Tatmadaw born of the Union
Myanmar’s Tatmadaw is the armed forces born to the people residing in the Union. It is also the national Tatmadaw equipped with the nationalist farvour inherited from ancestors that never gave an inch to the invaders throughout the history.
Sandwiched between two of world’s most populous country and largest countries, Myanmar could stand tall with its own monarchy for a thousand years. It portrays the unity and strength of ancient Myanmar nationals in safeguarding the motherland.
Although Myanmar had unfortunately fallen under the yoke of colonialism, all Myanmar nationals denied colonial rule by fight against it with improvised weapons.
Although they calmed themselves because of weaknesses in weapons, technologies and force, strong anti-colonialist sentiment was running. Myanmar’s Tatmadaw was born with wars against colonialists and fascists in each age under the names of Burma Independence Army, Burma Defence Army, Patriotic Burmese Force and Burma Army.
In post-independence period, Myanmar’s Tatmadaw, formed with varieties of national races, sacrificed many lives in civil war sparked by political and racial extremists to restore stability of the country. “The country in its infancy amid the storm devastating” had to overcome many daunting challenges for a newly-independent country. Within a year or two after regaining independence, it faced situations of disintegration similar to Yugoslavia. Efforts of the Tatmadaw which could restored every inch of the territory of the country till now from the situation that a very little space of Yangon was under the government’s control, making it called the Yangon government should not go unrecognized.
In those periods, the Tatmadaw also had to fight against alien invaders who threatened the sovereignty and territory of the country. Many Tatmadawmen had to lay down their lives in the fights against domestic and foreign enemies. The State conferred titles on both Bamar and many ethnic soldiers for their performances in the battles. Not only national people, even persons of mixed Anglo parentage and Gurkhas were among the soldiers who fought bravely for the Union. The Tatmadaw was formed with citizens who love the country, regardless of race or colour, and safeguarded the country in love of the country and the Union and in unity.
The Tatmadaw can always stand as a strong and united organization reliable by the people only because of its love of the country and the goodwill to safeguard perpetuation of the Union. Despite some minor cases, Myanmar’s Tatmadaw has long-standing reputation of mutual respect, the thorough chain of command and mission accomplishment throughout the history. Disobedience and mutinies are seldom in Myanmar’s strongest institution.
It was the Tatmadaw which had to salvage the “splitup dramas” of politics prone to sectarianism and rivalry, leading to the downfall of the country.
It was the Tatmadaw which had to save the country from anarchy leading to jamming of government mechanism caused by various instigations to the people who were hit by the crisis due to the weakness of one-party political system and centralized economic system and honestly asked for democratic change.
Though, the Tatmadaw had to deal with hindrances and accusations against attempts for perpetuation and stability of the Union. Actually, it is not such easy to rescue a country from devastating conditions. Sometimes, it had to employ force unavoidably. Sometimes, it had to risk its reputation.
Sometimes, it had to be misunderstood. Whatsoever, the main duty of the Tatmadaw is to uphold non-disintegration, sovereignty and territory of the Union.
It is not the light duty, but the onerous one. And, it is also the national interest. To perform the duty, the Tatmadaw in a spirit of goodwill faced accusations and misunderstanding. Some politicians who lost their interests accused the Tatmadaw as a stooge of authoritarian rule. Some narrow-minded nationalists name it as Bamar army. They accused that it oppressed the minority, breached human rights, and committed mass genocide.
There are persons who criticize parliament for allowing 25 per cent of seats for Defence Services personnel representatives, citing it as undemocratic. However, the Tatmadaw, due to traumatic experiences of the early parliamentary democracy period, worries that the nation would be thrown into turmoil by bigoted egocentric politicians engaged in fierce power struggle, neglecting the interests of the nation and its people. So, it is unfair to blame the Tatmadaw for this. Even in England, known as the oldest democracy of the world, the senators of the entire upper house, known as the House of Lords, inherit the title generation after generation and are not elected ones.
Also in Indonesia, there were service personnel representatives in the parliament in 1998 when democratic reforms were first introduced. Only in 2004, military presence came to an end in parliament. It should be noticed that the constitution of Myanmar is not a non-amendable one but is allowed for legal amendments under changing conditions for the interests of the people. What is important is the coordination among all those engaged in the main political trend with mutual understanding and mature political politeness in national interests.
Myanmar is now in the process of reforms towards a democratic society in new era under new system. At this turning point of great importance in Myanmar history, Myanma Tatmadaw must prepare to accomplish new historical duties in response to the changing conditions.
Nowadays, the world’s strategic spot has shifted to the East Asia under the present international strategic landscape, with the superpowers extending their influences towards Asia Pacific Region. Regional countries have become pawns on the global political chessboard getting entangled in the sensitive strategic moves between the new great power and the present major world power. In the tug of war for balance of power, a strategically important nation like Myanmar must prepare in advance to protect itself safe and sound with solid alertness for self-defence and security. Another major mission of the Tatmadaw is to play an active role in building eternal peace. In reality, the Tatmadaw constituted with Union national brethren, despite the previous fights with ethnic armed groups for national stability, has never liked the meaningless fights between national brethren. Ceasefire discussion with the KNU in 1949, attempt for making peace with the leftists, general amnesty of the Revolutionary Council and attempt for internal peace in 1963, peace talks with KIA in 1980s, peace negotiations with 17 major ethnic armed groups and a number of small groups in the time of State Law and Order Restoration Council and State Peace and Development Council are the concrete evidences that the Tatmadaw has always extended an olive branch for internal peace, under successive governments since the early independence period.
The democratically-elected State government is now holding talks with the remaining ethnic groups for long-lasting eternal peace, bearing encouraging results. Military representatives have been the active members of the peacemaking teams while battalions and stations concerned are acting with Union spirit and goodwill for building mutual understanding and ceasefire agreement in the process of negotiations. The Tatmadaw born of Union national brethren would actively participate in regional development and socio-economic development drive in the interests of the national brethren following the progress in peace process.
Another major obligation of the Tatmadaw is to safeguard the constitution. For over two decades, Myanmar has stood without constitution and now it has one ratified by the majority of the people in the referendum. As the State government and the entire Myanmar national people are working hard in unison to establish multi-party democracy system and market economy in accordance with the constitution, the Tatmadaw, the outstanding offspring of the people, at this rare historical turning point, would join active hands with the people in building peaceful, modern, developed, democratic new nation, safeguarding the constitution.