship, and military regime. There are different types of one party system: the party controlled and dominated by the military leaders like Burma, or theocracy-dominated by religious leaders or set, and etc. However, it is clear that most of the world's authoritarian governments are helped or backed by military. For example, the three types of the authoritarian government were displayed in the Burma military regime government: one party system headed by military leaders, Burma Socialist Porgram Party (BSPP) (1962-1988), which we can also categorize as the military regime government, and the personal dictator, the leader Ne Win (1962 to 1988). Most of the military regime governments were created by coup d'etat replacing the previous government with military leaders. Many military regimes at first do not claim their legitimate role in government politics but try to legitimize their role by manipulating a fundamental aim of government such as national security, corruption and political chaos. Latin America, Greece, Turkey, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Pakistan, Nigeria, Argentina, Panama, Burma, and South Korea experienced military regime government.
One party system authoritarian government always institutionalizes its political party, though oppressive to the opposition. Manipulating national cause, it legitimizes its political role through the political ideology of the party, which defines the identity of the state and is differentiated from the ideology of democracy and personal dictatorship. It is almost impossible for the opposition to rise up within such a closed society, because any opposition to the party amounted to treason to the state. The elections were often conducted under the complete control of the dominant party. Taiwan, Hungary, Mexico, USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, Nicaragua, Mongolia, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Granada experienced one party system. The collapse of communist countries, the ongoing decrease of the regime's capacity to control the political phenomena and the challenge of the democracrtization movement helped the change of political power from monopoly to multiparty system. Although one party system authoritarian leaders used to give up their monopoly power they always tried to hold the opportunity to compete in newly introduced democratic multiparty system.
Personal dictatorships were diverse in forms of government. However, most of the personal dictatorship governments have shared a distinguished characteristic, that being one political leader as the source of authority and the flow of that authority based on closeness to, access to, dependence on, and support of the leader. For example, Portugal was ruled by Antonio Salazar and Marcello, Spain by Fransco Franco, Philippians by Ferdinand Marcos, India by Indira Ganhdi, and Romania by Nicole Ceacescu. With the exception of India and Chile, personal dictators hardly give up power voluntarily. They often try to hold the central political power as long as they can. The overthrow of dictator took place in Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, Iran, Portugal, Philippines, and Romania.
As a fruit of 18th century enlightenment that focused on human reason as the basis for determining human value system, the intellectual revolution has shaped the modern philosophy of society. Peace and development become political goal. The world's experiences of wars pushed the society in search of peace. The world's economy has been moving toward a competitive and opened market system. Besides the human behavioral social evils, the political system is no exception for the cause of war and destruction. Many of the world's political thinkers believe that "democracy as fundamental to development and peace, as it provides opportunities to resolve ethnic, social, and political conflicts peacefully through dialogue and negotiations between the parties." The infusion of democratic norms, and principles of human rights that support them into many international and regional institutions, business corporations and their attachment to democratic norms, technological development and political openness, all helped the progress of democratization and regime change through globalization and international and regional social, economic and political interaction.
Some regime governments have been undergoing the progress of democratization, and many have reached the most suitable political system, democracy. In spite of resistance to change, there have been several factors that have overcome and instituted a democratic system. Regime change has taken place with different experiences of the regimes. Internal collapse, overthrow of the regime government by the opposition, internal reformers' transformation or voluntary submission to democracy, and external intervention are examples of how change has occured. Although the levels of the democratization differ in each newly constructed democratic society, at least to some extent, each bears the basic democratic principles of general competitive election, open political institution and freedom of expression.
Among military regime changes, except Argentina, Greece, and Panama-where the military collapsed or was defeated, all involved transplacement and transformation. The collapse of the regime is not necessary for all political transitions. However, within the recent historical context, the collapse of military regimes and communism, foreign imposition and decolonization, domestic opposition and democratization are all political conditions that made up for the demand of political transition from regime government to civilian rule. Except for the countries where military collapse occurred, there used to be covert or overt negotiation for the process of regime change from military to civilian rule. Leadership change within the military regime body, the pressure for political transition, and the transfer of power sometimes helped the process. If the transition is not voluntary, the military always demanded exit guarantees providing protection of army personals and the role of the military in the future government.
According to Samuel Huntington, generally, there have been three types of political transitions from regime governments to civilian rule: transformation, replacement, and transplacement. Most of the political transitions have three crucial interactions: the government and the opposition, reformers and standpatters in the governing coalition, and moderate and extremists in the oppositions.
By the end of 1980s there were 16 transformations. In a transformation, the authoritarian regime leaders voluntarily monitor or control the transition. Especially in a military regime, the army leaders used to leave politics and go back to their barracks. By nature, the government is always stronger and in control of the total political phenomena. Spain, Brazil, Taiwan, Mexico, and Hungary are good examples. The process of transformation used to begin with the reformers inside the government. With an ideological conviction, the emergence of reformers is very important. There are prerequisites for the emergence of reformers. The ideological conviction in democracy as the only best system that would lead the country toward development competing the growing world; the reformers' believe in their political or professional future assurance; the believe in political transition which will reduce the risk of holding power; and the pressure for political transition are essential to advance the transformation process.
There were six Replacement transitions by 1990: Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Greece, Argentina, and East German. In replacement transitions, first the breakdown of the regime took place, sometimes due to the collapse of the military such as in Greece, Argentina, and Romania and some other regimes overthrown by the opposition. The breakdown or collapse of the regime used to take place when the internal political discontentment occurred, and when the regime lacked the support of social base in the society. The opposition is always stronger than the government in replacement transition. The possibility of initiating reform is almost always absent within the government because the regime government always tries to maintain the central political power at all cost. Therefore, the overthrowing of the government by the opposition is necessary and the only option for the political transition. Replacement is more common in transitions from personal dictators. After wearing down the regime government, the opposition used to sift power to its favor in a replacement transition,
In a transplacement model transition, both the government and opposition party work together for the transition process. The government learns that the opposition can hinder or threaten the political status quo of the government, while the opposition cannot overthrow the government either. In such a political standoff, negotiation and cooperation are necessary between the two parties. The political transitions in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, Korea, Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and South Africa involved the transplacement model. With or without the external interference, the opposition increases its strength that the government is required to liberate its stand to negotiate with the opposition. Therefore, a negotiating table used to take place. The government liberalizes its stand to negotiate with the opposition while the opposition also trusts the government as worthy partners. Though the process of transition, trust is built between the two that after transition is over the government leaders and higher officials or the opposition leaders would not have to be in prison or in exile. Rather, both parties are guaranteed to share power or to compete in the new system or if in the case of military regime, the military leaders are guaranteed to have respect and dignity in their professional barracks.
In transformation and transplacement model of political transitions both parties' leaders are guaranteed for their future political or professional role without danger of the new system. On the other hand, the authoritarian leaders who faced replacements suffered unhappy fates. For example, Marcos and Caetano were exiled, Ceausescu was executed, Greece and Argentina military leaders were tried and imprisoned, and Panama and Grenada leaders were subject to persecution. By contrast, in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia there was no such punishment.
Compared to the prerequisite political conditions for political transitions around the world, the present Burma political conditions would fit into the situation where, according to Huntington, transformation and transplacement political transition used to take place. By balancing the political forces between the Burma regime and the opposition, Huntington's explanation gives a clue to possible transition in Burma. In order to give us a clear view on the balance of power, in the next chapters, factors that contribute to the opposition's political strength will be discussed.

The four decades long Burma military regime has been facing multiples of oppositions through which the regime government has survived. However, the cost of the regime government's struggle for political survival has created enormous political landscape, which left the country with economic poverty, thousands of refugees and political chaos. Since 1962, because of the internal civil wars and political challenges, the Burma regime government never enjoyed peaceful political stability. In spite of the oppressive brutality, the role of civil society has been very important in opposing the regime government. The student's anti-regime movement has been a significant factor that contributes and stimulates democratic movement. Since 1962 until the collapse of the BCP in 1980s and ethnic insurgencies' cease-fire agreements with the regime government in 1990s, the Burma Communist Party (BCP) and the ethnic insurgencies had been the strongest oppositions against the regime government. However, after the recent so-called cease-fires of more than 18 armed groups, the student activists and the 1990's MP-elects and their party men have become the most effective oppositions both in the internal and international levels. Nevertheless, due to the fragmented political forces of the opposition, the military regime government's brutal oppression on the opposition, and the regional and the Asian neighboring countries' support for the regime government, the opposition still lacks a balanced political power to overthrow the regime government.
Political Party
Under the military regime government there has been no political tolerance for dissents, and there were no free political competition. However, the 1988 pro-democratic movement had shaped the Burma political landscape in which the situation compelled the military government to conduct a national election. Out of national political chaos in the whole country, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) promised to conduct a national election, which was conducted on May 27, 1990. Although the formation of political party was allowed, the SLORC restricted free movement and political campaign on all political parties, while the SLORC supported National Unity Party (UNP) which was not subject to its restriction. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Secretary General of the NLD and U Tin Oo, the NLD party Chairman who was subsequently sentenced to three years imprisonment, were under house arrest during the 1990 national election. In spite of such restriction, the National League for Democracy (NLD), Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's party won 82% of the total contested seats.
On September 27 1988, the SLORC publicly announced the Political Party Registration Act, which allowed political parties to register with the Election Commission. Within a short period of time, 236 parties were registered, out of which 130 were deregistered before the 1990 election and only 93 parties contested the election. The SLORC's expectation for the NUP failed winning only 10 out of 485 seats. The NLD won 81%, 392 out of 485 seats.
Instead of handing over the central political power according to the SLORC leader General Saw Maung's promise, the SLORC changed its election promise, as though the election was conducted to elect the people who would draft a state constitution. The SLORC's intention became very clear that the election result was invalidated. So the national election of members of parliament became a national election of members of prisoners, who would go to jail or go to exile. Therefore, many MP-elects were arrested and put into jail; in 1990 55 MP-elects were dismissed and banned from political activity, 42 MPs were imprisoned, and many more escaped to the border area and some to other neighboring countries such as India, and Thailand. In December 1990, the MP-elects formed the National Coalition Government (NCGUB) at Manerplaw on the Thai-Burma border. In May 1996, some 300 NLD members and MPs were arrested, and 46 MPs resigned from Parliament under the compulsion of the military regime. In 1992, most of the politically active NLD MPs were forced to resign.
By March 1992, out of 90 political parties that took part in the 1990 election, only10 remained legal. The rest were banned and dismissed by the Election Commission according to their alternative political party acts that were intentionally created to invalidate the registered parties and the 1990-election result. Therefore, since the 1990 election, the political parties and their figure leaders have been harassed and restricted not to be able to participate in any active political role. As a result, the strength of the opposition parties has been dramatically reduced and there is no balanced political power between the military regime and the opposition inside the country.
Outside the country, the National Coalition Government of Burma (NCGUB) composed of the 1990 MP-elects, with the corporation of the ethnic insurgencies such as National Democratic Front (NDF), Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), and the Student Organizations, has been struggling against the regime government. The NCGUB was formed at Manerplaw on December 18 1990 with Dr. Sein Win as Prime Minister. In the NCGUB, not only the NLD MP-elects but also other party MP-elects, are also included. The NCGUB's political campaign against the regime government, except within the Asian regional context, has gained the international supports. However, the Asian neighboring countries' support and constructive engagement hinder the international isolation of the Burma regime government. Unlike South Africa, due to the support of some sympathizers to the regime government, the Burma delegate in the UN cannot be unseated. Therefore, the strength of the NCGUB, the 1990 MP-elects and the political activists is limited and not enough to overthrow the regime government at the spot.
Since before independence, the Burma youth movement had contributed an important political role to the political development of the Burma society. The Burma student activated against the government in 1920, against the Act of 1920, which placed Rangoon University under the University if Calcutta. In the 1930s several student strikes took place and the Rangoon University Student Union (RUSU), the All Burma Youth League (ABY) and the Dobama Asiayone were formed. Young people called the "Thirty Comrades" formed the Burma Independent Army (BIA), led by Aung San, in Bangkok, who consequently went to Japan and took military training against the British rule. After overthrowing the British rule, the BIA, the "Thirty Comrades" turned against the Japanese by forming the Anti-Facist People Freedom League (AFPFL) whose activity was awarded with true independent on January 4 1948.
After independent, and after Aung San and his cabinets was assassinated on July 19 1947, U Nu, the former chairman of the Rangoon University Student Union (RUSTU) led the country as Prime Minsiter. After Ne Win's coup de'tat in 1962, the Burma students have been playing a very crucial role against the military regime government: July 7 1962 student demonstration; 1963 Peace and Cessation of War Demonstration; 1967 Akyab Rice Tiots/Sino-Burmese Conflicts; 1969 south East Asian Games Demonstration; 1970 Moulmein University Student Strike; 1974 Funeral Riots of U Thant, Former Secretary General of the United Nations; 1976 uprising commemorating the centenary of Thakin Ko Daw Hmaing; 1987 demonstration against demonetarisation of the 25, 35, and 75 Kyats notes; 1988 student national wide pro-democratic demonstration; 1990 student boycott against the SLORC; and 1996 student demonstration against the regime. All these remarkable events contributed to the political evolution of Burma.
Approximately, more than 10,000 student left the country in 1988 when the military regime brutally killed the student demonstrators. Many formed their student organizations and struggled against the regime. Among them, the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) which was formed on November 1 1988 at Thai-Burma border, is a popular organization that has been struggling for Burma political transition. Many have taken armed struggle against the regime government. Students' lobby around the world also gains the international support. However, compared to the brutal force of the Burma military regime, the fragmented Burma student force is weak militarily for it does not get enough military support from the international community. And its international campaign against the regime government, though very important, is not enough to balance the regime government politically. For one reason the military leaders are not rationally pursuable and another reason is that students are fragmented into multiple organizations and are not well organized enough to overthrow the military government, both militarily and politically.
The ethnic insurgency
Before 1988, the anti-regime government political activists and armed groups were mostly the ethnic groups; however, after 1988, the military regime's subtle way of political persuasion misled many armed groups and many have made cease-fire. Due to the rise of pro-democratic movement, the international pressure, and unignorable public pressure, the Burma regime government has changed its political strategy. Instead of kill-and-root-out policy, the military regime practiced persuasive political strategy and made cease-fire with more than 18 armed groups after 1990. The regime government's self-administered zone policy, which called back many armed groups and let them live within their claimed territory with arms, lulled many them to enjoy a temporary autonomous and political freedom without future guarantee for their national political survival.
The collapse of the Burma Communist Party, backed by China, eased the Burma military regime to at least some extent, because China was one of the main source from where the Burma armed groups received arms and ammunition. On the other hand, instead of condemning, as it used to do since Burma independence, China became the main supporter of the Burma regime government. Almost all major armed groups have made cease-fire with the regime government within the last decade, and others were crashed or politically weakened. Therefore, the Burma regime government does not have a potential threat from the armed groups at this time, while there seems no outside military intervention against the military regime is possible.
The Role of Civil Society
"Civil society generally refers to all organized, small and large, which act independently of the government." A weak society is generally related to the centralization of power and a lack of tolerance for dissent. Even during the democratic rule (1948 to 1958) the freedom of Burma civil society was threatened by civil war. Due to lack of social cultural development the Burma civil society still remains with traditional form of leadership pattern. Moreover, as a result of the military regime's influence and traditional and cultural impact, and lack of modernized education system, most of the civil organizations are, although not directly controlled by the military, formed in a hierarchical authoritarian order. Some religious, cultural and social welfare organizations are allowed to move independent from the government control, but strictly limited to apolitical issues. The regime has established numerous military-led organizations, which promote loyalty to it and its policies. The social order and leadership principles still remain as the pre-colonial patron-client relationship, that instead of issues, the political party intended to be organized around magnetic leaders. Due to military control for more than four decades, many people do not understand the role of civil society for the promotion of democracy or that a healthy democracy requires broad-mindedness and dispersion of power.
In Burma traditional society, hierarchical relations have normally accepted a leader's power to make decision on behalf of the people, holding any information related to power, leader's decision making without or with a little consultation, the general public's lack of participation in decision-making and dispersed power, avoiding confrontation with leaders and top-down relationship within the society, are all common practices even among democratic supporters. Therefore, the traditional concept of leadership role in the society is favored toward military dictatorship.
Today, Burma is entangled in two political struggles: the restoration of democracy and the resolution of ethnic minority rights. The military leaders believe that they would easily be able to Burmanize ethnic minorities who composed a third of the total population. Because the Pang Long Agreement (of 1947), which guaranteed ethnic groups with rights of secession 10 years after independence was abolished, there is no trust between the Burman leaders and the ethnic groups. Therefore, the society of Burma remains as diverse and unorganized, which prevent the active participation of civil society for the political development.
The like Ne Win's 1962 Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP), after the demolition of the BSPP and the defeat of the military backed Union Party in the 1990 election, the military regime has established The Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) on September 15, 1993. The USDA is patronized by top military officials and headed by military officers and supporters. This is a similar mass organization of independent movement, AFPF in 1940s, and Ne Win's BSPP in 1960s. As military and civil servants are not allowed to become members of political parties, the USDA will benefit those military and civil servants composing 15-20 percent of the total adult population in the country. By providing social cultural development programs, job training, and other occasional training, the USDA persuaded as many as more than 15 million young people who were mobilized by the military leader against the democratic movement. The USDA became the only free and legal social organization that backs the military regime government.
As I have mentioned above, the role of political parties has been dismantled and severely restricted during the last decade so that there has been almost nothing that political organizations contribute for the promotion of democracy inside the country. Student movement has been strictly watched. Parents of university students are required to sign letters of guarantee that their children will not participate in political activities. All student organizations have been banned. Traditionally active political actors, students could not openly express political opinions. Religious monks actively participated in the pro-democratic movement. However, the military regime has arrested several Buddhist monks and restricted any suspicious movement. The Buddhist organizations were closely watched, and monks are not allowed to speak with civilian about anti-military regime government. They are not allowed to read any anti-military regime material. Christian organizations are also restricted and are required to register to the regime government. Any suspicious activity is strictly watched. Therefore, under the military rule, the civil society has very limited, if any at all, opportunity to promote their cause toward democratization and political transition from military regime government to civilian government.
Individual Level
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was Born on June 19, 1945, daughter of General Aung San the Burma independent leader and Daw Khin Kyi, Burma's only woman ambassador to India and Nepal after her husband's death. She studied in Rangoon until the age of 15 and continued her study at Delhi University, India, and at Hugh's College, and Oxford University. After a long year, she returned to Burma in 1988 and got involved in pro-democratic movement. She was a co-founder of the National League for Democracy party and is the secretary general. She was kept under house arrest from 1989 until 1995,but her free movement continued to be restricted. Against she was kept under house arrest since 2000, and she was recently released in May 2000, after the seventh visit of the UN envoy Razali Ismail, without assurance for her future political freedom. It is suspected how far Daw Suu Kyi would have freedom to move around the country. However, her release and the release of 200 more political prisoners, shows a positive result of the 19 months old the so called secret-talk between Suu Kyi and the military junta leaders. Once the junta leaders regarded her as a "foreign axe handle" or a "puppet", they now have been dealing and building trust between each other for the cause of the nation, though it would be too early to predict the long ran result. She became the figurehead among democratic movement and won more than 64 prestigious prizes, awards, and appointments, including Nobel Prize in 1991. In the 1990 national election, her party won more than 80% of the total contested seats. She is trusted and loved by the people of Burma and is the hope of the future of Burma.
U Aung Shwe
U Aung Shwe is the chairperson of the NLD party. After he graduated in Arts from Rangoon University in 1940, he served in the Burma Independent Army (BIA), Burma Defense Army (BDA), and Patriotic Burmese Force (PBF) from 1942 to 1945. He was forced to retire from the army. He was appointed as ambassador to Australia, Egypt, France, Spain and New Zealand from 1961 to 1975. He was the chairperson of the POOL party and when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo were kept under house arrest, he became the chairperson of the NLD. He is one of the trusted political figures among the democratic activists.
U Tin Oo
U Tin Oo is the Deputy Chairperson of the NLD. He was born in 1927 in Bassein, Burma. He was a general and defense minister from 1974 to 1976 until he was accused of a coup attempt and put into jail. He was released from jail under amnesty in 1980. He became the vice chairperson of the NLD in September 1988, and in December 1988 he became the chairperson of NLD. In July 1989, he was put under house arrest, and in December 1989, he was imprisoned for three years.
Overall, the military is not likely to collapse by itself very soon. While there is no balanced political power in the opposition side, the Burma political struggle for democracy seems have to go further for more years.
VI. International and Regional Contributions
As the Burma military regime has been practicing self-promoting and noninterference policy, in the world community Burma issues have been ignored for along time. However, since the 1988 Burma pro-democratic movement, the western countries' attention on Burma issues has increased. The popularity of an activist leader, Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of General Aung San the Burma independent movement leader, also draws the international concern. The western countries' economic sanction and diplomatic pressure have, at least to some extent, impacted the progress of political evolution in Burma. The geopolitical setting, laying between the big Asian Powers, China and India, limits the effectiveness of the international pressure toward regime change in Burma. Without the cooporation of China and India, the international pressure wouldn't be much effective. Moreover, the Asian countries' constructive engagement helps the regime government's survival. Therefore, the international contribution toward Burma political change has not yet been effective enough to stimulate change. However, the UN delegates and other individuals' concern help to let the world know that the Burma military government is not doing well in the issues of human rights and political issues.
The United Nations' contribution toward democratization in Burma by sending the UN envoys and giving pressure on the regime government concerning human rights and political issues have just a little impact on the regime government. However, it is an effective tool to condemn the regime government before the world's political community and to urge the military regime for political dialogue with the opposition. Diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, and encouragement to have dialogue with the opposition are the main things the UN has done so far.
The UN and international economic sanctions, as punishment for the brutal regime's bad policy and to give pressure to do what it ought to or not to do, serves as a clear signal disapproval of against the regime government's human rights violation and failure to improve the situation. Although economic sanction was criticized by some of the Rangoon based journalists for its practical impact on the people, this has been the most effective international pressure over Burma regime government. The U.S also bans new investments to Burma in 1997 under the Clinton administration. There were more than 25 U.S. companies that have pledged to avoid business with Burma in 2001. Senator Jesse Helms and Tom Harkin introduced legislature banning all imports from Burma. A bipartisan group of 35 US Senators sent a letter to President Bush urging him to maintain the sanction imposed on Burma. The US' pressure over Burma for political change has been critically reacted by the Burma regime government. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the European Union also sanctioned against the military regime.
In spite of the western pressure on Burma regime, the Asian countries chose a so-called constructive engagement to deal with the Rangoon government. China, in support of the Burma regime government economically and militarily, is the political backbone of the regime government, especially, after the break down of Burma Communist Party in 1990s. Likewise, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and India practiced a constructive engagement with the regime government. Moreover, the admission of the regime government as a member of the ASEAN has increased the political legitimacy of the regime government within the regional context.
The military leaders have been leading the country into very bad economic condition for several decades, while they themselves enjoy wealth and power. With the help of the Asian countries, the economic sanction does not destabilize the regime government. At the same time, Burma's strategic importance in the regional context has shaped its regional support politically. The important geopolitical issue is China's interest in Burma. Burma was not part of the nexus of regional power politics. But now it has clearly demonstrated by its relation with China. China has support arms and weapons receiving the $ US 1.4 billion worth since 1988 when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) came into power. And according to Professor David Steinberg's interview with a Chinese military attache in Asia, China would support the SLORC government when attacked militarily. Even if the international community stand together against the SLORC government, China would still support the SCLORC government as the Pakistan government did in supporting the Taliban of Afghanistan until the last minute. Therefore, China is the protector of the Burma military regime government both in the Asian geopolitical context and in the UN forum. Therefore, the Burma regime government can not be unseated in the UN as once the South Africa was.
The regional competition between the Asian supper powers, China and India benefits the Burma military regime government. The illegal border trade between Burma and China was legalized. China assisted Burma with its construction and development program, and China has gained military base in the Burma sea which provoked India. As India and China have been regional rivalry, stationing the China's military in Burma territory is inconvenient for India. At the same time, India has built a border trade road between Burma and India, which with extension will connect Thailand and Bangladesh as a regional highway. Moreover, ethnic insurgency and political separatist movement in the 7 sister states of the Northeast India play a crucial role in India's relation with Burma. The cooporation of the recent western Burma democratic activists and ethnic insurgency along the Indo-Burma border line has angered both India and Burma. The Indian and Burmese army conducted several joint operation along the border area against democratic activists in Burma and ethnic insurgencies in India. Therefore, the regional pressure toward Burma democratization is negligible. On the other hand, their constructive engagement becomes the regime government's great chance to promote their cause for survival.

VII. Analysis
After the independence, out of 54 years of Burma's freedom, the civilian government had ruled only 12 years: from 1848 to 1958, and from 1960 to 1962. The military regime government's strong resistance to change has kept the society with its traditional model and without much compromise of the contemporary worldviews. The mindsets of the military leaders still stay ever strong to protect the nation against any foreign influence and infiltration of any foreign ideology and social cultural values. On the other hand, the military regime has been in the highest level struggling for its political legitimacy and future political survival. Out of several pressures given by regional and international community and opposition, there has been no systematic political development and any step that the regime has taken is exploitative and favoring only the regime's policy.
Politically, in the recent historic public demonstration against the regime since 1988, most of the people of Burma expressed their support for democracy and have voiced their demand for political transition from military rule to civilian government. However, the people's mindsets and their attachment to traditional societal hierarchical order, lack of democratic education and information, lack of freedom under the military rule, lack of freedom to learn and know the prerequisites intellectual means for democratic practices, all these factors contribute to slow the progress of democratization in Burma. At the same time, under the military's oppressive rule, any dissent or opposition can cost one's life itself. Under the constant surveillance of the military rulers, the civil society has been kept under control, which tightened the free movement of the people, especially concerning political issues. It is a high risk to come up against the military regime as history has taught the people of Burma. Therefore, a situation like the 1988 public uprising is unlikely to happen, although it can happen at any time.
The military regime, since its earlier years in 1960s, has been practicing internal purging from any dissent and potential faction that has helped the military leaders maintain their political role as untouchable at the center. Therefore, there seems to be no potential collapse of the military by itself at this time. The military leaders, since Ne Win's early years, has been removing any potential threat to the figurehead. For example, U Aung Kyi, who was one of the best known among military leaders was removed and jailed by Ne Win in early 1960s, U Aung Shwe a well known political figure was forced to retire, U Tin Oo was accused of coup attempt and jailed in the 1970s, U Tin Oo was recently killed ( by suspected assassination) in a plane crash, and many more. Not only within the military wing, but also among civilians many political figures have been jailed, kept under house arrest, and banned from political movement, and so on. Therefore, there is no potential threat from the opposition from within and outside to the military regime. Moreover, after the struggle for more than a decade, the military regime has gained a lot more political stability inside the country. During the last decade, the regime has made a successful diplomatic deal with most of the armed groups.
Having seen the world's political and historical records of several political transition and regime changes, based the obvious political condition, we can assume that the Burma politics is unlikely to take place in favor of the opposition. However, depending on the extent of the opposition's moderation and negotiability that the military regime government may possibly liberate its position for the sake of a peaceful co-existence and the resolution of a decade long political standoff. Samuel Huntington suggest that in a transplacement and transformation model political transition, which likely going to take place in Burma, both parties have to trust each other for the building of a stable and commonly acceptable political system. Otherwise, the military regime government will manipulate the military power to maintain the central political power, and the cost will be beyond what people would expect. At the same time, the opposition will go on and on without political solution.
The Asia political phenomena has played a very important role for the progress of democratization in Burma. The China's changing political attitude toward the Burma military regime that has support both militarily and economically, Thailand's constructive engagement with the regime government, India's competitive role with China to get involve with the Burma military regime government both economically and militarily, Singapore's constant support for the regime, the ASEAN's constructive engagement with the regime, have all contributed to stabilize the Burma military regime and hinder the effectiveness of international pressure and the opposition's effort for political transition. However, the international economic sanction matters to the regime government's starving economic condition that has threatened the military leaders to at least some extent for fear of future potential crisis that would invalidate their political role.
After 40 years of experience, and having been purged internally again and again, the military government will be able to stand any internal potential faction, and continue cracking down the opposition one way or another. While the opposition, with a few armed groups along the border lines and some the then 1990 MP-elects and political activists around the world will hardly accumulate a balanced political and military power to overthrow the regime government. The UN's soft and gentle interference on human rights issues with its economic sanction and diplomatic pressure, without the cooperation of the Asian sympathizing neighbors, will not dismantle the regime government. For the regime government will defend its political status quo even with the cost of thousands of death tools or severe economic starvation. The recent military build up in both the number of army personals and the military infrastructure and its political show off in dealing with the opposition armed groups, as well as with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proves that the confidence of the regime government to go ahead without initiating major political change.
Looking back to Samuel Huntington's view on the world's political transitions, based on the current political conditions in Burma that provide the political status quo for the regime, the future potential for political transition of Burma can be, with or without suspect, predicted. Replacement transition, according to Huntington, in which a transition the collapse of the regime is necessary by its own internal political rivalry or by the opposition, is unlikely to take place in Burma. Because, after a four decades experience and repeated internal purge within the military wing, and after rebuilding the strength of the Burma military since 1988 with the help of the so called constructive engagement by the Asian neighboring countries, there has been no clue of the collapse of the military regime by its own internal rivalry. The current regime has proved its solidarity during the last April 2002 coup attempt by Ne Win's son in law and three grandsons. They are still strong enough to prevent any coup attempt and are self sufficient without the help of former dictator and father of the military regime, Ne Win, who many believe to be the key remote controller of the Burma military regime. On the other hand, as many as more than 18 of the ethnic armed groups have been under cease-fire with the regime, and only a few groups still remain as armed groups against the regime. Moreover, the main opposition party NLD has no intention to fight the regime government militarily or to bring foreign force to crack down the regime. The number and force of the student activists are combatively and comparatively weak against the Bumra military. The regional or international military intervention is unlikely to occur; all those condition give no potential threat to the regime. Therefore, the complete replacement will not take place based on the present obvious political conditions.
However, the military leaders are aware of the international pressures, the crying demand of the people of Burma for political change, lack of political legitimacy for their political role, and the starving condition of the nation's economy. Since 2000, the military leaders have been having a secret, covert talk with the opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who was released on May 6 2002 from her second term house arrest since 2000, that shows the military leaders' positive gesture toward the opposition and toward possible negotiation. Moreover, the recent release of more than 200 political prisoners and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would pave the way for a future deal between the two opposing parties. The opposition has also learned that without cooperating with the military leaders, they alone cannot bring change in the country. And the overall political phenomena encourage constructive engagement and cooperation between the opposition and the military leaders if one's concern is the resolution of the present political standoff. Therefore, there would possibly be, according to Huntongton's view, a transition that is partly transformation and partly transplacement. In this condition, the reformers within the military wing will have to act to cooperate with the opposition. On the other hand, the opposition, accepting their incapability of bringing a definite change, have to negotiate with the military leaders and open to share even necessary legacies, power and guarantee professional integrity to the military leaders. However, it is suspected to happen that the military leaders would voluntarily surrender their political power to the opposition, who they think are in their hands like a rat before a giant cat or a storm in the teapot. Moreover, it is always true that the military mindset demands unigorable pressure to do what they voluntarily do not want to do.
It is not sure how far the military leaders' next political game will lull the opposition and the international community. Nevertheless, it is certain the military regime has to change its political strategy and deal with the opposition, at least to be appeared as though it is doing things toward democratization and political transition. The regime's national convention has been drafting a national constitution which new constitution will guarantee the military's important political role in the future government. It is hard to believe that the opposition will accept the military leaders' plan for their constitutional rights to be part of the core political decision-making body. Therefore, as the military leaders will always try to prolong the deal, maximizing their opportunity to crack down the opposition, the political transition is unlikely to happen very soon.
To predict the potential detail transition would be too early. However, whatever takes place, the military leaders will monitor the transition process, and mostly the new frame of the new system will be in favor of the military leaders. Otherwise, the opposition has to wait until the military regime be crashed by itself sometime in the future. According to the Burmese tradition, the Kochin sana hmuh mercy of the military leaders may fall upon the opposition and the starving citizens and share, at least some extent, the political power in the central political body. If the opposition will still stand tough on the issues of power sharing there will be difficulty for negotiation and cooperation for the political solution of the country. But, it is hopeful that both parties will be able to leave the past and negotiate for a brighter future of the people of Burma. If the military reformers will be willing to go back to their barracks, the opposition should also promise a beautiful and respectable mansion for their future profession.
To The Military Leaders:
1) The military leaders should initiate a negotiating table where the military, the opposition party leaders, and the ethnic leaders can openly share their vision for the solution of the ongoing political crisis.
2) The military leaders should unconditionally release all political prisoners and allow all political parties involve in the process of democratization.
3) The military leaders should stop all kinds of human rights violations around the country.
4) The military leaders should not ignore the decreasing national economy, which will definitely lead the country into severe crisis if the nation's economy is not reconstructed.
5) The military leaders should allow the people to decide who should rule the country.
6) The military leaders should learn that democracy is necessary for the survival and integrity of the nation.
7) The military leaders should not exploit the ongoing process of democractization and should not try to manipulate the political flow toward their favors.
8) The military leaders should know that they would be much more respected and honored for defending the nation if they do not interfere the central politics.
9) The military leaders should be clearly convinced that they cannot rule the country forever that the sooner they accept political transition from military rule to civilian government the lesser painful consequence will be.
10) The military leaders should allow the UN or foreign expertise to observe or help the process of the negotiation.
To The Opposition
1) The opposition should regard the military leaders as trustworthy leaders for negotiation.
2) The opposition should accept the military leaders' proposal for the military's role of politics in the future government to be discussed on the negotiating table.
3) The opposition should be ready to accept the military leaders' professional integrity with exit guarantee that there should be no punishment on the military leaders for the past grievances caused by the military rule.
4) The opposition should include all ethnic nationalities on the negotiating table.
5) The opposition should invite the UN or international observers to assist and observe the process of negotiation.
To The International Community
1) To give a constant pressure on the Burma regime until an acceptable political transition takes place
2) To increase the support for the progress of democratization in Burma
3) To carefully watch and observe the process of a potential political transition
4) To provide and facilitate any necessary means for the progress of democratization in Burma whenever possible.

I. Top Figures of the Regime
Ne Win (1911- ):
Ne Win, formerly known as Shu Maung, did not graduate and was a postal clerk before he joined the thirty comrades who went to Japan for military training to against the British rule. Later on, he joined anti-Japanese resistance. In 1949, Ne Win replaced Lt-Gen Smith-Dun, the Karen commander-in-chief of the Burma Army and became Deputy Prime Minister, in charge of the Home and Defense ministries, in addition to his post as supreme commander of the armed force. Ne Win led the 1958-1960 caretaker government and seized central political power on March 2, 1962, ruling until 1988. Although it has been suspected that after his resignation from the head of the nation, the April 2002 coup de'tat attempt gave us a clue that the current military regime has separated its political image from the influence of Ne Win. During the coup de'tat attempt of April 2002, Ne Win's son-in-law and three grandsons were arrested.
Gen Than Shwe (1933- ):
Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Gen. Than Shwe was born on Feb 2, 1933 in Kyaykse, Mandalay Division. He attended secondary school and worked as postal clerk and later joined to the military in 1953. He graduated the officer training. He has served as Chief of Staff, Ministry of Defense; Army Deputy Chief of Staff; Deputy Commander in Chief of Defense Services (1990-92); Deputy Chairman, State Law and Order Restoration Council (1990-1992); Chairman, State Law and Order Restoration Council (Sept. 1988-Nov. 1997); Chairman, State Peace and Development Council (Nov. 1997-present); Prime Minister and Minister of Defense (April 1992-present); Minister of Agriculture (present). He seems willing to retire but the regime government needs him for his hard-liner stand.
Lt-Gen Khin Nyut ( 1939- ):
Widely known as the most powerful figure within the ruling junta. He graduated from Officer's Training, and also holds Arts degree. He became a commander of Infantry Battalion No. 20 in 1960, and tactical commander of the 44th Light Infantry Division in 1982. In 1984, he became head of Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence (DDSI). He was a strong hard-liner in crushing the 1988 student pro-democratic activists. He has a close relationship with Ne Win. He is the first Secretary of the SPDC.
Gen Maung Aye (1940- ):
Vice Chairman of the SPDC. He graduated from Defense Service academy and joined the military in 1959. He was promoted to Colonel in 1979. He became the commander of North East Region in 1986 and Eastern Region in 1988. In 1990, he became Deputy Commander in Chief (Defense Service), and Vice Chairman of the SLORC in 1994 and the same position in the PSDC. He is a hard-liner, suspected to be a rival of Lt-Khin Nyut, Secretary 1.
II. Facts about Burma:
Location: South East Asia
Coastline boundaries: 1,930 km, bordering the Adaman Sea, the Bay of bangal between Bangladesh and Thailand.
Area total: 678, 500 sq km; land: 657, 740 sq km; water: 20,760 sq km
Land boundaries total: 5,786 KM
Border countries: Bangladesh 193 km, China 2,185 km, India 1,463 km, Loas 253 km, Thailand 1,800 km.
Geographic coordinates 22 00 N, 98 00 E
Climate: Tropical monsoon-rainy (June-October), winter (Novermber-February) and summer (march-May)
Elevation highest point: Hkhakabo Razi 5, 881 m
Natural resources: petrolium, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydro power
Land use-arable: 15%; permanent corp: 1%; permanent pastures: 1%; forests and woodland: 49% ; other 49% (1993 est.);
integrated land: 10,680 sq km (1993 est.)
Population: 48 million
Nationality: Burmese
Ethnic groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhaine 4%, Chinese 3%, Mon 2%, Indian 2%, other 5%
Population growth rate: 0.6% (2001 est.)
Birth rate: 20.13 birth/1,000 population ( 2001 est.)
Death rate: 12.3 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Sex ratio: 0.99 male(s)/female (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 73.71 deaths/1,000 live birth (2001 est.); 80 ( 2002)
Life expectancy at birth: 55.16 years
Total fertility rate: 2.3 children born/woman (2001 est.)
Public health Expenditure: 0.2% of GDP
Main Telephone line: 2 per 1000 people
Religion: Budhist 89%, Christian 4%, Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%
Languages: Burmese, and minority langueages
Literacy: 83.1% ( above 15 age and older can read and wirte)
Independent: 4 January, 1948
Government type: Military regime
Country name: Union of Burma and its local name is Pyidaungsuh Myanmar Naingngandaw (1948-1974), Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma, its local term-Myanmar naingngandaw (1974-1989), and the Union of Myanmar (1989-till today).
Capital: Rangon also called Yangon.
Administrative divisions: 7 states-Chin state, Kachin state, Shan state, Kayin State, Kayah state, Mon state, Rakhaine state, and 7 divisions-Magway, mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Yangon, Peku, Irrawadi.
Constitution: January 3 1974 ( has been suspended since 18, September 1988). A new constitution is being drawn since 9 January 1993
Executive branch: Democratic government (1948-1958) led by Prime Minister U Nu, care taker government (1958-1960) led by Ne Win, Revulotionary Council, the military regime ( (1962-1988) led by Ne Win, State law and Order restoration Council ( 1988-1992 led by Dr. Maung maung, Sr. General Saw Maung, Sein Lwe, and the State Peace and Development Council ( 1992-present) led by Sr. General Than Shwe.
chief of the state: Prime minister and chairman of the State Peace and Development Coouncil sr. General Than Shwe (since 23 April 1992).
GDP: Purchasing power-$ 63.7 billion (2000 est.)
Real growth rate: 4.9% (2000 est.)
Per capita: purchasing power parity- $ 1,500 ( 2000 est.)
Composition by sector: agriculture-42%, industry-17%, service-41% ( 2000 ets.)
Population below poverty line: 23% ( 1997 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer price): 18% (1999)
Labor force: 19.7 million ( FY 1998/99 est.)
Labor force-by occupation: agriculture 65%, industry 10%, services 25% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 7.1% ( FY 1997/98)
Industries: agricultural processing, textiles and footwear; wood pharmaceuticals; fertilizer
Exports: $ 1.3 billion (1999)
Export commodities: apparel 36%, foodstuff 22%, wood products 21%, precious stones 5%, (1999)
Export partners: India 13%, Singapore 11%, China 11%, US 8%, (1999 est.)
Imports: $ 2.5 billion (1999)
Import commodities: Machinery, transport equipment, construction materiel, food products
Import -partners: Singapore 28%, Thailand 12%, China 10%, Japan 10%, South Korea 9%
Debt - extralnal: $ 6 billion (FY 1998/99)
Currency: Kyat
Exchange rates: US $ 1= 6.5972 (January 2001, official exch.), more than Ks. 700 ( present in Black market)
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower age: 18
Military expenditure: $ 39 million ( FY 1997/98), 2.1% of GDP

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