Maung Shwe – National League for Democracy and Possible Scenarios

SPDC: No idea for dialogue

Senior General Than Shwe, supreme leader of the junta has set preconditions on dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and these are actually not important issues when successful dialogue has been established. It means he do not really want to make dialogue and his minister appointed to build relations to Suu Kyi is just a show managed to avoid increasing international pressure on the junta. In addition to this situation, the junta’s today attempt to detain the lady clearly shows that the junta will do as he wants without other people’s opinion including inclusive dialogue and national reconciliation. It is actually not out of the ordinary from the junta’s mind-set. International communities and NLD repeatedly requested dialogue and inclusive national reconciliation but all the requests have been ignored and disregarded for long time. The manner will not be changed today and future. 

NLD under pressures

Based on the present day situations, people have to ask a question to NLD that the junta detained Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and also ignored Shwe-Gon-Daing declaration, what NLD will response and how. Another important issue at the moment is possibility of pushing pressure on NLD from people who are annoyed and intolerant on the long way, more than two decades taking in restoration of democracy in Burma.  

Some critics to NLD Central Executive Committee have been seen on various media for a time such as ‘lead in decisive way’, ‘overwhelming majority of votes for NLD in 1990 election mean giving mandate to NLD to lead people to eliminate military dictatorship in Burma’, and ‘the junta got position as director, producer, main actor, and screenwriter on Burma political stage results from indecisive and poor leadership quality of NLD’. If the lady is jailed those critics will be thunderous and NLD have to be suffered intense pressure from the critics. 

On the other side of the critics, NLD set survival is first, second and third priorities of the party. Based on the concept, NLD tried to control and manage its members’ explosive condition after Depeyin massacre. NLD made responses to the junta’s non-democratic way of actions by distributing announcements, declarations and statements. During Saffron revolution in 2007, NLD did similar response to the junta. 

Looking at the junta side, although it has already had way to extend house arrest on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the junta did not use the old way. Today stance, the trial is very meaningful and should be thought whether the junta likes to agitate people and like to see more pressure on NLD. As continuation to this thinking, further analysis will be needed on any benefits for the junta if the pressure increasing on NLD and what results the junta expected on the stance. 

NLD and its Journey to 2010

Whatever the cause which bring NLD on today situation, there is no way for NLD to escape from the pressures mentioned above. This is critical to think about NLD near future. The flowchart below is worked out based on today pressures and past experiences of NLD and it shows possible scenarios in relation to NLD’s responses. 

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Scenario – 1

The scenario will come up after inclusive dialogue between the authoritarian regime and pro-democracy side including NLD and ethnic minorities. As a result from optimistic point of view, revised National Constitution with better balance of power among state institutions and the national reconciliation toward liberal democracy and sustainable development will be seen in this scenario. But today situation, such as junta’s ignoring to Shwe-Gon-Daing declaration and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi trial, does not favour to see this kind of scenario. 

Scenario – 2

NLD party members’ responses and attempts with individual manner to obtain expectations of Shwe-Gon-Daing declaration will be seen in this scenario. Different approaches can be observed from different types of campaigns to demonstration on the streets in major cities in Burma. This kind of scenario had been repetitively seen in last 20 years. Profit and lost between NLD and the junta could be taken into account based on plenty of similar scenarios in the past. 

Profit and loss for the NLD: NLD party members and people involved in the scenario especially those who have good leadership skills and ability to counter the regime will be detained and jailed. If their movement is similar to previous attempts in last 20 years, their objectives will not be achieved and they cannot make effective pressure on the junta. NLD might still be survived in this scenario but it will look like a non-poisonous snake. As a profit, their movement will be recognized by the people in Burma and appreciated up to certain extent. 

As an example, saffron revolution in 2007 is very similar to the scenario-2. Profits from the movement are: ending up of National Convention which spending too much time; announcement of referendum will be hold in 2008 and general election in 2010; and noticeably increasing international pressure on the junta. In the past, the timeframe was intentionally concealed by junta. The revolution let people around the world see intrinsic nature of the military regime and their repressive and violated responses to their own people. But leaders of 8888 student generation, university students, Buddhist monks, and prominent pro-democracy activists were jailed in this revolution and they were not able to play in very important period, the national referendum in 2008. Lost of this leaders in the period favoured the junta to manage the referendum as their wishes.  

Profit and loss for the junta: The scenario cannot make any additional pressure on the junta compared to the situation today. So the junta will able to continue as planned without worry. The junta has already noticed that keeping the NLD like a non-poisonous snake rather than calming the NLD as unlawful and illegal organization is the best way to avoid concentrated pressures on the junta. So the scenario will provide good chance to the junta to lead and manage Burma political stage. 

In summary, the scenario will be terrible for NLD but it will make satisfaction to the junta. We can think that the junta creating today trial has aim to get this kind of result and we should carefully manage today situation not to move towards the scenario-2. Furthermore, if NLD move into the scenario – 2, it will not stop there and has to move with very weak status to scenario – 4 or – 5 or – 6 based on it choices.  

Scenario – 4

In this scenario, NLD is just doing announcements and statements as usual responses to the junta’s actions while it is waiting for party registration act and election law for the 2010 General Election. Days after the junta setting out 2010 election law, NLD will announce that it decided not to take part in the election with the reason that the junta ignores NLD Shwe-Gon-Daing declaration and its contents. 

Profit and loss for the NLD: The junta will announce new party registration act and election law for the 2010 election and at the same time they will cancel previous 1990 Election Commission Act and Political Party Registration Act. In their new acts, there is no doubt that the junta will set the laws with clauses in which political parties will not be able to stand without taking part in the election. As a result, NLD will be disappeared on the political play ground made by themselves, without other causes. After completion of the junta’s road-map, (step-6: calling assemblies at both chambers, and step-7: setting up new government) NLD’s 20-year-old 1990 election result will be put into history. People in Burma will talk to NLD like that ‘if you have to do like this, we voted other in 1990 instead you’. The scenario still has another meaning that it treats without respect to NLD members and people who fought against the junta according to 1990 election mandate given by people in Burma and actually, it closes the eyes to its members and families who suffered a lot under the repressive regime. The scenario should not be seen in reality. If the junta sets election law which recognises status of a political party although it does not take part in upcoming election, everybody should pay respect to the junta for their kindness. 

Profit and loss for the junta: The junta with happy mood prepares a press conference and makes known that ‘NLD decided itself not to take part in general election’ and ‘because of this decision, its legal status of a political party is automatically lose according to law’. The junta is now able to stay away from international pressures which come to them through NLD. In summary, the scenario is gold dream at every night of the junta’s supremo Than Shwe and it will also be special gift to the junta. 

Scenario – 5

In this scenario, time is after coming up of 2010 election law and political party registration act from the junta. NLD makes known to people that: it want to avoid situation like scenario – 4; also like to stay away from a status that they agree and support 2008 Constitution created by the junta’s own wish; and there is no way for survival of the party without participating in the election. NLD lets people know that this is why the party chooses to involve in the election at minimum pool stations for its survival according to the new election and registration laws. 

Profit and loss for NLD: In this situation, NLD can be said as a live attenuated party without political power. The first loss will be 1990 election result which is hold for 20 years and the second will be its new status as a minority in both chambers with no chance to show its leadership and effective performance. This is politically dead status for NLD.  

In the past, NLD stood on a side and criticised that: national convention as not democratic and representative to people of Burma; and national constitution as not appropriate for democratic system and not able to bring real national interest of Burma. For that reason, NLD led ‘Vote No’ campaign before and during National Referendum in 2008.  

In the scenario-5, NLD’s decision to participate in the election will move itself to reversed side of its stand points. As a result, NLD might be criticised for its significant change in political standpoint and the situation will place NLD as a political party without capability and power to make a difference for the people in Burma. NLD in the situation will look like a person who is still alive without quality of life. 

Profit and loss for the junta: This scenario-5 will be silver dream of the junta supremo Than Shwe if the scenario-4 is golden one. The junta will be escaped from 20-year-old nightmare, the 1990 election result and its consequences as well such as government and parliament in exile. In addition to that, there will no more strong opposition in both chambers and this situation will provide the best opportunity to the junta to manage both chambers’ functions. In summary, this scenario will be a good bonus for the junta’s little efforts. 

Scenario – 6

Background of the scenario is similar to above scenario-5 as a time after coming up of 2010 election law and party registration act. The difference is the NLD’s decision to take part in 2010 election with full strength with aim to avoid results from scenario-4 and -5 and hold the position as main opposition party in period beyond 2010. 

Profit and loss for NLD: Possible critics to NLD after making decision for the scenario-6 will be much similar to above scenario-5 but one public question might be come up to NLD is ‘why did NLD leave national convention? Changing of the political stand point by NLD will become a target for opponents of the NLD including the junta’s psychological warfare operation. There is no doubt that neutrality of the junta in election will not be same as 1990. In addition to that situation, interventions of USDA members and Swan-Ahr-Shin who are not yet organized in 1990 will be seen in 2010 election. Based on this changing situation, there is very difficult to get good result for NLD like 1990 election. 

If NLD like to choose scenario-6, it will definitely need good defensive strategy and strong unity for changing its standpoint and use effective communication and media to explain why it change its stand point with well-built justification and sensible logic. More important thing is to avoid events like scenario-2 if NLD have to choose the scenario-6. By comparing with scenario-5, NLD will have to struggle more in explaining its changing political stand point but it may take hold of good position at chambers of new constitution. However, it is still difficult to make a difference in chambers as the new constitution is already designed for military to be superior to people representatives. 

Profit and loss for the junta: It is very similar to scenario-5 except only one thing that is related to the junta’s psychological warfare operation. The junta’s psychological warfare officials will busy more than in scenario-5 and have to do more work to push NLD’s opponents to criticise more to NLD. To make easy for them, the junta’s fellows want to see NLD to pass scenario-2 before it reaches to scenario-6. No matter what the fellows are busy with psychological warfare, the scenario-6 is also a reality scene of the junta supremo Than Shwe’s silver dream. 

Scenario – 3

The scenario is much similar to scenario-2 but only the difference is way of organizing work. Movement in scenario-2 based on individual manner and disorganized way but in the scenario-3, it is well organized and whole party involvement with strong commitment from top level to bottom line. Mobilization approaches might be varied from different types of campaign to demonstration on streets and public area and target to achieve Shwe-Gon-Daing declaration’s objectives. 

Profit and loss for NLD: With compare to other scenarios, the scenario-3 will make great loss and also huge profit to NLD. All NLD members can be jailed and party will be announced as unlawful and illegal. But the party will be recognized as strong one stand on own policy and principles without deviation at any time. People who are previously disappointed and frustrated on NLD Central Executive Committee’s leadership style will recognise again on the party and the leadership.  

If scenario-4 is assumed as deadly out from political playground, the scenario-6 can be assumed as lively out. Because the party is still alive in hearts of the people in Burma and when the party members are released, the party will be revitalized again. The political gain can influence the period beyond 2010. The most important thing is to do effectively before the junta freezes the movement and so that NLD will need well designed game plan. Pressure come up from Saffron revolution in 2007 made the junta to announce timetable on the junta’s seven-step road-map which previously concealed the timeframe intentionally and strategically. This scenario will produce effective and strong pressure on the junta to recognize Shwe-Gon-Daing declaration and its contents. 

Profit and loss for the junta: Apparently, the scenario can be assumed that the junta is able to make clear his main opponent, NLD and it gets great profit in this scenario. Nevertheless, the reality show will be different. The junta who is already under pressure due to Saffron revolution, Cyclone Nargis and the trial on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be suffered further intense pressures from this scenario. It will make 1990 election result to be more prominent and legitimacy of 2010 election and 2008 constitution designed by the junta will be automatically put into jail with NLD. Readers can visualise meaningless event, the 2010 election organized by junta while all NLD member are jailed and their party is announced unlawful and illegal. The scenario could be said as the junta does not want to see. It does not relate to sympathizing NLD and is due to great loss for the junta. If junta thinks it is great benefit to them, they have already done this. 

Summarizing Scenarios

In reflection on all above scenarios:


      Scenario-1: According to ways of doing the junta at the present days, there is no chance to see this scenario.


      Scenario-2: The scenario will give more loss than profit to the NLD and people who want democracy. There is no visible and positive result to the people and leave NLD in very weak position. The junta will gain from the scenario by getting chance to find out leaders and potential leaders opposed to them. If NLD decided to go to scenario-6, it must avoid this scenario-2.


      Scenario-3: The scenario will give greater loss and profit compared to above scenario-2. Political profit to NLD will be at the highest position among six scenarios. NLD’s Leadership position can be brought to period beyond 2010. If movement in scenario-3 is too effective and able to synergize with external and internal pressures, Burma political playground might be moved to scenario-1 where national reconciliation will be taken place. If movement in scenario-3 is operated without unity and disarray, the scenario-3 will lead to scenario-2. Do remember events happened in 1990-91 in Burma.


      Scenario-4: Golden dream of the junta supremo Than Shwe. The scenario must not be happened for the people in Burma and it will lead NLD to politically dead position.


      Scenario-5: Silver dream of the junta and the scenario leads NLD to physically alive but political dead position.


      Scenario-6: More or less the same as the above scenario-5 and a little difference is there will be a voice in chambers of the new constitution. 

To be a step ahead of the junta

This article results from brain storming based on events happening on Burma political playground. The scenarios will be more close to reality if people participate more in the exercise especially those who reach information behind the scenes and experiences in military, civil, intelligence unit and people worked with NLD. The next step to do after finalizing the scenarios is to make scenario planning and play in the political field with some steps ahead of the junta. A change can be expected to be democratic nation if greater participation of people to and better understanding of military on the pro-democracy movement in scenario-3. 

If NLD is able to express its programme and steps to the people, this initiative makes people to release their feeling that they are lack of leader when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is kept away from political field. As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, Mahatma Gandhi way or the non-violence way is no need to secret, it is to be transparent and use people power to fight against the authoritative regime. There is still chance to find out ways to proceed with good image and identity in which NLD has shown that he stood firmly on his political stand point before 2010 and took responsibilities as best as he can for the mandate given by people in 1990 election. But time is not too much left. 

May 19, 2009