Myanmar Political and Governmental systems evolved after Independence (1948), and then radical changes instituted by the military dictatorship era happened. Now in the civilian/military pseudo dictatorial/democratic weird mix era, the systems badly fit current weird reality. It is time the most capable and thoughtful Myanmars need to clearly think of the requirements of workable Political and Governmental systems to be implemented. A national debate leads by them to inform and to enlighten the rational segment of the general public, is a pressing need.
The short article below is an extract from Part 3 (second half) of a larger article "Living a Life with Values." Although it was written mainly with regard to the coming elections of 2020, it also underpins the kind of requirements to think about for the needed systems and is a useful starting point for discussions, decisions and actions. Foreign readers are unlikely to know the sense of some of the Bamar words used in this article.
What a major political party might try to tell is that there is not a single sound party large enough that can compete, and win against it and can form the alternative government after the 2020 elections. Even if smaller parties banded together may win as a coalition, they afterward will not have the unity, resources, or the intellect to come up with reform policies, regarding justice, fiscal, educational systems, etc. Whoever claimed to be democratic but is clearly unethical and undemocratic, the people must exercise zero tolerance and voted out those unfit for state political leadership. The political/governmental system is currently not formulated correctly. If the voters are unsure of these issues, the following discussions should provide food for thought of how to fix the Myanmar political system as operated under current pseudo dictatorial/democratic governments with essentially high self-enriching practices.
- Scenario 1. Let us discuss first, the minimum percent of seats NLD must win to retain outright victory. That percentage is 51.
- Scenario 2. NLD can still be the outright winner even with less than 51 percent if the anti-NLD coalition added up less than whatever the total number of NLD wins. There will be MPs that will not join any coalition.
- Scenario 3. If the anti-NLD coalition added up more than whatever the total number of NLD wins just by itself, NLD may still participate as a ruling state power if it can form its own coalition that has more MPs than the opposition main coalition.
- Scenario 4. If not, then it will have to step down from state power. One may consider more scenarios but forecasting meaningful insights would be difficult to ascertain.
- Scenario X. Non-NLD, non-currently constitutional government after 2020.
Scenarios 1 to 3 are all very undesirable. Scenario 3 at least will make Su Kyi difficult to become above the president, presidential advisor. Theoretically, NLD and the military may form a coalition to form a government. But pragmatically, it would be difficult for their lower echelon people to cooperate and to share the spoils. However, if both sides do not care to serve the people, but just interested in exploiting the situation, they might superficially be able to stick together. Scenario X is an impossibility unless the military decided to grab power and may or may not form some kind of coalition. If military leadership mindset remains unchanged, that will be considered as very bad. Military led coalition can become real if the Scenario 4 coalition failed to work out and collapsed. However fragile and shaky Scenario 4 situation is, we need to understand its implications and challenges it will have to face, just in case something good can be figured out and make it workable. Regardless, that way is our best chance toward progress and therefore we need to give it our further best thoughts.
Scenario 4. can be in two flavors. With the military's 25 percentage votes (version 4A), and without those votes (Version 4B). Let us explore the Version 4B scenario first.
Scenario 4B is likely to be coalition of medium and small political parties. Their political agendas are not nation-wide, and will be limited to the regions of activities they are involved. The importance of party will be measured by the number of MPs who got elected, and not by the numbers of candidates fielded. The first problems off the bat are which of the small parties will have their members as president, ministers, and high level officers’ positions. These problems affect all coalitions and every coalition will have to cross that bridge when they got to it. The Think Tank approach of governance to be described a little later, should mitigate this issue, because the acquisition of high position in government would not equate to exploiting the political system for self-aggrandizement. Those who can think better of wider issues than just their regional areas of interests are preferable for higher posts. If they started facing a total impasse, they need to bear in mind, Scenario X can and most likely will replace Scenario 4 very quickly, that may mean possibly another twenty years under the military adhering to its current mindset. If the civilian coalition cares about Myanmar, it need to rethink and decide efficaciously among themselves, and/or accept our advice of how the setup should be.
Once decided, the coalition members will have to take care of the day-to-day business and they need to learn fast of how to. Special training arrangements probably will be needed for this stage. Then at the same time, they need to consider and decide how the (central) Think Tank for the coalition is going to be organized. Among themselves (until new constitutional laws are established) agreements are needed to adopt and carry out policies that the Think Tank people worked out. These policies are for near term (less than a year) and longer term programs. Again, we can give advice of setting up processes as needed.
This Think Tank capability with knowledge based approach can provide the multi-party coalition much greater power than even major parties with no Think Tank. This is a game changer of how within the whole country and at many electoral districts, to have their own fully empowered mini political organizations, fully empowered individuals within the bureaucracy, and even able to vote for the local candidate who were actually born and grew up at that locality.
To begin with, we need to identify and recruit, let us say, the top 100 or so minds with expertise in key areas of knowledge within the country, to form the Think Tank. They are to be tasked to develop the (Pillars of Principles) Mundaings, on which the National Will and the Spirit Requisite for the Growth of Civilization (Bogyoke Aung San) can rest upon. They are to be from all branches of government, including the military, and any governmental Ministries. Also included will be from all Special Interest Groups (SIG) capable of positive contributions. The manpower requirement to be adjusted, on as-need basis and availability. Experts from abroad may be included as needed. Many Think Tank personals are likely to be well adapt in the use of cyber systems and therefore the operation is to be akin to modern business corporations.
All major projects above a certain funding level and life-cycle must be submitted through the Think Tank for approval/disapproval decision process before particular Ministry or combination of Ministries can implement. That way, the "Signature Bonus" corruption practices may be mitigated. All major projects must be compatible with the Mundaings (Pillars of Principles) and the projects must submit to specified inspections to be monitored by the Think Tank inspectors for staying within budget and making real progress.
The important Mundaings to consider for a government are for rule of just and fair laws (justice), equitable sharing of wealth, pragmatic educational programs, health and fitness programs, conservations of wildlife and ecological protection programs, conservation of natural resources, understanding of advance and modern civilizations (elimination of cultural disorders and deficiencies), understanding of pragmatic spirituality (minimize loonies, flunkies, LCD, and all of the above hybrids), anti-corruption methodologies (cyber based systems), monitoring the practices of the various branches of government (executive, legislative, judiciary, bureaucracy), freedom of expression and of the media, etc. It is important to explicitly know these Mundaings, as necessary fundamentals for establishing of Democratic Institutions; considerations for Federalism or alternatives; construction of Container Rail Systems to China and Vietnam from Indian Ocean side (neighboring countries issues), etc. These latter broad base "Upper Level Structures" (utilizing the support of hopefully very sound Pillars of Principles) related topics need to be understood very clearly in Myanmar context), after thorough interactive thinking about them. In many ways, the Think Tank organization should be considered as another branch of government needed within developing countries.
Military dictatorship ended in Brazil in March 1985 after about 21 years’ rule (see Web). The new civilian government immediately set out to reestablish democratic institutions that any current Myanmar pro-democracy government should find out how they go about reestablishing democratic reforms. Countries like China has minorities, and minorities within minorities, but did not adopted Federalism. So Federalism is not necessarily the only approach for governance wherever minorities exist. China and Myanmar in some cases even have the same minorities across their common border. Container Rail Systems to China and Vietnam have very important geo-strategic values, and therefore their construction cannot ordinarily be considered based upon cost pricing, but must be in terms of value pricing. Myanmar should receive the most revenue for the operation on Myanmar territory, and paying the least in terms of investment. The Think Tank and Parliamentary people can work out for new government policies and operating processes to be considered, even if the government is a formation of small and mini parties.
Coming back to think about the 2020 elections, and now we know we can have a new possibility Scenario 4B-2, which can now be a very viable, possible and very important option, but need to set up local mini parties in time before the 2020 elections if they wish to compete. Even if such an arrangement cannot be readied fully for the 2020 elections, the institution of the Think Tank approach is essential as soon as possible for a properly functioning political system of Myanmar, and should therefore be considered as compelling.
It is advisable that an over-arching committee (with its logo to indicate as coalition coordinator) be formed to coordinate the mini parties, and to let the voters be aware of coalition arrangement by displaying its logo with mini party's logo together as needed. The coalition committee may be tentatively called DoePyi (our country). Any party except NLD, can become member of DoePyi even after the elections as long as it has at least a winning MP. NLD MPs may split from NLD and join DoePyi coalition. It would be desirable that Scenario 4B-2 would likely be a coalition which is comparable or bigger in size to the 25 percent voting power of the military. If that is the case, even the military could be part of the coalition without needing to be too concern of them getting overbearing. That is, Scenario 4A and 4B-2 may then be considered broadly as to be of the same league.
One weakness of the mini party approach in the early stages, is that many of the local MP's ethics can be sub-standard. In this poverty ridden society, US $1000 per person can buy plenty of shenanigans. In addition to the Think Tank oversight arrangement, there are now anti-bribery methodologies such as ISO 37001 (see Web) that companies such as Microsoft is using. It should not be difficult to adapt and adopt these cyber based methodologies to a comparatively much simpler system requirements of mini-party coalitions. By 2025 elections, many of the undesirables could by then, be weeded out. Another important challenge will be to find an effective party whip. A positive character who will constantly remind his troops of the reasons of why they are together and to fight the good fight and win for Myanmar.
There are NGOs (local as well as international) already within Myanmar whose fields of interests are about Local Government, Public Participation, etc. They should be capable of organizing the planning and implementation of the above strategies and tactics. It should not be too difficult for those like them to implement, using the cyber approach called for ISO 37001 requirements, or of the cyber support regarding the Think Tank, operating with the best minds of Myanmar.
We need to be absolutely aware that Myanmar by developed countries' standard is at crisis point. Since its Independence, the country's political leadership is abysmal. It is verging toward a fourth world country, instead of moving forward to second world. Is Myanmar going to be regressing back for the next 10 to 15 years to the days of the last Bamar kings? The last Bamar king was driven out of the Palace's West Gate normally reserved for removing corpses. There may not yet be the last President of the Republic in 15 years from now, but if humungous foreign loan debts are allowed to accrue unchecked, he will be merely serving essentially as head peon of an insignificant people.
Thoughtful people of Myanmar are watching, the military community is watching, the Taing Yin Tars (Ethnic groups) are watching, the poor people who has to eke out a living are watching, people who are concern of the rule of just laws are watching, people who cares of the sovereignty of Myanmar are watching, international groups interested in Myanmar are watching, people with positive sense of Spirituality are watching, students who are very concern of being able to grow up within a progressive and humane Nation are watching, of whether the next so called pro-democracy government will have more vision or greater sense of justice will be in state power after the 2020 elections.
Myanmar need to be fully aware that they are at an extremely critical cross-road -- The elections of 2020. To be, or not to be -- a Nation with SAMADHI? When the National Will and the Spirit Requisite for the Growth of Civilization become real to be so, we will be together to make it happen. Will that be in 2020? ☼