U Tin E and Burma’s easy way out curse

tiger-as-editorAccording to the late U Tin E, regarded as one of the fathers of today’s Union, the country might have been cursed with a second nature of looking for a quick cure, known as Say Mee Doe in Burmese, whenever a problem arises.

He traced it to the well known Tagaung legend of Kan Yaza Gyi and Kan Yaza Nge, the princely brothers who were told by their dying father that one who was able to construct a pagoda overnight would be designated his heir-apparent. Kan Yaza Gyi, the elder brother, apparently a simple person, tried to accomplish the task in the customary way. His younger brother, on the contrary, was a sophisticated man and what he did was, instead of ordering his workers to make bricks, he instructed them to weave mats which he assembled into a cone shape. This was in turn painted white and before the dawn broke the pagoda was ready for his father’s inspection and subsequent approval.

U Tun E says this slipshod method, while useful for short term goals, are not worthwhile in the long run. The reason is obvious: it only goes for the symptoms but not the root cause.

Just listen to today’s leaders explaining the reason for the non-Burmans’ uprisings against the majority Burmans. According to them, it is because these hills peoples are poor. Make them richer and there’ll be no more insurrections.

Meantime, other leaders are saying the country needs a strong, modern army to prevent its 135 national races from splitting away to establish 135 independent nations. Simply forgetting that the British conquerors were able to do the job with only a handful of infantry battalions:

  • 9 in Burma Proper
  • 6 in the non-Burman territories*
Which clearly demonstrates that having a big army and holding diverse peoples together under the same flag are totally different subjects. Holding them together requires something for more than having an army to buffaloe them and keep them buffaloed.

Anyone can run a country with guns and killings. But to run it without guns and killings, that takes a man, if SHAN is to paraphrase one of the world’s favorite authors.

So our question to anyone who’s leading the country, either behind the curtain or in front of it, and anyone, who aspires to do so, whether man or woman, is: Are you man enough?

*One noteworthy fact is that, in comparison, the British had less number of units in the Frontier Areas than the Burma Army does today:

Burma Proper        :    Frontier Areas
British days      3   :    2
Today               1   :    4

Why so would be an interesting question for researchers to answer.


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