RANGOON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS UNION
Seated left to right
first row: Ko Thi Han, M. A. Raschid [Vice President], Ko Nu
[President], Ko Ohn, Ko Aung San.
At the Shwe Dagon Pagoda Rangoon University Strikers Camp.
THE RED DRAGON BOOK CLUB
The chronicle of Burma's Independence struggle would not be complete if Nagani Book Club or the Red Dragon Book Club is omitted and if the founder of the Nagani Book Club Thakin Nu is neglected to mention, then, the story of the Red Dragon Book Club would not be conclusive. Nagai inspired young and old alike to strive for freedom, free from the British yoke, and, Nagani put that torch aflame.
in the Dr. Ba Maws Government under
the Japanese Occupying Forces
Seated Left to Right: Honble U Kyaw Nyein [Home and Judiciary], Sir Ba U [Chief Justice], Lady Rance, Honble Thakin Nu [Prime Minister], HE Sir Hubert Rance [Governor], The Earl of Listowel [Secretary of State for Burma], Honble Bo Let Ya [Defense], Sir Gilbert Laithwaite, Honble U Tin Tut [Foreign Affairs].
Standing first row: second from left Honble Mahn Win Maung, third from left Honble Bo Po Kun, eight from left Honble Thakin Tin, ninth from left Honble Henzada U Mya, and tenth from left Honble U Vun Ko Hau.
Standing second row: second from left Honble Pyawbwe U Mya, and fourth from left Honble U Ba Gyan.
With this agreement Burma regained independence from Britain.
The Union of the Republic of Burma has become an Independent Sovereign State.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
AND THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF BURMA
London, 17th October, 1947.
The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Provisional Government of Burma;
Considering that it is the intention of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to invite Parliament to pass legislation at an early date providing that Burma shall become an independent State;
Desiring to define
their future relations as the Governments of independent States
on the terms of complete freedom, equality and independence and
to consolidate and perpetuate the cordial friendship and good
understanding which subsist between them; and
Have decided to conclude
a treaty for this purpose and have appointed as their plenipotentiaries:-
Who have agreed as follows:-
The Provisional Government of Burma reaffirm their agreement to pay over in full proceeds of the sale of Army [including Civil Affairs Service (Burma)] stores. The Government of the United Kingdom agree to make no claim on the Provisional Government of Burma for repayment of the cost of the Civil Affairs Administration prior to the restoration of civil government.
The Government of the United Kingdom agree to cancel 15 million of the sums advanced towards the deficits on the Ordinary Budget and the Frontier Areas Budget. The balance of the sums will be repaid by Burma in twenty equal yearly instalments beginning not later than 1st April, 1952, no interest being chargeable. The cancellation of this amount of Burma's indebtedness is accepted by the Provisional Government of Burma as a further contribution by the Government of the United Kingdom towards the restoration of Burma's financial position and as a final liquidation of their claim in respect of the cost of supplies and services furnished to the British Military Administration in Burma.
The Provisional Government of Burma agree to repay in full the sums advanced by the Government of the United Kingdom towards expenditure on Projects (including Public Utilities, etc.). In accordance with existing agreements, repayment will continue to be made from current receipts in excess of necessary outgoings and working capital and from the proceeds of liquidation, and the balance of advances outstanding will be repaid by the Provisional Government of Burma in twenty equal yearly instalments beginning not later than 1st April, 1952, no interest being chargeable.
The Government of the United Kingdom agree to continue to reimburse the Provisional Government of Burma for expenditure in respect of - claims for supplies and services rendered to the Burma Army in the Burma campaign of 1942; and release benefits payable on demobilisation to Burma Army personnel for war service.
Except in so far as they are specifically modified or superseded by the terms of this Agreement and of the Defence Agreement of 29th August, 1947, the provisions of the Financial Agreement of 30th April, 1947 [Hansard, 22nd May, 1947, Columns 276-7.] between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Burma remain in force.
(b) In so far as any property, or any interest in any property vested in any person or authority in Burma before the coming into force of the Constitution of the Union of Burma, or the benefit of any contract entered into by any such person or authority before that date, is thereafter transferred to, or vested in the Provisional or any successor Government of Burma, it shall be so transferred or vested subject to such rights as may previously have been created and still subsist therein, or in respect thereof, in favour of any person or company of the status or character described in the preceding sub-article.
In witness whereof the above-named plenipotentiaries have signed the present Treaty and have affixed thereto their Seals.
Done in duplicate in London this 17th day of October, 1947.
INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH
January 4, 1948.
From the dim and distant days shrouded in the mists of antiquity, born of the same mother the Shan, Kachin, Karen, Chin, Mon and the Burman brethren have lived in loving friendship, in unity that could not be shattered and in freedom that could not be shackled. The freedom we have won is not the freedom for a privileged few. This freedom is for all the indigenous peoples, for all the sons and daughters of our sacred soil to enjoy. No community, no tongues, no creed, no sect divide us and we are one. The Union of the Republic of Burma has become an Independent Sovereign State.
U Nu was very much impressed with Mhattamajis down to earth life style as well as the mat hat which he observed during the visit. Upon his return Premier Nu ordered a special Burmese hat and sent U Ohn to represent him in presenting the hat to the national leader of India, Mahattamaji. Unfortunately, as U Ohns special plane was hovering over New Delhis airport Mahattamaji was short to death by a Hindi extremist.
In his younger days, Premier Nu took a vow that he would undergo to fulfill parami hpjei [strive to and help others attain the virtues] the necessary parami [the ten principal virtues]. They are: Dhanna [charity], Thihla [precepts], Neikhama [renunciation], Pyinnyar [knowledge], Wiriya [endeavor], Thitsar [veracity], Khanti [forbearance], Myittar [benevolence], Upyitkhar [detachment], and Adeikhtan [vow] to attain Buddha-hood to salvage all sentient beings. He had never lost sight of his resolution and tried to add more vows to improve his original resolution no matter in what preoccupation he was trapped in.
When he became the
Prime Minister he was just a little over 40 years old. Soon after
he and his family settled in at the Windermere Park he ordered
a new wooden house built in the same compound where he later
stayed leaving the main household as well as the family behind.
With one eye on the attainment of the Buddha-hood Premier Nu
took a vow of celibacy at the age of 41. Daw Mya Yi also took
the vow to help assist her husband in his endeavor to attain
the Buddha-hood in every humanly possible way, a promise made
not only in this present life but also in the Than dhaja
[cycle of rebirths], many millions of lives to come.
Sometimes in 1949 when the Government of Burma started to have a little breather, Premier Nu received an urgent message requesting special assistance from Indonesia's nationalist freedom fighter Dr. Soekarno. Indonesia was at the last stage of its struggle against the Dutch and their independence movement was in dire need of such assistance to make the final putsch.
The Burmese Government scrounged through its arsenal and loaded whatever was available onto two Union of Burma Airways DC 3 planes. Minister of Commerce Thakin Thar Khin was assigned, under Cabinet decision to deliver the consignment to Indonesia's beleaguered leader. When Thakin Thar Khins two planes entered Indonesia air space two Dutch fighters approached and challenged. The Pilots hoisted the Burmese flag on top of the planes and responded that the Burmese Minister of Commerce and his trade delegation were on their way to visit Jakarta. The two Burmese planes landed and taxied to the other end as prearranged and unloaded the cargo into the hands of the freedom fighters. This arm delivery was one of the straws that broke the Dutches back in Indonesia. The Minister of Commerce of the Union of Burma had successfully carried out the official gun running business to help assist Indonesia to regain its independence.
Seated from Left
to Right: Honble Mrs. Ba Maung Chain , Honble Sao
Khun Cho, H.E. Premier U Nu, H.E. President Dr. Ba U, Honble
U Ba Swe, Honble U Tin and Honble U Win.
Premier Nu, following the example of the Government of Iran in employing foreign firm to compile a report on economic resources, instructed Secretary for the National Planning U Hla Muang to find a suitable firm for the similar task for Burma. U Hla Maung recruited Knappen-Tippetts-Abbett Engineering Company [KTA], which enlisted Pierce Management [mining specialists] and Robert R. Nathan Associates [RRNA] [a group of economists]. Robert Nathan had been a lieutenant in the New Deal program of President Roosevelt and was dubbed as a brain child of Roosevelt [I, for one, prefer the free enterprise democratic system and am convinced it can function successfully and for the benefit of all mankind." Robert R. Nathan, Mobilizing for Abundance, November 1943.]. KTA was first funded by the US and had arrived in Rangoon in 1951. The Government of the Union of Burma notified the US Government that the aid program would be brought to an end on June 30, 1953. The Burmese Government footed the bill and kept the KTA until they completed their studies.
From August 4 to 17 of 1952, the AFPFL government initiated a Conference in Rangoon, which was known as Pyidawtha Conference with specific application as local self-help or community cooperation. The Conference agenda was as follows: August 4: Prime Ministers opening keynote speech Towards a Welfare State; August 7: Minister Bo Min Gaung Plan for the Devolution of Powers; August 8: Minister U Ba Swe Democratization of Local Administration; August 9: Minister Bo Khin Maung Gale Agricultural and Rural Development Five-Year Plan; August 11: Minister U Kyaw Myint Target for Economic Development; August 12 Minister Thakin Tin Land Nationalization Plan; August 13: Minister U Ba Saw Development Plan for the Underdeveloped Areas; August 14: Minister M. A. Raschid Housing Plan; August 15: Minister Mahn Win Maung Transport and Communications; August 16: Minister U Than Aung Education Plan; August 17: Minister U Khin Maung Latt Medical and Public Health Plans.
Premier Nus Towards a Welfare State marathon speech lasted more than four and one half-hour in which he expressed strongly that he looked forward to the time when every family in Burma would possess a house, a car, and an income of Kyats 800 per month and he stressed your country is rich enough to provide these amenities.
Throughout his tenure in office cow slaughter was banned by Premier Nu except for the armed forces on regular basis and Muslims for their special occasions. Detractors and opponents accused that cow in Burmese is Nwa and both Nwa and Nu are sanei nan [belong to Saturday planet] and therefore U Nu prevented it from killing. What nonsense? Premier Nu explained why he opposed and banned cow slaughter If cattle were raised just for slaughtering for meat I would not have objected at all. But cows were used as beast of burden from whose hard labor we human beings benefited and when they grew old and could not carry on the burden, then, cows were slaughtered. It is not only utter cruelty but also ungrateful to our benefactors.
The Naga from Burma,
the Head Hunters cannibals, crossed into India and hunted several
heads of the Indian Nagas. This saga had been going on for ages.
Premier Nu took the initiative and pacified the indigenous Nagas.
Premier Nehru of India was invited to attend the Peace Ceremony
where the Nagas had laid down their arms to Burmas Government
and returned to peaceful co-existence. Premiers Nehru and Nu
participated in the Naga victory dance.
After Independence was re-gained from the British the communists went underground. Some ethnic groups joined the rebellion and many areas within Burma had become killing fields. With the motto Peace within a year Premier Nu tried his level best to restore peaceful coexistence among the majority Burmese and the ethnic minorities. Premier Nu invited Karen national leader Saw Ba Oogyi to his official residence to discuss peace plan. Saw Ba Oogyi spent about three days and three nights staying as the house guest of Premier Nu.
The international press ridiculed Premier Nus government and dubbed as Rangoon Government. As a matter of fact it was not wrong because the writ of government reached no further than the circumference of the Rangoon City limit. One city after another fell to the insurgents throughout the country. In 1949 Burmas major cities and towns were under insurgents, for example: Mawchi, Papun, Thaton, Bassein, Insein, Twante, Pantanaw, Einme, Nyaunglebin, Taungoo, Meikhtila, Kyaukse, Maymyo, Mandalay, Loikaw, Taunggyi, Lashio, and Namkhan were under KNDO; Henzada, Tharawaddy, Pyinmana, Yamethin, Myingyan, and Pakoku were under Communists; Prome, Thayetmyo, Magwe, Minbu, Yenangyaung, Chauk, Thandwe and Kyaukphyu were under PVO and Army Mutineers. The Mujahids controlled Rathedaung and Buthidaung.
International opinion on Burma was horrendous. By early 1950 the United States regarded Burma as finished. President Trumans roving ambassador Philip Jessup summed up Burmas situation as well-nigh hopeless. There was an American Mission to investigate the conditions to determine the possibility of granting US Aid in April 1950, and asked the Burmese Government whether a necessary condition for the sanctioning of aid would be the adoption by Burma of an anti-Communist attitude. The Burmese Government tartly replied that Our government will be satisfied if you can drive all over Rangoon and not see a single roadblock.
The Government of the Union of Burma was facing a firsthand onslaught of colossal betrayal by its own armed forces as well as by some eerie ethnic minorities. The armed forces, whose fundamental duty was to defend the Constitution and the government elected in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution by the people, but, to the contrary, the armed forces of Burma mutinied against the legally elected government, breaking the oath of allegiance they took every morning. Burma Army was, from the very early days, capricious and had partiality to betraying the people.
First Burma Rifles [1st Burifs], one half of Third Burma Rifles [3rd Burifs], Sixth Burma Rifles [6th Burifs] defected to the Communist Party of Burma [CPB]. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Karen Rifles and 1st Kachin Rifles defected to the KNDO [Karen National Defense Organization]. A resounding 42% of its personnel and 45% of all equipment of the Burma Army were estimated lost to the rebels. There were approximately 2,000 soldiers defending the government of the Union in early 1949. But, within a couple of years Burma armed forces had raised to the strength of more than 30,000 well-equipped soldiers by the relentless and unwrinkled efforts made by the civilian political as well as by the military leaders, who remained, so far, loyal to the Constitution.
If Bogyoke Aung San was regarded as the father of the Burma Armed Forces, Premier Nu could be unmistakably regarded as the most benevolent Uncle who had helped reestablished the Burma Army to its stature and shape. Besides, Premier Nu had saved once the Army from becoming an illegitimate rebel force in 1958 by transferring state power through legal means in the Parliament when two top brass power-mongers Colonels Aung Gyi and Maung Maung planned to seize the State power.
If and once the Constitution is abrogated the armed forces that was formed under the stipulations of the Constitution becomes no more than a mere bunch of insurgents.
Sometimes in 1952 Premier Nu meditated a few days with a singular aspiration of focusing on the design of the edifice for the Synod. When he was satisfied with what he had envisioned during his meditation he gave instructions to U Hla Gyaw [Fire Brigade], elder brother of Minister Bo Min Gaung and gave detail design of a cave. A model was brought to Premier Nu within a few days. That was how the Mahapatharna Cave or Guha was implemented near Kaba Aye Pagoda.
When Kaba Aye Pagoda was built it was solely built with donations from the people. The Cave for the Sixth Synod was built through governments fund as well as donations from the public. Days after days, students and people, old and young alike from all walks of life, from near and afar gave free labor. Many organizations donated free food and drink to the people donating labor.
On May 17, 1954, the world celebrated the 3-Day Opening Ceremony of the Chatta Sangayana at the Maha Pasana Guha [Sixth Buddhist Synod] commenced with pomp and pageantry. The First Great Council held at Rajagaha, India four months after His Mahaparinibbana with the aim to arrange, classify and recite; the Second Great Council held at Vesali, in India, in 100 B.E.; the Third Great Council at Pataliputta in India, 235 B.E.; the Fourth Great Council at Ceylon, circa 450 B.E.; the Fifth Great Council at Mandalay in Burma in 2415 B.E.
Now the Sixth was
decided by the five Theravadin countries of Burma, Thailand,
Ceylon, Cambodia and Laos to satisfy the following conditions:
Messages were sent from His Holiness Somdet Phra Vajirayannavongs, Supreme Patriarch of Thailand; Lanka Uttaritara Saba, Supreme Executive Council of Ceylon; H.E. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of India; His Majesty the King of Nepal Tribuban Bira Bikram Shah Deva; His Majesty the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej, Upholder of the Buddhist Faith in Thailand; Sangharaja of Cambodia His Holiness Samdach Preah Maha Sumedhadhipati; Rt. Honble Sir John Kotelawala, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka; Honble Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India; Honble Mr. Shigeru Yoshida, Prime Minister of Japan; Honble Shri M.P. Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal; Honble Mr. Shuhei Higa, Chief Executive of the Government of Ryukyu Islands; Honble Field-Marshal P. Pibulsonggram, President of the Council of Ministers of Thailand; Her Majestys Government of United Kingdom of Great Britain, and many dignities.
Premier U Nu made the concluding remark: The Union Buddha Sasana Council has, on behalf of the Government and the people of Burma, constituted 48 groups of Pali Editors and 116 boards of Revisers selected from amongst Mahatheras and monks of other Theravada Buddhist countries who are highly proficient in the Pali Scriptures. The scriptures were put into five main divisions and the words and characters in them have been edited and revised in comparison with the various editions of the Pali Texts of the Scriptures from Therava countries and also with commentaries, sub-commentaries, grammars and dictionaries of all sorts and this work has been finished. A good and correct text of the Vinaya Pitaka acceptable to the monks of Burma and other Theravadin countries was produced and its printing has been completed. The printing of the Sutta Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka will be taken in hand in continuation in a regular series.
It is now time for a righteous decision to be taken and a collective recital made of this good and correct text of the Pali Pitaka Scriptures which has been edited and revised again and again by 2,500 wise monks present at the great assembly of the Sixth Buddhist Council, who are virtuous and fond of discipline, well versed in the Scriptures and devoted to religious practices, in the same fashion as was done at the First Buddhist Council by 500 Arahats led by Venerable Mahakassapa, Upali, Ananda, Anuruddha and others.
In making preparations for the First Buddhist Council, King Ajatasattu, Supporter of the Sasana addressed the Arahats mahatheras, headed by Mahakassapa thus: [Sadhu bhante visattharkarotha mayam anacakkam tumhakam dhammacakkam] Venerable Sirs, please give a righteous decision with regard to the doctrine without any fear or hesitancy, while I on my part will protect you with temporal power. Following that precedent, I shall address the Venerable abbots and monks now present at the holding of the Sixth Buddhist Council, on behalf of the Union Government and the people of Burma, headed by the Buddha Sasana Council and composed of various nationalities, such as the Burmans, Mon, Shan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Arakanese and Kayah in this manner. Venerable Sirs, please give a righteous decision with regard to the good and correct form of Pitaka Scriptures, while the Union Government will protect you with legal authority. May I most respectfully request you, Venerable Sirs, who are virtuous, fond of discipline, well versed in the sacred scriptures and devoted to righteous practices, and who belong to the noble lineage of holy Arahats, to give a recital of the Scriptures without any fear or hesitancy.
Venerable Mahasi Sayardor Phyarji U Thawbita, on behalf of the Sangha congregation raised questions to find out whether the Lord Buddha himself gave such Suttas - when and why, etc? Venerable Ashin U Wisaittasara Vivemsa answered in details on what occasion and where the Lord Buddha gave such Sutta or sermon and reason of given such Sutta. The Sixth Synod did successfully close, exactly two years after it had commenced on the day coincided with Buddhist Calendar, the Day of Completion of Year 2,500 After Death of the Lord Buddha, May 24, 1956.
Premier Nu made round the world trip visiting various countries in 1955. From left to right: Major Lwin, Chief of Military Intelligence, War Office; U Thant, Prime Ministers Information Secretary who later became the Secretary General of the United Nations [UN]; U Hla, Second Secretary, Prime Ministers Office; Daw Mya Yi [Mrs. Nu]; and, Premier Nu of Burma.
THE JAPANESE EMPEROR AND THE EMPRESS
Politicking, or, socializing, or, doing meritorious deeds the two did them with one mind and one objective He to become Buddha and she to provide any humanly possible support for him to attain the Omniscience throughout the Samsara: [cycle of rebirths].
GAVE A SPEECH TO THE JOINT SESSION
From left to right: Congressional leaders, third from left: Burmas Ambassador to the United States of America James Barrington, Premiers Information Secretary U Thant, Military Intelligence Chief Major Lwin, and Premier Nu.
VISITING WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF THAILAND
H.E. Field Marshal Pibul Songram and Madame Liard Songram
Premier Nu made a public speech at Sanam Luang, near Emerald Buddha where he made a public apology to the people of Thailand on behalf of the people of Burma, and, added he along with the people of Burma of today were not responsible for the atrocities that the Burmese had incurred on the Thais because we were not born then'.
WITH SOVIET LEADERS KRUSCHEV AND BULGANIN
Sometime in late December 1955 Soviet Communist party Secretary General Khrushchev and Premier Bulganin visited Burma. Premier Nus AFPFL government gave them rousing welcome by having young students lined up the Prome Road from the Mingaladon airport all the way to the President House where the two were residing. It was one of the biggest blows to the Burmese Communists that had followed directives from the Soviet Communist Party to go underground as Soviets CCCP advocated that the Independence Burma gained from the British was a sham. The independence must be fought to regain; then only it was a genuine independence, according to the Stalinist line. The only genuine independence was the one that gained through revolution. The Stalinist line had sent many Asian Communist parties to underground. Though all of them returned to the legal fold Burmas Communists never returned. The Soviet leaders visit to Burma tantamount to full recognition to the so-called sham independence of Burma as the genuine one.
THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF THE NON-ALLIGNED AND NEUTRAL COUNTRIES VISITED BURMA
From left to right: Foreign Minister of South Vietnam, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Premier Chou En-lai of Peoples Republic of China, President Dr. Ba U, Premier Nehru of India, President Nasser of Egypt, Foreign Minister Marshall Chen Yi of Peoples Republic of China, and, Premier U Nu of Burma.
Front row from left
to right: Israeli Counselor, U Raschid, Israeli Ambassador in
Burmese dress, Premier Nu, Deputy Prime Minister U Kyaw Nyein,
and Chief Justice U Myint Thein.
URBAN TOUR IN INDONESIA
The government under Premier Nu held regular press conferences at the Conference Pavilion inside Windermere Park. A few days before a regular press conference, almost all the newspaper declared that under the Nu-Tin Government there was no freedom of press and expression. Therefore, from the day of the press conference there would be no editorial but only blackout as an expression that the editors could not express freely.
The Prime Minister, Dr. E Maung, Prime Ministers Advisor U Ohn and few other ministers were in attendance at the press conference. Premier Nu opened the conference as follows:
Well, friends and respected masters of freedom of expression, all of todays papers have blackouts editorials as an expression of lack of freedom of expression under this government. I welcome the expression heartily. But, let me examine with all of you that would it be possible to express or demonstrate in such a manner under a dictatorial government where freedom of expression is forbidden or unheard of thing? I want you to reconsider seriously that the fact alone that you all are in attendance after expressing the editorial with blackouts columns, is it not to be considered as the freedom of expression prevails under this government?
All the journalists, publishers, editors in attendance were in stony silence, even a drop of a pin could be heard in the Pavilion. Both sides seemed to be sizing up each other. A few minutes had passed without a word. There, slowly, Ed Law Yone of the English Dailies, The Nation, stood up and rebutted: Mr. Prime Minister, ministers and fellow journalists, we are here to protest against the Government, we had planned and we had even implemented our first step by publishing blackout editorial today. Now, we have to report tomorrow what the Prime Minister just now argued and I am sure after reading such explanation or argument I dont think the masses would abide by our side. All things considered, may we call our protest - off?
The journalists moved a bit in their seats but no comment was made for a few more minutes. U Ohn Khin, Editor of Bamakhit stood up, I support U Law Yones move and I am satisfied with what Ko Nu had explained or argued. I called quit. Loud whispers among the journalists were heard and one of the junior journalists stood up after a while and announced: the Protest against the government concerning the freedom of expression has been called - quit.
Just before the State Power was legally transferred, Premier Nu as the Prime Minister formed an independent Inquiry Commission with Justice U Thein Maung as its head to inquire whether he, as the Prime Minister, had done any misappropriation or any wrong doing, and if so, the Commission is to advice the Caretaker Government to take action against him. The Commission after deliberation and investigation reported there was no wrong doing what so ever Premier Nu had committed.
Anyhow, the first act of the Caretaker Prime Minister Ne Win was ordering revocation of the ban on cow slaughter license. Simultaneously, Ne Win formed an Inquiry Commission and appointed U Lun Baw, Chief of the Civil Service Commission as its head and instructed to investigate whether there was any misappropriation of the outgoing government especially in building the Kabar Aye [World Peace] Pagoda, the Withakhar Pavilion and the Cave that held Sixth Buddhist Synod. Lun Baw Commission reported that Kabar Aye Pagoda was built solely with the general public donation and there was not a single penny misappropriated from the government coffer; Daw Mya Yi [Mrs. Nu] built the Withakhar Pavilion with the funds donated by her friends, not even a penny was publicly collected let alone misappropriated the government funds. As for the Cave, both public donation and Cabinet approved budget for the construction were used and there was no misappropriation.
On May 1, 1959 Premier Nu, the President of the Clean AFPFL gave a speech on the Northern Ground of the Shwedagon Pagoda, Martyrs Hill. To sum up the speech, what Premier Nu said was that if the mandated elections was not going to hold, which was already overdue, the Clean AFPFL would lead a non-cooperation civil disobedient movement. He commandeered the masses to get ready for the event.
Premier Nu propounded that In a totalitarian system, the only thing that is taken into account is the accomplishment or completion of what the dictator or dictator-group wants, and declared As our Union of Burma is a democratic country, the power of the government is derived from the people. This is explicitly stated in the Constitution. Therefore, in this country the Government must exist for the people only; the people should not exist for the government. The government cannot or should not by force impose on the people all that it wants to do. The public should be first informed and educated. The leaders of the people should be asked to discussions and consultations. If there are differences of opinion, compromises and concessions should be made on a give-and-take basis.
An analysis Premier Nu made was that Firstly, the road of compliance, taking the attitude that nothing can be done in the present circumstances. Secondly, the road of violent retaliation, taking the attitude that force must be met by force. Thirdly, the road of Non-Violent Struggle for Democracy,which is to meetanger and hostility with love and amicableness on our side the course of conduct approved by the Buddha.
The course of action was unfolded and explained that some persons would participate in mass meetings, procession, and collective prayer-meetings; other would just pray according to their own religions for the preservation of democracy from threats and dangers; while still others would go about doing meritorious deeds, such as offering alms to monks, buying up live fish from the market and letting the fish go unharmed back to rivers and lakes; and he arduously presented that I myself am quite resolved and am firmly determined in the cause of democracy to face and endure without flinching any danger, any risk, whether it is arrest, torture, or death.
Premier Nu intensified his condemnation of the vipers within the midst of the AFPFL --- Idlers, self-seekers, opportunists, and power maniacs. Premier Nu used BSI to set an exemplary. In the Cabinet Premier Nu proposed BSI to investigate his wife Daw Mya Yi in buying an estate on Goodliffe Road. As an addendum he assigned Cabinet Secretary U Win Phay, an ICS, attached to the BSI in this particular case per se.
Daw Mya Yi was quite appalled when BSI Director U Chan Thar sought an appointment and added he would come along with the Cabinet Secretary U Win Phay. Daw Mya Yi was able to present the deeds and title that she bought from U Hla Gyaw, the original owner, at a total price of Kyat 8,000. The investigators were satisfied, as the case was pure business transaction between the two free consented adults. The case was cleared and reported to the Cabinet as it was decided at the Cabinet level.
The Constituent Assembly was opened on June 9, 1947. Though Thakin Nu was invited as the Vice President of the AFPFL he did not attend at all. It was quite apparent that Bogyoke Aung San, on principle could not accept any mentioning of religion in the Constitution. Some members wished to include religion in some form or other, while others openly desired that Buddhism be made the state religion. But no one dared to broach the subject because it would have to go against Bogyoke Aung San. It was over my dead body type of situation between the hard surface and the rock.
Some prominent monks and Buddhist leaders made an appeal in the newspapers that Buddhism be written into the Constitution as the State Religion. The newspaper articles were slipped into Bo Aung Sans hand for perusal in the midst of a speech given before a conference. Bogyoke exploded I cant be getting up to look every time the dogs bark.
Bo Aung Sans snappish and uncouth remark had made monks as well as Buddhist leaders inconsolable so much so that British Governor Sir Hubert Rance requested Thakin Nu to intervene and provided a copy of the Irish Constitution. The Irish Constitution stated thatCatholicism was the religion professed by the majority but that Protestantism also had its adherents, and suggested Buddhism might be included in this guise in the Burmas Constitution.
Thakin Nu took the Irish Constitution and headed for Bogyokes residence, and, as a result, when the Draft Constitution was published, many were pleasantly surprised to see Section 21:  The State recognizes the special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens of the Union.  The State also recognizes Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Animism as some of the religions existing in the Union at the date of the coming into operation of this Constitution.
In a country where approximately 85% of the total population professed Buddhism, it would not be too presumptuous to take up Buddhism as the State Religion as long as there is no religious persecution and substantive tolerance of other religion prevails.
Premier Nu, with his insuppressible zeal and with more than two-third majority in the parliament after the 1960 elections was prepared to introduce the State Religion Bill to be amended in the Constitution.
Premier Nu could have done the task in the parliament; instead he formed an Inquiry Commission to sound out the public opinion. Except at a town in Kachin State, where the Commission met rough reception, the entire country gave resounding approval. No religious leaders filed complaint that the intended bill in any way infringed their constitutional right but they all objected the bill when they met Premier Nu in a special meeting.
Freedom of worship was safeguarded by the Constitution: Section 21.  The State shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious faith or belief.
Some Christian leaders expressed that though: Section 20. All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess and practice religion subject to public order, and morality or health and to the other provisions of this Chapter; which conferred upon them the right to practice their religion. But, the Constitution did not specifically mention the right to teach and that was what they wanted as a Constitutional guarantee.
The Section 17. There shall be liberty for the exercise of the following rights subject to law, public order and morality: -  The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions; -- should have been covered the concern of the Christian leaders. But, the Prime Minister agreed to have the right to teach their religion should be written into the Constitution.
The plan to introduce the amendment Bill subsequently leaked out and the Buddhist monks were agitated and demanded such amendment of the right to teach should not be made at the current parliamentary session but wait until the Inquiry Commissions report was submitted and reviewed. Premier Nu would not renege on his promise made to the Christian leaders. On the day the Bill was to be introduced the monks demonstrated against the Bill. Under police cordon the parliament was convened and the Prime Minister had to sneak in to get to the session as the throng of yellow robes encircled the Secretariat Building where the House of Representatives situated.
Muslim Cabinet Minister Mr. M. A. Raschid was allowed to object the bill without having to resign from the Cabinet, which is not a customary parliamentary procedure and practice; that is, if the minister could no longer support or act in line with the Prime Ministers policy, he or she resigns. So were the Christian, Muslim and Hindu Pyidaungzau Partys Members of Parliament were allowed to object the bill without having to resign.
A couple of days after the bill was passed Duwa Zau Lawn, a Kachin leader and former Head of State visited Premier Nu to invite to a Christian Conference in Myitkyeena, the capital of the Kachin State. Duwaji expressed his gratification for the amended bill. At the Conference the Christian leaders expressed their opinion that The State Religion issue had created serious misunderstanding which no amount of explanation could eliminate. But the amendment safeguarding the right to those of other religions to teach their respective religions had made for universal satisfaction; thus all doubts and resentments were once and for all cleared. Hence, Buddhism became the State Religion of Burma.
PEKING, PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA.
(1) With the exception of the area of Hpimaw, Gawlun and Kangfang, the entire undelimited boundary from the High Conical Peak to the Western extremity of the Burmese-Chinese boundary shall be delimited along the traditional customary line, that is to say, from the High Conical Peak northward along the watershed between the Taiping, the Shweli, the Nu (Salween) and the Tulung (Talon) Rivers on the one hand and the Nmai Nka River on the other, up to the place where it crosses the Tulung (Talon) River between Chingdam and Nhkumkang, and then along the watershed between the Tulung (Talon) and the Tsayul (Zayul) Rivers on the one hand and all the upper tributaries of the Irrawaddy River, except for the Tulung (Talon) River, on the other, up to the western extremity of the Burmese-Chinese boundary. The joint committee shall send out joint survey teams composed of an equal number of persons from each side to conduct surveys along the above mentioned watersheds so as to determine the specific alignment of this section of the boundary line and to set up boundary markers.
(2) The Burmese Government has agreed to return to China the area of Hpimaw, Gawlum and Kangfang which belongs to China. As to the extent of this area to be returned to China, it is to be discussed and determined by the joint committee in accordance with the proposals put forward and marked on maps by the Governments of Burma and China on February 4, 1957 and July 26, 1957, respectively. After determining the extent of this area to be returned to China, the joint committee shall send out joint survey teams composed of an equal number of persons from each side to conduct on-the-spot survey of the specific alignment of this section of the boundary line and to set up boundary markers.
(3) In order to abrogate the perpetual lease by Burma of the Meng-Mao triangular area (Namwan Assigned Tract) at the junction of the Namwan and the Shweli Rivers, which belongs to China, the Chinese Government has agreed to turn over this area to Burma to become part of the territory of the Union of Burma. In exchange the Burmese Government has agreed to turn over to China to become part of Chinese territory the areas under the jurisdiction of the Panhung and Panlao tribes, which are west of the boundary line from the junction of the Nam Ting and the Nampa Rivers to the No. 1 marker on the southcrn delimited section of the boundary as defined in the note exchanged between the Chinese and the British Governments on June 18, 1941. As to the extent of these areas to be turned over to China, the Chinese and the Burmese Governments put forward proposals marked on maps of July 26, 1957 and June 4, 1959, respectively. The area where the proposals of the two governments coincide will definitely be turned over to China. Where the proposals of the two Governments differ as to the area under the jurisdiction of the Panhung tribe, the joint committee will send out a team composed of an equal number of persons from each side to ascertain on the spot as to whether it is under the jurisdiction of the Panhung tribe, so as to determine whether it is to be turned over to China. After the extent of the areas under the jurisdiction of the Panlung and Panlao tribes to be turned over to China has been thus determined, the joint committee will send out joint survey teams composed of an equal number of persons from each side to conduct on-the-spot survey of the specific alignment of this section of the boundary line and to set up boundary markers.
(4) Except for the adjustment provided for in paragraph (3) of this Article, the section of the boundary from the junction of the Nam Ting and Nainpa Rivers to the No. 1 marker on the southern delimited section of the boundary shall be delimited as defined in the notes exchanged between the Chinese and British Governments on June 18, 1941. The joint committee shall send out joint survey teams composed of an equal number of persons from each side to carry out delimitation and demarcation along this section of the boundary line and set up boundary markers.
With overwhelming majority in the parliament Premier Nu felt beholden to redress the ethnic issues. During the independent struggle from the British, the ethnic leaders had supported fervently with esprit de corps of sink or swim together with the Burmese. At the Panglong Conference, the two leading Shan So Bwajis approached Premier Nu during the evening of the eve of the conference closing day and expressed that the Shan could not be part of the signatories as the suspicion on the Burmese was insurmountable. The three of them discussed amicably and inform Bogyoke Aung San what they had discussed.
After further deliberation, the Right of Secession was promised to include in the Union Constitution: Chapter 10 The Right of Secession: Section 201: Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Constitution or in any Act of Parliament made under section 199, [The Parliament may be an Act admit to the Union a new State upon such terms and conditions including the extent of representations of the State in the Parliament as may be specified in the Act.] every State shall have the right to secede from the Union in accordance with the conditions hereinafter prescribed.
And, Section 202: The right of secession shall not be exercise within ten years from the date on which this Constitution comes into operation.
The ethnic leaders had not exercised their Constitutional right even after ten years. They had worked hand in hand with the Central Government in nations building. But there were preponderant sentiment of equality among the States and the slogan being that: For every kyat the Burman gets, the Shan must get one kyat too [Bamar ti kyat Shan ti kyat].
After the 1960 general elections Premier Nu took up the issue by inviting the Head of States and requested to express any dissatisfaction they might feel over the annual budget grants. After hearing their complaint that the finance minister had been granting arbitrarily Premier Nu told them to draw up a scale and embody it in a system of future allocation so that everybody would be satisfied.
The States leaders drew the new system and presented to the Cabinet. Premier Nu promised them the new scheme would be adopted. When the time came to make the grant, calculations were made according to the new system and the results had made the Head of States appalled. Under the new scale as proposed, amounts equal to only two-thirds of the previous grants were payable to the Karen, Kayah, and Kachin with an exception of Shan, an increase of Kyat 500,000 was to be granted. The Head of States earnestly requested their proposed scheme be scrapped. A Cabinet decision was made that Shan should get Kyat 500,000 in addition and the rest of the States should get the larger grants as before.
With the mind setting in strengthening and solidifying the Union Premier Nu proposed to the Cabinet:
With Cabinet approval the four-point proposal was circulated to the state governments and their responses and the arrangements for the conference were placed in the hands of the Minister of Justice Dr. E Maung.
Through the military psychological warfare department as well as the MI that the ethnic leaders would rebel against the government if their demand of having Burma proper as one of the equal states amongst them at the Prime Ministers Conference on Constitutional Reform was denied.
Premier Nu had no intimation to believe such rumor. The reason being that at the height of the insurgency the ethnic leaders could have squeezed the government by the balls but they showed their true color by abiding the constitution and have fought against the insurgencies side by side with Premier Nu. As a matter of fact, it was the Burmese, not the ethnic, who winked at the insurgents when the writ of the government was confined only to Rangoon.
The Federal Principles
the ethnic leaders adopted at the Taung Gyi Conference, Shan
It was an adaptation of the constitution of the United States of America. If the ethnic leaders decided to exercise the Chapter 10 of the Constitution, which was the Right of Secession, there was no way Premier Nu or the parliament could disregard but had to put up and debate the issue through the parliamentary session. It was their constitutional right!
The Prime Ministers Conference on the Constitution Reform was commenced on March 1, 1962 evening at the Burma Broadcasting Station on Prome Road. The Prime Minister welcomed the delegates and many delegates had spoken. NUF representative Wudura Thakin Chit Maung made a very cogent argument why the Union should remain as it was. The conference adjourned around 9:00 PM. Deputy Prime Minister Sao Hkun Hkio and Minister Sao Wunna, Head of States of Shan and Kareni States respectively accompanied Prime Minister Nu to the Prime Ministers Office at No. 16 Windermere Park from the Conference.
Sao Hkun Hkio started
Within a few hours, on he early hours of March 2, 1962 Generl Ne Win usurped his position as the Chief of the Armed Forces made the coup detat that pulled the country down the tube.
With message sending out through walkie-talkie by a group of soldiers from Premier Nus private residence:
kaun mi. pji
The message was meant for the Prime Minister U Nu. The meaning of Lau kaun literally is maggot but it can also be interpreted as traitor. Weve got the maggot - that was what the message sent.
Brutus Ne Win had thus pulled a curtain down on a country where democracy was being nurtured and the national development was at the early stages of taking off. The country was on the road of no return since then until now. The prosperity of an emerging country was regrettably nipped in the bud. The President and the Chief Justice of the Union, the Prime Minister and the entire Cabinet, Shan national leaders were picked up and arrested just like chickens and birds.
[U Nu wrote the following letter from the prison]
TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY TO BURMA
1970 - 1973
As all venues were blocked to restore democracy U Nu staged a revolutionary movement by forming Parliamentary Democracy Party [PDP] and the Peoples Liberation Army [PLA] as its military arms. The different sizes of 99.999 % pure gold coins were minted and distributed to the PLA troops on their expeditions so that instead of making revolutionary requisition PLA could buy necessities from the people with the gold coins.
THAN THAN NUS WEDDING
DURING THE REVOLUTION
June 12, 1973.
Then there are the shirts, which in Burma are attachable-collar shirts but without the collar. Men of station wear the collar band buttoned at the neck; lesser figures, especially in government offices, wear it open. The air of collarless informality is misleading; the Burmese are meticulous. It is considered improper for a Westerner to visit a Burmese in shorts or a tropical shirt; the Burmese, colonial subjects of Britain until 1948, are sensitive about Westerners who appear to take them for granted. Yet the proper Burmese are remarkably free with their language: Burmese women will astonish Westerners with vivid, physical references to males they do not like; Prime Minister U Nu, a Buddhist layman of unusual piety, will casually refer to Communists as "Kwe-Ma-Tha," meaning "dog-bitch-sons."
Spirits & Stars. In Burma, land of Buddhist calm, no one is ever far from a remote and terrible world, a world of spirits and stars, a world of violence. It is only 69 years since Burma's last King, Thibaw, ordered 500 of his subjects and 100 foreigners to be buried alive at the gates of his palace, believing that their spirits would protect his soul. Only the timely arrival of the British Empire troops prevented the mass executions.
In modern Rangoon [pop. 700,000].
Burma's stately, rectilinear capital, the visitor may still come by night upon lanterns or candles at dangerous street intersections; they are placed there by superstitious Burmese to attract by night the spirits of those killed in street accidents. In Rangoon too, the well-bred gentleman at dinner has probably consulted an astrologer over the timing of his current business deal, or of the next union with his wife, should an heir be desired. Burma's bustling Socialist government employs a "Board of Astrologers" which similarly advises the nation upon the timing of significant events. The respected Daw Mya Yi [Madame Loving Emerald] recently set the date of her daughter's wedding after consultations with her personal astrologer; her husband, Prime Minister U Nu, did not object.
Burma, this faraway land of strange customs, has suddenly become newly important to Americans, a few thousand of whom have fought there, most of whom know it only remotely through a haze of symbols Terry and the Pirates, The Road to Mandalay, Errol Flynn striding triumphant down the Burma Road. By the light of the flames that roared up over Indo-China, the dark and distant land of Burma has become visible. Can Burma defend its 1,000-mile Red China frontier by itself? Can Burma be saved? Will it get help or accept it?
Freedom & Chaos. Burma is a land that has not known peace for twelve years. The Japanese and the British twice fought over it during World War II. Burma won its independence and plunged into chaos, headlong and unready. Since then, the Burmese have been fighting disciplined Communist armies and a motley crew of guerrillas and bandits. But recently there have been hopeful changes. In the cold war's continental context, they are small changes; yet relative to the crumble and despair of Southeast Asia, they are significant, even sweeping: Burma has just about defeated its Communist insurrection with no sizable help from the West.
Burma is launching an ambitious program of land reform, infant industrialization and social welfare once more, with no sizable help from the West. Burma is inspiring perhaps the most remarkable Buddhist revival in centuries, that is becoming in itself the focus of a new and powerful anti-Communism. Burma, in short, is pulling itself out of its chaos. In its small-power context, it is working its own counterrevolution, employing a trinity of arms, ideology and religion that might prove to be a workable Asian alternative to Communism. The man responsible for this show of hope in the land of spirits and stars is Burma's Prime Minister. U Nu.
Talent & Inspiration. U Nu, a little-known yet extraordinary man of 47, is coming into the headlines with his country. He is coming with reluctance and grave misgivings. "I am a dreamer, a writer," he says. "Framing rules and so on makes my head ache." U Nu once confessed to himself that he might some day become the Bernard Shaw of Burma, for he had "the talent and the inspiration." Instead, U Nu became Free Burma's first Prime Minister, and has remained so despite four attempts to resign for the past 6 years. U Nu is a devout Buddhist who once hesitated to kill a cobra for fear of transgressing the Buddhist precept: Thou shalt not kill ... All living creatures are subject to their destiny. U Nu, man of peace, has had to direct a pentagonal civil war. U Nu is a man of infinite modesty and quietness; he likes to drive out, on afternoons when he can get free, to a meditation house built on stilts, a tall man's height from the ground. U Nu must now meditate upon the fate of Indo-China, and he does not shrink from its implication: "Most of the countries of Southeast Asia are like this house," U Nu tells his visitors. "As the wind blows, they go to and fro like this." U Nu flaps his hands.
The Wolf of Man. U Nu is a man of rough and unfamiliar plainness. His head is round, his mouth seems rather large for his face, and his brown eyes fix visitors with peculiar intentness. His manner is sedate; his piety is apparent, and sincere. He betrays no concern that a Rangoon magazine is currently serializing a novel called Man the Wolf of Man [written in 1943] with a remarkable autobiographical preface by its author, U Nu. "In his native town," Author U Nu wrote of himself in the third person, "the nickname of Tate Sanetha, Saturday-born street Arab, was well known to everybody . . .* By the age of twelve he was a heavy drinker. Often as a sequel to his drinking bouts, his stupefied little body might be seen carried home on someone's shoulder. His father, deeply ashamed and hopeless of reclaiming him, could only banish him to live as he would in a paddy godown outside the town. The boy brewed his own liquor there." This way of life continued until "something deep down inside him suddenly changed ... A cool moonlight night, a verdant prospect, pretty women, sweet music began to move him profoundly. Whenever he was moved by beauty, he wanted to be alone with his joy." The picture of a Burmese society girl, ripped from a newspaper, was U Nu's talisman, inspiring him "to do good deeds, champion the weak, subdue the oppressors." At the University of Rangoon, where he graduated in philosophy, U Nu wrote sonnets, mostly to lampoon rival football teams, and read avidly Shaw, Shakespeare, Havelock Ellis, Karl Marx. Then he became a schoolteacher, wrote some plays with Freudian themes, and directed his sonnets at Mya Yi, the school board chairman's daughter, with whom he later eloped. Under the spell of a learned Rangoon editor named U Ba Cho, the young playwright got interested in both Buddhism and his country's fight for independence. The zealotry of his politics and religion astonished his friends.
How to Win Friends. The fight for freedom was a young man's fight: Burma's middle class and middle-aged were standing aside, and the University of Rangoon's young radicals could go far. U Nu re-entered the university as a graduate law student. One year later he was leading the celebrated Students' Strike of 1936, burning the Union Jack before Rangoon's colonial Law Courts. U Nu joined the intensely nationalist We Burmans Society, whose members defiantly called each other Thakin [or "master"], the word the British expected subservient Burmese to call the white man. U Nu became Thakin Nu. One of his schoolmates and fellow rebels was Thakin Than Tun, who now commands the Communist army in Burma; another Thakin runs the rival Trotskyite or Red Flag Communist army. U Nu drank deeply of Marx, but he mixed his drinks. During these turbulent 1930s, he translated into Burmese another book that had influenced him: Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. When World War II came, Burma's young Thakins offered to help the British if they would guarantee Burma's independence. The British coldly declined, so the Thakins supported the Japanese. The British later threw U Nu and his friends into jail for sedition.
In 1942 the Japanese invaded Burma, and the people, believing that the Japanese had come to liberate them, crowded out to greet the soldiers. "When the Japanese bombers came," said U Nu, "the people would not take cover. They tore their shirts, sang, danced, clapped their hands, shouted and turned somersaults as if they did not care a curse what happened." One day U Nu came upon a procession, led by monks, bearing gifts of rice, bananas and melons to the Japanese soldiers. Several hours later, U Nu met the same procession, limping home and disillusioned. "We expected the Japanese commander to be thankful," one of the marchers explained, "but all he did was to take his hand from his trousers pocket and give us a hard slap in the face." Thereupon, U Nu and the marchers, as Burmese often do in moments of desperation, spontaneously burst out laughing. The laughter did not last; the desperation did. In time, the Japanese gave Burma its first nominal all-Burmese government, with U Nu as Foreign Minister, but he wore, as he put it, a "Made-in-Japan stamp" on his forehead. In 1944 the disillusioned Burmese rose up against the Japanese as 250,000 Allied troops poured in through the jungles.
The Cabinet Is Dead. After liberation, Burma's course towards freedom ran swiftly in two confluent streams: the Thakins whipped up anti-British strikes against the returning colonial diehards; in London, the British nation was undergoing its historic change of heart. In 1946 Britain offered Burma self-government "either within or without the British Commonwealth."
"This Is Our Land!" At 4:20 a.m., Jan. 4, 1948 [the hour considered auspicious by the astrologers], Burma's six-starred flag arose in total independence from the British Empire. Only two other nations had so quit the Empire before: Eire and the 13 American Colonies. The British governor drove off through the crowded streets to H.M.S. Birmingham, and that night in Rangoon, the nation rejoiced; musicians beat ancient drums with sticks made from lions' bones, and surging, golden-skinned Burmese chanted their national anthem: Until the end of time This is our land! But once more, it seemed, Burma's stars were unfavorable. In the new republic's first year of freedom, no fewer than 40% of Burma's elected M.P.s and their supporters came out in armed revolt against Prime Minister U Nu. Trade, commerce and government revenues slumped; the civil service fell away, demoralized. In police HQ, Pegu Province, a weary superintendent checked his dossier: Of 21 stations in my district, I hold only six. The other 15 are held by five kinds of insurgents." In faraway London, Winston Churchill, then in opposition, rumbled: "Burma is descending into a state of anarchy, tempered by Communism." The chain reaction of disaster: Red Flag Trotskyites, 6,000 strong, rebelled first, in protest against even negotiating for independence with Prime Minister Attlee. Their leader: Thakin Soe, 48, onetime clerk in the Burma Oil Co. and jailmate of Prime Minister U Nu. White Flag Communists, 13,000, ordered into rebellion March 1948, in Moscow's first postwar campaign to undermine Southeast Asia. Burmese Army Deserters, 8,000 professionals, rebelled in July 1948, protesting U Nu's decision to fight the Communists, who had been the army's old comrades in the struggle for independence. Karen National Defense Organization, 12,000 militants among Burma's 2,000,000 predominantly Christian Karen people, rebelled in August 1948, demanding a separate Karen state on the Thailand border.
Chinese Nationalists, remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's beaten army, driven into Burma from Red China in 1949. "The outbreaks were dealt with as best we could," said U Nu. "Only after some time did we realize our mistakes." He first tried to win the Communists back into leftist unity by appeasement; he referred to them as "ignoramuses" in their deviation from the true Marxism, and drafted a 15-point plan calling for the propagation of "Marxist doctrine" [a plan he now very much regrets]. The Communist answer was characteristic: they gathered their forces, and struck when they were ready. "Give us three years," cried Communist Than Tun in 1948, "and Burma will be ours!" Prime Minister Nu, the Buddhist who would not kill the cobra, had a battle on his hands.
War & Sympathy. U Nu regrouped Burma's shaky 12,000-man combat force, its three-fighter air force, and stopped the Communists seven miles from Rangoon. In the spring of 1949, U Nu flew north in his flowing longyi and organized the recapture of Mandalay. In 1950 and 1951, Burma's army gained the decisive Irrawaddy Plain. In 1952 the Burmese edged the Chinese Nationalists behind the deep-cut Salween gorges. For a man of peace, U Nu had accomplished a reasonable military job. U Nu was determined from the start, however, that Burma's civil war must become something more than a conventional deployment of military force. He could not see it all yet, but in his mind lay the vague shape of a counterrevolution, many-sided, thorough. U Nu turned first to diplomacy. He eased the Karen rebellion by appointing Karen leaders to his Cabinet, by promising the Karens an autonomous state within the Union of Burma. He eased the Chinese Nationalist crisis through the U.N.; the U.S. recently flew out more than half of the Nationalists to Formosa, and the rest are considered leaderless and confinable. U Nu persistently offered the Communists their lives and a course in democracy if they would turn in their arms and surrender; 4,000 did.
Benevolent State. As the influence of his youthful government moved out towards Burma's wild green frontiers, U Nu put in more work on his counterrevolution. U Nu is a Socialist who sometimes talks like a Marxist [his closest ideological neighbors seem to be the Yugoslav Reds]. U Nu's constitution proclaims that the state is the ultimate owner of all land; in collective-minded Burma, no one will eventually own more than 50 acres, a two-bullock plot. U Nu's principal associates, Defense Minister U Ba Swe and Industries Minister U Kyaw Nyein both talk as if Burma must be led towards total nationalization of industry, total cooperative ownership and working of the land. This program of Socialization, with its concomitant welfare state [the Burmese call it Pyidawtha, or "Good Benevolent Welfare"], is already so popular that Burma appears to be heading towards a one-party Socialist state. There is neither basis nor demand for a conservative opposition, for "capitalism" is considered synonymous with "colonialism" and is therefore damned. U Ba Swe. the Socialist Party boss, freely recognizes the total predominance of Socialism, "but what is one to do?" Prime Minister U Nu is hard put to reassure skeptical Westerners: "If there is only one party, it is because the people prefer that party . . . There is no danger as long as that one party believes in democracy."
the Gun." U Nu will argue Marxism with Communists over a
pot of plain tea, but he will not let them undermine free Burma
with a gun. As Prime Minister, he goes to extraordinary lengths
to ensure that his people understand this, the difference he
considers vital. "For 2,000 years." he cried, "we
in Burma had the tradition that he who can kill a King becomes
a King . . . The conflict is not between government and rebels,
but a conflict between . . . the rights of the people and the
cult of the gun." He tells his people: "Beware of Pied
"Thadu, Thadu, Thadu." The unique factor of Burma's counterrevolution and the one that owes most to U Nu is its Buddhist revival. "Karl Marx had very limited knowledge." says U Nu, "which is not equivalent to one-tenth of a particle of dust beneath the feet of Lord Buddha." For more than 2,000 years, Buddhism has tended to unify Burma's different peoples; every Burmese village has its monastery, almost every hill its crowning pagoda, gold-leaf or whitewashed in the sun. "We will suffuse the whole world with loving thoughts," teaches Buddha the Guide, and the voices of authoritarians, like Mao Tse-tung, ring strangely in the Burmese consciousness. "We want to take the enemy's eyes and ears and seal them." cries Mao Tse-tung. "We want to throw them into utter confusion, driving them mad."
U Nu, son of a merchant who sold religious articles, brought sacred Buddhist relics back from Ceylon and sent them on a 20-city tour of Burma; he built a great Peace Pagoda seven miles from Rangoon, then spent $6,000,000 on two dozen more buildings, including a man-made cave, to accommodate the Sixth World Buddhist Council. He ordered department heads to dismiss civil servants 30 minutes ahead of time if they wished to meditate; he put his own Cabinet to work beside the laborers on pagoda construction. He remitted prison sentences of convicts who passed exams in Buddhism.
U Nu gets up each morning at 4 o'clock to meditate for a couple of hours. For a while he became a total vegetarian, but the effect of his denials grew so marked his eyes almost failed him last year that doctors persuaded him to take "a little fish." In 1950, then 43 and the father of five children, U Nu chose to enter the state of Bramachariya, or sexual abstinence, which is considered "extraordinary" in that Buddhism does not require such abstinence of its lay supporters. One day in Parliament, U Nu introduced a bill for the promotion of religion. Unanimously the M.P.s passed it; in unison they intoned. "Thadu, Thadu, Thadu," which amounted to a vote of confidence in U Nu's religious leadership. Thadu is the Burmese word for both "Amen" and "Well done."
Small-Power Success. Burma is still a land of violence, compounded now by some of the inevitable parasites of Socialism: graft, bureaucratic confusion, the arrogance of petty officials. Yet by its own measurable standards and in its own context, Burma is doing well. U Nu has dropped the prewar title, "Thakin." considering that the Burmese are now masters in their house [U means roughly "Respected Sir," or "Uncle"]. Burma's army, now grown to 60,000 men, appears to have the civil war in hand: the Trotskyites are through; the Communists, down to half-strength, have scattered into bands not 400 strong, and their leader Than Tun, is in flight; 22,000 rebels in all have surrendered. U Nu's Benevolent State is so popular that enterprising Burmese salesmen name good things after it [a cool, refreshing glass of "Benevolent" milk] and Rangoon buses proclaim their "Benevolent" destination. U Nu is starting slowly to redistribute 10 million acres of land, and he is paying the landlords dusty but democratic compensation one year's rent.
Another Burmese item of note: a contract has been let for a steel rolling mill. The future looks so bright to them from Rangoon that the country's young Socialists tell Westerners they are more worried about the sagging world price of riceBurma's principal source of revenue than about the civil war. But in the context of a small power like Burma, U Nu's achievements can be delusive. Red China has been occupied elsewhere. Through the 11th and 12th centuries, Burma's great empire at Pagan shone glamorously in its own context; in the 13th century, Tartary's Kublai Khan casually ordered it snuffed out. As casually as Kublai Khan, Red China's Liu Shao-chi recently marked counterrevolutionary Burma for conquest by renewed infiltration. Red China is already pulling Burma's Communist remnants back toward its border, to a "Yenan" redoubt where they can be reinforced and rearmed. Chou En-lai is pressing U Nu to sign a non-aggression pact that will help sanctify Red China's "Asia for the Asians" doctrine. Chou has invited U Nu to visit Peking, and last week U Nu accepted without saying when he could be free.
Big Power Concern. In the Pentagon's "big picture," Burma is an area of denial, something to be kept from the Communists if possible, but far from the fundamental strategic centers of power, e.g., the Urals, Manchuria; the Pentagon does not want to get bogged down there. The State Department would like to wheedle U Nu into an anti-Communist bloc - but U Nu shies instinctively from blocs. Like India's Nehru, he believes that blocs encourage war. Last year, U Nu cut off U.S. Point Four aid in token of his "non-alignment." During the Geneva Conference, U Nu learned further grounds for caution: 12 million neighboring Vietnamese were handed over to Communism; U.S. oratory did not save them. "It is criminal, unforgivable," complained Burma's U Kyaw Nyein, "that the super-power upon whom so much depends should be the amateur . . . the Soviet Union the professional." U Nu, long considered a docile member of the Nehru neutralist bloc, has recently developed an independence of his own. Though scrupulously determined not to be aligned, he once proclaimed: "Burma and America are in the same boat . . . We fight the same evils." And he recently gave this confident advice: "Western blood need not be shed countering aggression in this area. Just make the countries of Southeast Asia strong." But if Southeast Asia's rickety house on stilts should continue to lose its supports, and Burma is endangered, what then? Answers U Nu, a man of Buddhist peace: "We would fight."
*Nu is a Saturday name, meaning "soft" or "gentle." The name of a Burmese child usually begins with one of the letters deemed auspicious for the day upon which he was born (e.g., K or G for Monday, T, D or N for Saturday). There are rarely family names, if at all. The Burmese also believe that a child's personality is often determined by his birthday or by his demeanor at birth. "A man born on Monday will be jealous; on Tuesday, honest; on Wednesday, short-tempered but soon calm; on Thursday, mild; on Friday, talkative; on Saturday, hot-tempered and quarrelsome; on Sunday, parsimonious." *U Nu and 90% of the Burmese are Theravada Buddhists, accepting Buddhism as a way of life, not as a theocratic doctrine: they have no church, no God in the Western sense. U Nu is tolerant and approving of other "true" religions, e.g., Christianity. He insisted upon paying the expenses of Roman Catholic priests on a recent pilgrimage to Rome; his troops gave the Anglican Bishop of Rangoon, the Right Rev. George West, and a safe-conduct across the lines into the rebel Karen districts so that he could administer Communion to the villagers.
Edward Hunter, author of Brain-Washing in Red China and Brainwashing: The Story of the Man Who Defied It writes in his long biographical introduction on a play written by Premier Nu The People Win Through [Lu-du Aun Than]: U Nu baffles people who try to label others. He does not fit into any one, neat compartment. Is he a politician, or an author? Is he a lawyer or a priest? Is he a radical or a conservative? Is he a Westernized Burmese or a stubborn proponent of old Burmese traditions? Without much difficulty, a good case could be made for any of these labels. Indeed, each is more or less correct. U Nu is a man of tones and blending colors, not of any single, solid hue white, pink, red or what you will. This is part of character.
Mr. Hunter added:
I showed U Nus photograph to a mature American
who had spent many years in the Orient. After studying the picture
for a minute, he hedged by saying, Hes an Asian,
and you know how they mask their feelings. This was a superficial
impression, but U Nus wartime career indicates that there
is much truth in it; I doubt if the Japanese would deny it.
Another interesting observation of Edward Hunter was that: In the industrialized West, where specialization has reached exaggerated heights, we have lost some of the wholesome traits of a less modernized society. These are what U Nu has retained. They are what he is aiming at in his neutrality policy. He is trying to be practical and opportunistic, so as to achieve a harmony between his peoples languorous past and the requirements of the precise Twentieth Century. He is trying to use the lushness of Burmese nature and character to modify the cold harshness of the industrial age. Such an idyllic formula would be a modern miracle. So the frustrations and the groping continue in U Nus lovely land of Burma and in the minds of his volative, simple-hearted people. U Nu cannot be understood apart from his people; he is intimately related to every phase of their past half-century of humiliation, turmoil, exploitation and bedevilment.
As is seemingly appropriate to add the Preface written by U Thant: The People Win Through shows what actually happens when Burmese Communists decide to stage an insurrection. On June 18, 1950, a meeting took place at the house of Prime Minister U Nu. U Thein Han [Zawgi], U Nya Na, U Myo Mih, Saya Hein and I discussed with U Nu the advisability of writing a play depicting the evils of attempting to wrest political power by means of force. After a lengthy discussion covering over three hours, it was decided that U Nya Na should write a play with the following themes:
HERE is another review made by an academician, Professor Joseph A. Withey, Asian Studies, Hanover College, Hanover, Indiana on Premier Nu: U Nu As Dramatist and was published in August 1980 in the South East Asian Review, Vol. V, No. 1:
Professor Withey studied Premier Nu basically from the point of view of a playwrite and tried his best to review as well as introduce U Nus style of writing to the general readers. Professor Witheys article is full of in-depth reviews both from political as well as social angles. For the benefit of the literary interest the whole piece without any editing is presented:
U NU, born on Saturday, May 25, 1907 -- a time corresponding to the full moon of Nayon in the year 1269 of the Burmese calendar -- refers to himself as "Tartay" or "Saturday's Son" in his autobiography. According to Burmese belief, he writes, "a first child born on such a day stirs up woe like fire," and "if the first to arrive is a Saturday-born, the father must carry a sword and cross back and forth over the child seven times to ward off evil." Nu's father, San Tun, did indeed follow this ritual, but, even so, Nu has succeeded in stirring up some tempests in his lifetime as politician, social critic and playwright.
However, The People Win Through and The Wages of Sin, Nu's English language plays and the principal concern of this study, aimed not at unsettling Burmese society but at restoring it to a satisfactory equilibrium. More, they demonstrate a sensitivity to the flow of ideas from the West, ideas associated primarily with democracy and socialism, though the The Wages of Sin one clearly sees the influence of the Eastern ethic of Buddhism. Both plays, in fact, seek to solve political problems of a newly independent country by the application of ideas current in the society at the time of their writing.
Nu thought of his plays as representing the national structure of Burmese society, and intended them to affect this structure rather than simply reflect it. He spoke of the writer who "is capable of causing the welfare of his readers," of "serving as guide to the people," of providing "guidance and shelter". "Forces influencing the lives and thoughts of the people," he wrote, "are instrumental in the development of culture and the creation of the people's welfare." He thought of literature as one of these forces. He spoke of "building a new pattern of culture" which would include "cultivators, workers, government servants, police personnel, armed forces, technicians, teachers, and traders," an inexhaustible source from which the writer could draw his materials. Revealing to the people the part they can play in this new culture would contribute to the enlightened progress of Burmese society was his belief.
The West has had its didactic literature, but in general the modern writer has concerned himself more with characterization than with message, finding his principal problem the form by means of which he will reveal the character. After the Second World War, in countries concerned with building a nation, however, writers often took a political stance, thinking of themselves as polemicists rather than literary artists. In doing so most continued in the literary tradition of their countries, for that tradition was usually didactic, either in a religious or an ethical sense. True, some writers have written primarily for themselves or for an international audience, many of the latter using English rather than their native language as the medium of expression. Even these writers, however, have had to determine the locus of their concern -- regional, national, or universal. U Nu's testimony as a writer, taken together with his plays, provide evidence of his intent to shape the national culture of Burma by showing its political problems in dramatic form.
In 1927, while a student at Rangoon University, Nu encountered a professor who advised him to read the plays of Bernard Shaw. Particularly fascinated by the wit and social criticism abundantly displayed in Candida and Caesar and Cleopatra he found these plays to be "eyeopeners". Satisfied formerly with writing playlets and verses, he now discovered a social dialectic congenial to his taste, which prompted him to concentrate on play-writing, sometimes at the expense of his studies. Nu related that a fortnight before his examinations "his friend U Khin Zaw, thinking he was cramming, entered his room" only to discover him working on a play. "You'll fail because of this", Khin Zaw cautioned, but Nu kept to his task.
During vacations he continued writing, seeking seclusion by building a hut on the outskirts of his home town. Often his mother would visit to complain of the danger to his health. Eventually he completed a long play and submitted it in competition for the Prince of Wales prize, an award offered by the government in commemoration of the visit of Edward, then Prince of Wales. This was the highest literary award then available in Burma, carrying with it not only prestige but cash in the amount of a thousand rupees. Nu's entry did not win, and he was so upset that he "charged the selection board with jobbery."
During this period of youthful enthusiasm playwriting was to Nu a necessary form of self-expression, rather than the calculated attempt to reform society it later became. If for some reason he had to forego writing, he became depressed, even ill, "but the moment he started to write the distemper would leave him, the tautness disappeared, and he would be filled with a sense of well being." Looking back on the playwriting mania of his student days Nu acknowledges "the plays were not good ones." He finds them lacking in action, unable to sustain interest, and "as wearisome as an exchange of views." Doubt as to his ability to employ the Shaw model of intellectual point-counterpoint entered his mind, and, after a series of rejection slips, he read other plays which convinced him his work lacked the necessary qualities of acceptance.
Following a ten year hiatus in creative writing, ending with the Rangoon University student strike of 1936, it was a thoroughly politicized U Nu who went to work for The Deedok Journal, writing articles and short plays in Burmese. Nu's political concerns are reflected in these plays summarized by Richard Butwell. One of them, Thuraka, 'an Orwellian piece in which the leaders of a community of pigs basely ally themselves with a predatory tiger" symbolized the alliance of his political foes with the British. Another, Converting The Elder Brother, takes aim at adulterous Burmese politicians, posing the question, "If a man cannot be trusted with another man's wife, how can he be entrusted with the affairs of the Nation?" In a recent letter to this writer Nu explained that the one-act plays he contributed to The Deedok Journal were collected and published in 1938 under the title Khit-Hme-Pyazat. Shortly after, at the outbreak of the Second World War, Nu found himself jailed at Insein, then transferred to Mandalay, where he continued to write, though these plays have been lost.
At war's end, when Nu became Prime Minister of the Union of Burma after the assassination of Aung San, his most urgent problem was to effect a political union in fact as well as in name. In pursuit of this goal he launched in 1950-51 a drive "From Peace to Stability," touring the delta and speaking to the people. Among his speeches at this time is one delivered on the occasion of the awarding of the Sa-pay-beik-mun prize for the best Burmese novel. In it he described the writer as contributing to a cultural renaissance of a certain kind, in which he "effectively deals with the problems of human life," to produce an authentic work of art. "Such novels," he went on, "reflect the real condition of one's own society, and they help us to know our own selves, our own strength and our own weakness, and we get an opportunity to ponder over our own problems."
In an Introduction to Nu's play The People Win Through the late U Thant tells how Nu applied his expertise in playwriting to the solution of one of these problems, that of armed insurrection. In June of 1950 several of Nu's associates met with him to discuss the possibility of writing a play which would communicate to the people "the evils of attempting to wrest political power by means of force." At first the group decided U Nya Na should write the play, and that it should be a three act play with acts one and two devoted to events in the past where force produced unfortunate consequences, while the third act would show the Communist use of force equally deplorable. However, when the group met again two months later, they agreed it was more feasible to concentrate on the single theme of act three, and Nu was persuaded to do the writing himself. In September, according to Thant, Nu completed the play, it was approved by the necessary government agencies, and then passed on to the Society for the Extension of Democratic Ideals for publication. Among those who checked the final manuscript were J. S. Furnivall and Peter Murray, while U Khin Zaw undertook the task of translation into English.
Its episodic structure being well-suited to the medium The People Win Through was made into a Burmese film, then staged by the Pasadena Playhouse in the United States in October 1951, and finally published in English in Rangoon in 1952. Taplinger brought out an American edition in 1957 with an Introduction by Edward Hunter replacing Thant's. Testimony from those who viewed the film in Burma at the time suggests a generally favourable reception by Burmese audiences. More specific reaction comes from the Playhouse premiere, where the Pasadena Star News reviewer thought the play "a stimulus to patriot emotions, a challenge to the mind and delight to the eye," expressing the conviction that it "should be seen by every American who can squeeze in the theatre in the next three weeks. It will bring a better understanding of the people of Asia." In his comments on Nu's playwriting the same reviewer refers to the play's "dignity, coherence and suspense" and concludes that The People Win Through "puts over the high aims of proper self-government." In his Introduction for the Rangoon edition U Thant had noted that "writers like T. S. Eliot and Maurice Collis were equally impressed with the narrative of the play." In the context of the times spokesmen for the West praised both the staged and published versions of the English translation.
We have discussed Nu's general goal as a writer; now we can examine his specific intent in writing The People Win Through, and the means he employs. In a Prologue to be spoken before the dramatic action being Nu writes:
Our Union of Burma is standing at cross-roads. One way leads to the seizing of power by force. The other leads to the willing delegation of power by the people to their representatives elected by fair democratic methods. This evil (taking power by force) is now rearing its ugly head in Burma. If this wickedness . takes hold of our fair country, it will reduce her to a state of abject misery and subjection to tyranny that would beggar description. So we have staged this play, which I hope, will help you decide which way to choose.
In the final sentence Nu not only expresses his intent but also predicts the form of the play -- argument or debate, followed by fictional evidence clothed as dramatic action. A summary of the dramatic action will clarify Nu's use of the medium to achieve his end.
Scene 1 introduces the central character, Aung Win, depicted as a family man with communist convictions. He argues with a friend about the political necessity of insurrection. The setting is his home.
Scene 2 takes place in the communist headquarters of a village in Pegu district. The scene contrasts the treatment of villagers by communist and government forces.
Scene 3 is in the headman's house of the same village. The insurrection has begun, with Aung Win participating as a cadre. A villager sympathetic to the government is executed over Aung Win's objections.
In Scene 4 we see a bunker on the outskirts of a village. Members of a White Band PVO force -- opposed to both the communists and the government -- discuss corruption among the communists and in their own forces.
Scene 5 takes place in a country lane filled with village refugees. They encounter volunteers who support the government and also a group of insurgents.
Scene 6 shows a communist People's Court in a village. The accused are not permitted to defend themselves. All are convicted.
Scene 7 is set
in a village home. Several characters who have suffered ill treatment
in previous scenes have organized a patriotic guerrilla force.
One of them gives his life so the others may escape a communist
The final scene
takes place in Communist party divisional headquarters, where
we see Aung Win again, but now disillusioned about communist
methods. When he protests these practices, he is shot and killed
by one of his own men.
Nu alternates scenes between those focused upon the speech and actions of the villagers and those focused upon the insurrectionists. Such an arrangement provides an overall contrast and a rhythm for the play, a form of epic structure suggested to Nu by his reading of Noel Coward's CAVALCADE. Also, since even those Burmese who live in cities have strong village ties, this structure enables the urban audience to identify with familiar figures as opposed to the Communist cadres and soldiers, who are shown in a milieu of political and military isolation from the villagers and their concerns.
Though Aung Win is the most important and most memorable character in the play because of his at first idealistic then disillusioned attitudes toward communism, he appears only in four scenes of the eight -- Scenes 1, 2, 3, and 8. In Western drama we generally see one or two characters prominent throughout the play, but, since similar character focus is common in the traditional Burmese zat pwe, we cannot attribute the lack of continuous focus on Aung Win to an East-West difference in playwriting technique. Nu needed two young intellectuals in the opening scene to argue the Government vs the Communist positions. In scene 2 he reveals Aung Win as a convinced Communist insurgent proselytizing among the villagers with the assistance of a Red platoon. In Scene 3 Nu plants doubt in the mind of Aung Win. The scenes intervening between 3 and 8 show the kinds of experiences of which he would be aware, without the need for his presence, and the concluding scene shows his final disillusionment and death. To focus on Aung Win throughout the play would prevent the audience from identifying so strongly with the plight of the simple villagers. In other words, the argument introduced in Scene 1 is continued by means of illustration, a dialectic in dramatic action of which Bernard Shaw could have approved. Early influences in Nu's playwriting persist in The People Win Through.
The Wages of Sin, completed by Nu in 1959, first appeared in English in the Burmese newspaper, The Nation, in 1961. Published later in the year by U Law Yone, editor of The Nation, as a playscript, in which Nu acknowledges assistance in translation by U Myo Min and U Thein Han, the play had its premiere in the United States at the East Carolina Playhouse in Greenville, North Carolina, in February of 1962. Prior to the production Time magazine assessed Nu's work as "still pounding away at the same theme (as in The People Win Through): the evil of communism and how to combat it." Time wrote: "As a statesman neutralist U Nu has sometimes professed to see little difference between the Communist powers and the West. But as a dramatist he is as forthright a champion of democracy as any democrat could wish."
In a review of
the production the Raleigh, North Carolina News and Observer
And later in the review:
U Nu's chief character -- and the only fully developed role in the play -- Home Minister U Po Lone, is represented as the type of government official who endangers his country by breaking the moral law. Guilty of bribery, gambling, drunkenness, and seduction of women, he not only estranges his wife and son but comes dangerously near to effecting the ruin of his party and the government. Somewhat of an old-fashioned melodrama in its technique, the play nonetheless is an effective instrument in pointing up the grave stresses in the East and in revealing how the communists extend their influence, particularly over youth.
Unlike The People Win Through this play employs a conventional Western structure of three acts in which the focus remains on the central character of Po Lone, the Home Minister, throughout. Act I opens in the living room of a house in Rangoon used as a private hideaway by Po Lone. There we see him drinking in company with his prostitute-mistress, mixing with dissolute hangers-on, and engaging in telephone conversations that illustrate his corrupt politics. Po Lone's wife discovers him in this situation, they have a row, and neighbours protest by throwing old shoes and other refuse through the windows of the room. In this act Nu depicted Po Lone as a betrayer of the trust his high office demands.
In Act II the
audience sees the front room of a house in suburban Rangoon,
occupied by the communist organizer for the area, San Lin. Part
of the room is arranged as a classroom for the instruction of
young communist sympathizers, who acknowledge San Lin as their
teacher. Here Nu demonstrates how San Lin is willing to use any
means, including seduction and murder, to accomplish his ends.
Part way through the act, after the cadets enter for their instruction,
the young men and women salute photos of Marx, Lenin and Stalin,
and sing the Internationale. Among them is Po Thoung, the son
of Po Lone, who has turned to communism because of his father's
corruptness. Po Lone and his wife enter to persuade the young
man to return home, there is a confrontation, and Po Thoung denounces
his father. In this act Nu generates considerable interest by
showing San Lin's methods in dealing with and converting young
people, and by involving father and son in an effective climax.
By the end of Act II the audience realizes there is little to
choose between the corrupt politician and the unscrupulous communist
As the reviewer wrote, this is a morality play in the sense that the playwright tells us democracy will work no better than communism unless there are leaders of virtue. In his foreword to the playscript Nu writes:
Parliamentary democracy cannot endure, and must sooner or later perish in a country where those entrusted with its governance are:
However, in another sense, a more profound sense The Wages of Sin is a play written by a leader of his country who was also a Buddhist. In response to a question by the writer Nu wrote of his convictions concerning the relationship of democratic-socialism and Buddhism as it affected his plays. He felt the leaders of the people must take vows (Sila) to abstain from such improprieties as those listed, vows which are among those prescribed for a Buddhist, though also accepted by the Christian, the Hindu, and the Moslem. These vows help men become noble men. Further, he advocated meditation upon death (Asubha bhavana) and its inevitability as a way of combating covetousness and ill will. Thirdly, since these two ways to nobility of thought and action may be ineffective, the leader must uproot the cause that give rise to those defects which threaten him (Panna). He must become a Buddhist Sotapanna who uproots his false views, false perceptions, and false beliefs, and who removes all doubts as to their falsehood. For Nu these three instruments were, and I assume from his statement, still are the Buddhist ways to becoming a noble leader. He believed the noble path of Buddhism must be followed in order to reach the noble goal of democratic-socialism.
Nu wrote The Wages of Sin to correspond to his vision of the Burmese reality in 1959. His judgments and the intensity with which he supported them came partly from Buddhist and partly from democratic-socialist convictions. These convictions coloured the creative effort of Nu as he drew his materials from the world in which he lived by a process of selection and arrangement. In drama this creative process is applied to dramatic actions which illustrate and explain the playwright's vision. He draws his choices from his thought and experience as conditioned by his time and place. In The Wages of Sin Nu's insistence that ethical imperatives must prevail in national politics was consistent with his place in history.
We can appreciate Nu's concern for socially relevant values in the Burmese context of the time. Dramatic literature has always had much to do with social justice, democracy and human welfare. Moreover, with reference to Nu's intent, considered earlier, we can conclude from our examination of his thoughts as a writer and from our review of his major plays that he, like writers in other developing countries, felt strongly the responsibility to not only reflect the historical experience of his nation but to influence it in the interests of his people.
A HARD LOOK AT MR. TENDER
The Nation, Rangoon, March 2, 1957.
The most publicized man in Burma today is U Nu. His name literally means, Soft, tender or green, all of which belie his character. He once told Thakin Soe, You be the Lenin of Burma, and Ill be your Maxim Gorki. But U Nu has since shown himself to be more adept at politics than he ever was at play writing. The gentle dreamer who abhorred guns and could not kill a snake has developed into a fighter who revels in the rough game of politics. He will never be a Stalin, but there is a good deal of granite in his make-up. There is no particular triumph in his return to the Premiership today. He never really quit.
U Nu is 50 years old, and looks about ten years younger. But I have seen him gaunt and unhappy. Then lie looks his age. The rest of the time he tries to keep his weight down [about 155 lbs.] and to present a brave exterior. His features are regular, his hands well shaped and his fingers well kept, and a smile sits naturally on his moon face. But he worries. When he worries lie gets sick, and the sickness gets him in the stomach.
The secret of U Nus success is his keen sense of observation; that, and an almost uncanny intuition. The most grievous mistake that anyone can make is to think that he is a simple character. There is more complexity in his little finger than in the entire physiology of most people. In him naivete and shrewdness are so unevenly blended that one never knows which will be uppermost at any given moment. I am constantly amazed by his instant grasp of complicated matters and his inability to take in commonplace situations.
U Nu is
an easy person to talk to. He leads one along, keeps the conversation
going smoothly, and contributes in an anecdotal way. When one
comes away from a visit with U Nu, one has the distinct feeling
of having talked too much. On his part, U Nu says much about
the past, little about the present and nothing at all about his
future plans. And he does all this without appearing cagey. In
point of fact, most people get the impression that he is an unusually
frank and uninhibited person. This is because they fail to recognize
what a subtle individual he is.
in a leader is a dangerous weakness and leaves him open to the
sycophants who always surround powerful men.
Another time he spoke sharply to me for criticizing everything. You can afford to tickle us withyour pen, he said, you dont have to do anything. Mr. Prime Minister, thats one of the privileges of my profession. Through the years, I think he has come to appreciate this fact. He must also learn that it is not sufficient for him to be convinced that what he is doing is right. It must appear so to others. In the very first chapter of How to Win Friends and Influence People, which he has translated, there occurs the story of the man who killed at a bank robbery, then killed an innocent policeman, and several others, before he was taken. Just before he died, he scribbled, I am a kind man.
U Nu is often dubbed the leader of the mob, rather than of a party. That is not true. No party is going to retain a leader it can dispense with without loss to itself. The day he ceases to be useful to the party, it will have no compunction about jettisoning him. His ability to draw the crowd, his homespun tales, his salt-of-the-earth phraseology, are, of course, distinct assets, but over and above these is a warm personality and an intuitive short-cut to decision. When he went to China, I felt more or less certain he would come back a cropper. He came back with the Package Deal a measure which could not be called a great feat of diplomacy, but which certainly confounded his critics. Another man would have been better prepared to wrangle with the Chinese, but could hardly have got off as lightly.
U Nu has always prided himself on his ability to write books and plays. I am sure he could earn a comfortable living by writing, but I am afraid he would never be happy if he divorced himself from polities. It has got into his blood, until now he would be warped and frustrated if he tried to drain it out. Even his religion is mixed with politics. When he rises early to be at his devotions, the man is entirely sincere. His religion gives him great solace. But there have to be outward shows and manifestations to incite the people to take theirreligion seriously. So also, with honesty. He feels that it is not enough that he should be above bribery. It has to be proved, hence he makes a fetish of turning over the smallest gift to the nation. I think it is childish, but then I am not as fanatical as he in trying to make every minister into a Caesars wife, beyond reproach.
I have talked with several of U Nus inner circle and the consensus of opinion is strikingly like what Alanbrooke said of Churchill, --- He has an unfortunate trick of picking up some isolated operation, and without ever really having it looked into, setting his heart upon it. When he once gets into these moods he feels everybody is trying to thwart him and to produce difficulties --- Perhaps the most remarkable failing of his is that he can never see a whole strategical problem at once. His gaze always settles on some definite part of the canvas and the rest of the picture is lost. Because of this failing, U Nu has often pulled a boner, which is not surprising, but he has the knack of recovering his stance, which astonishes his enemies as well as his friends.
U Nu is first and last a popular leader. He is disqualified for the details of administration. That is where the weakness of his government is most apparent. From morning till night, he wears out his secretaries with notes and memoranda, but such is the system in Burma that few of his ideas get translated into action. And it is quite useless to prod him to fire a subordinate. A Burman judge shrinks at whipping a prisoner. U Nu, the Burman Prime Minister, is congenitally incapable of sacking a man for incompetence. Perhaps there is a reason for this, but short of doing a psychograph I cannot discover it. It may be that knowing himself to be a dreamer and a visionary, he feels he cannot be too hard on a subordinate for being unpractical. Before he eloped with his wife, U Nu planned the whole operation, then stood her up because he could not find the motor boat!
But while he cannot hurt individuals, U Nu can fire whole outfits. He very nearly sacked the whole of the SAMB; he got rid of ECA at one fell swoop, and, at one time, after he had agreed to accept six million pounds from the Commonwealth, he bundled the Ambassadors out of his house. These things would have been avoided if the people concerned knew his real character. He hides his mounting irritation until the moment arrives when he erupts. That is why one has to be extremely careful in dealing with him. One may put up ones feet in his presence, slap him on the back and address him as old boy and he will stand it as long as he thinks one is not deliberately offensive, but the moment one tries to patronise him or offer a calculated insult, he reacts violently.
Somebody who knows U Nu well once told me, Dont get friendly with U Nu. Youll get nothing out of it except being dragged to the Indian movies. That is not altogether unsound advice. When U Nu goes to see a film he goes to be entertained. Weird phantasies suit him best because in that way the man of imagination tries to break away from the life of practical politics. He is a greater Walter Mitty than any man I know. Burma is his stage. The play that is being put on is his play, arid he is acting the main part. It is complicated enough to shatter the nerves of most living persons. He can hardly be expected to relax with more social problems at the cinema.
Perhaps it is because his mind is so busy that his bodily needs are so few. With such big gaps in education and knowledge, he nevertheless has an accumulation of facts and quotations so neatly pigeon-holed in the recesses of his memory, that he is able to bedeck his speeches with aphorisms wherever he goes. And all the time he is observing and adding to his storehouse, his alert mind separating the weighty from the trivial. He seems to gain a little from each person he associates with, whoever he may be. But while sophisticated in his thinking, he is not so in his personal habits. He eats at 9 and again at 5. Not for him is the utterly un-Burman institution called lunch. Most times he eats whatever is placed before him, but let him be upset and he complains like a child. Cleanliness is, to him, next to godliness. I dont mind if my daughter marries a beggar, he said recently, but he should be a clean beggar. He is, of course, a great health faddist and swallows vitamin tablets with every meal. He can stand the cold but shuns the draught like the very devil.
Who are U Nus friends? We can parade in our minds eye a succession of ministers, religious leaders, politicians, businessmen and clowns. Now and again we hear of someone who is extra thick with him, but never lasts. The fact of the matter is that U Nu is a self-reliant person with a great sense of destiny. In his career, there are no Grey Eminences, no permanent court jesters. Perhaps the only exception is U Thant, and U Thant never talks about him, not because he does not know or because it would take too long. To all questioners, U Thant answers with one word, mercurial, and that is a very apt description. I am not sure that this singular lack of attachment on U Nus part is not a virtue. When I recently told U Nu that U Thant was down with overwork, the reply I got was typical, Its a miracle he didnt go down last year or the year before that. It was not a callous remark, but coming from U Nu the best tribute he could pay to a loyal friend. U Thant, too, knows how to speak his language.
What keeps you so busy these days, Ko Thant? U Nu once asked. You, was the unhesitating retort.
When it comes to strangers, however, U Nu can turn on the charm. He is such a believer in the personal contact approach to problems and so alive to the possibilities of human relationships, that people who have watched him operate have been known to reply, Did he translate Dale Carnegie, or did Dale Carnegie translate him?
I can best illustrate his uncanny habit of doing the right thing at the right time by an incident during his American tour. At that time the Majority Leader in the Senate was William Knowland, a man whom U Nu had deliberately snubbed in Burma because at the time Knowland came to Rangoon, the KMT incident was rankling in U Nus breast. But, when invited to address the American Congress, U Nu was received and introduced by Knowland as though he were a long lost friend. This disturbed U Nu afterwards, and he wrote a letter of apology for the cavalier treatment accorded him in Burma. When, later, U Nu dropped a brick over the admission of China into the UN issue, we thought, Now for the Knowland blast. It never came and now we know the reason why.
This innate sense of fairness, and even humility, is what sets U Nu apart. The apology to Mr. Sloss, the great goodwill shown to Sir Archibald Cochrane (the Governor I used to abuse whenever I had nothing better to do), the admission to Bo Tun Sein, (I am sorry I have not taken my parliamentary duties more seriously,) and the ability to say to anybody, I have been a fool, I apologise, are the best insurance against U Nu ever turning out to be a dictator.
AT THE INVITATION OF U NE WIN
She was a kun: daun kain [village belle] so to speak of Pantanaw. Her parents were rich Country Gentry, proprietor of a Rice Mill, land owner of over 3,000 acres of paddy fields, and the owner of a high school. Her father worried that his young daughter Shwe Mya Yi would meet someone if she continued her schooling and therefore she was plucked out of the school after she completed her Six Standards.
She met Ko Nu, a head master of her parents high school, a different cut, and a different mold, which had enticed her quite well. With apparent disapproval, they eloped. Daw Mya Yi followed her husband everywhere, down and out or up and about, she would march side by side with her husband Ko Nu.
Ko Nu wrote plays and novels but he was not able to bring back any royalty home because some one needed it or asked for it or the royalty was never paid. Of course, she did complain but never protested. When Ko Nu got back to Rangoon, the two set up their little abode. She prepared breakfast - fried rice, and coffee for about ten people every morning. The regulars were Thakins Soe, Ba Thein Tin, Aung San; and, Hla Pe [Bo Let Ya], Nyo Tun and Thi Han were ever present houseguests, the trio stayed with Thakin Nu and Daw Mya Yi. Less frequent visitor was Kyaw Nyein. Lunch was prepared in the same manner, and those regulars would help themselves and left, doing things what they had to do in their affairs of politicking.
After the money she brought had exhausted, she returned to her parents to dig some more from her Grandmas coffer and to gather some of her gold ornaments to sell off when needed. During her absent, Nu and Hla Pe, being sick of eating Baja gjo [fritter made of split yellow peas] day in and day out they fried fish. Fire caught in the pan and they fearfully lifted up the pan. The oil flew all over. The roof almost caught fire. Afterwards, they gave up cooking and back to the good old Baja gjo.
She had to put up with Thakin Soes intolerable habit, such as, feeding up all for him. If no one noticed, Thakin Soe would leave none for the rest. No matter how seriously she scolded, Thakin Soe never changed or heeded and kept eating the whole bunch of bananas or a pan full of friend rice or a pot of coffee many a time.
She had to put up with Thakin Aung Sans idiosyncrasies. At one time she caught Aung San, making faces to the mirror in her room. She asked what was he doing and he replied with a question why was this mirror standing in front of me? At another time she found pile of shit on the wooden plank on the side, which was to step on and squat. Later, she discovered it was Aung San who did it. She asked why he did not do it in a regular way, the replied was I am testing a new side way. Every morning, after breakfast, Aung San asked for Ta Moo [two annas] from her; Ta Bai or one anna for two cigarettes and one anna for a lan cha: [rickshaw]. He would not walk to the Dho Bama Asiayone, which was within a walking distance, where other walked, but for Aung San, it was only by lan cha:. At times it was two rupees, because Aung San would not want to miss the movies.
Burma Freedom Block
[BFB] was formed to further the struggle for independence with
Dr. Ba Maw as the President and Thakin Aung San as the General
Secretary. This group was basically an amalgamation of Dho
Bama Asiayone and Sinyetha Party with a few smaller
political parties. The students union leaders
were in support of the national united front of BFB in secrecy.
BFB made strong demand on the British Government to turn
over all power and authority in the country to its elected Government.
BFB movements outstanding leaders were Dr. Ba Maw, Thakins
Nu, Aung San, Mya, Hla Pe and Than Tun. On June 9, 1940 the BFB
made an open challenge forbidding the Burmese to support
the war effort [of the British] with either manpower or material.
Nu was kept at the Central Jail [Rangoon Jail]. Daw Mya Yi went to see him through htaun win za khan [asked permission to see a prisoner]. She was ushered into the Wardens office.
The Warden greeted her and pressured her to persuade her husband to quit politics with the promise that if she succeeded he would allow her to take her husband home.
When Thakin Nu, B Class political prisoner was brought out, the Warden kept talking to Nu to quit politics. There was not a chance for her to talk with her husband. Within a minute or two, she grabbed hold of her husbands shoulders and turned him around and screamed: I am here to talk with my husband, stop talking to him; I need to talk to my husband was the command she screamed out.
That was the first htaun win za. She brought along Htike, wrapped up in hpajaun: pahsou [linoleum cerecloth], who was only four months old. That was the first time Nu had seen his son. When he was apprehended Htike was about a month shy of being born.
She visited the central jail next time but she was not allowed to see Nu. There was only htaun hmu [Jailer], an Anglo-Indian fellow by the name of Rosalie and two ba ja [it is a prison jargon, meaning: inmate appointed as orderly to prison officials] came to the door. From inside they opened a small window with a tiger head knob and read out a letter from Nu saying he would be taking Sabbath, would have only vegetarian meal and a short list of his requirements. The Jailer refused to give the letter to her.
That was not acceptable to her. She pounced through the small window and snatched the letter. She got the letter. Rosalie and two ba ja came out, grabbed her and forcefully retook the letter. They walked back in and the door was slammed shut.
She knew that Rosalie would be coming out for lunch and his house was just across the street behind khajei pin tan [row of Star flower]. She resolved to wait the guy to come out and prepared to smack right on the face. She sat right there with Htike under a Khajei tree. She had a backer, a woman from Thayettaw Monastery inquired what was the matter and when she found out that it was going to be a brawl against a Jail officer, the woman enthusiastically supported her: Cha thar cha, Kya Ma lai: ku mai [Take on, I will assist you].
She treated the Thakins who had come across not only as her husbands associates and comrades but also as her own brothers and comrades-in-arms. One day, Kyaw Nyein and Hla Pe asked her to prepare a good meal for Aung San who remained under ground. It was dinner; Aung San and his companion Hla Myaing took heartily, and from time to time Aung San was exclaiming: Oh, what a ngapi yay, I have to take more for now, when would I have this ngapi yay again. Hla Myaing had been in her house for a couple of days staying as houseguest arranged by Hla Pe. No one, Kyaw Nyein, Hla Pe, Nyo Tun, or Thi Han joined the dinner but looked on. After dinner, a Taxi driven by a Sino-Burmese Driver Ko Kyaw Myaing took Aung San and Hla Myaing away. Aung San had Rupees 100 in his pocket that was the total amount his comrades Hla Pe and Kyaw Nyein could muster. She got very suspicious about the behavior of the group as well as of Aung Sans.
As she could sense abnormal behavior of Aung San she inquired but no one revealed anything but kept their mouths tight shut. She grabbed Hla Pe and started beating him up and demanded: You son of a bitch, tell me what the hell is going on, by so saying she kept beating. The only answer she got was: I dont know Mama Yi, hpaja su: [be punished for having wrong the Buddha] I dont know Mama Yi. She released Hla Pe as nothing would be coming out from him. She found another prey; this time was Kyaw Nyein.
You son of a bitch, I will beat you to death if you dont tell me what the hell is going on with Aung San. So saying she cornered Kyaw Nyein and beat up uncontrollably. Eventually Kyaw Nyein revealed that Aung San is leaving the country to seek military assistance from China for independence struggle. She released Kyaw Nyein soon after. Tears rolled down and she slowly uttered: You guys did not treat me as one of your comrades. If I had known Aung San would be leaving the country and did not even know for how long, I would have prepared much better meal for him. After all, he is one of my younger brothers, you all know that very well.
Kyaw Nyein and Hla Pe, with tears in their eyes, apologized her for not treating her right, Nyo Tun and Thi Han joined in later with full of tears for their uncomradery they had shown on her and sorry for their friend Aung San who had gone to the unknown place.
At the time of independence there was an organization called Women Welfare Association for the Armed Forces [Ta mado amjou: dhami: the tha chaun gji. jei: ahpwe.]. Its first President was ICS U Tin Htuts [Minister of Foreign Affairs] wife, and later Daw Khin Hla, wife of the Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Brigadier General Let Ya, became the president. The government provided Kyat 50,000 annually for the organizations activities and in addition there were subsidy of Kyat 250 per day to serve food or drink for the soldiers at the frontlines.
The organization was at slumber. The countrys state of emergency affairs demanded the organization to be more dynamic. She suggested Bo Let Ya that the organizations activities should be developed into nation wide. Bo Let Ya asked his wife to resign and asked Daw Mya Yi to take over the organization to which she refused at first. But she was not the type of person who would shun the national duty. When all office documents and funds were transferred to her there was only Kyat 3,000 for her to begin with. She started with a plan for Rangoon front with her friends. She chose Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to go to the frontlines with food and drinks prepared, feeding soldiers right at their frontline positions. She needed more than Kyat 250 per day for the food and beverages preparations for the soldiers.
She earnestly urged the people to donate. She and the members of the organization visited to give support to the soldiers at Point 112, U Set Kane monastery, etc. in Insein area where fierce battles between KNDO and loyal government forces fought. Daw Mya Yi with few soldiers from the contingent of the Chin Riffles attached to the Prime Minister and his familys security visited the Artillery units in the evenings who were less mobile in Insein. She had to approach by shouting at them: your auntie is here with food for you all.
Many soldiers in the hospital were without limbs and some without eye balls but hollowed sockets. All were very happy to receive her and her organization that fed and nursed them. She spoon-fed soldiers and they were telling her their gallantries.
During the rest of the week she went around in Rangoon and asked people to donate to her organization. She implemented a care package program by sending cloth-bags to various ministries, public organizations, schools, etc. to donate anything for the soldiers. The response was tremendous. Burma Air Force was requested to airdrop those care packages to various frontline units through out the country. Later, she organized State, Division, District, and Township level organizations by requesting wives of the Administrative Officers to join and took positions at various levels. On annual basis, the Headquarters and all its organizations throughout the country donated many items such as refrigerators, Bell and Howell 16-MM movie projectors, towels, blankets, etc. each according to needs and according to the affordability of the organization to various battalions. Mass participation was at its best. The battalions and the organization throughout the country receiving each other like hands and gloves. All these activities were planned and implemented without Premier Nus assistance at all.
At the height of the organizations popularity, Nu said: Ma Mya Yi, Bo Aung Gyi was telling me their forces are in better shape now and the assistance from your organization is no longer needed. He requested you stop your assistance activities with their forces.
She replied: No sweat Ko Shwe Nu, tell your Bo Aung Gyi we will close all our shops in no time.
Accordingly, she arranged the transfer of funds as well as goods the organizations had received from the public to the government and to the Base Military Hospital. Thus, the chapter of the Women Welfare Association for the Armed Forces was abruptly ceased at the instance of the Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff for Army, Colonel Aung Gyi. Many soldiers cried after they heard that the organization they loved had dissolved.
Daw Mya Yi was quite keen on public works. She would not hesitate to participate in any event that was connected with the masses. It was her idea to form a non-profit charity organization, Wi. Tha Kha Womens Organization. The organization collected donation from its members and with their own funds the Organization built a Wi Tha Kha Pavillion within the confines of Kabar Aye Pagoda where they had seven nights Satu. Di Tha [feast given in charity for all comers] at the annual Kabar Aye Pagoda Festival. On the seventh day, the organization invited 1,000 Monks for the annual Hsun: Gji: Laun: [offer provisions and various articles to the invited monks] which later became a communal offering of provisions by various other organizations.
Another main activity of the organization was offering Swen at the annual Tipitaka [The three repositories of Buddhist scriptures] Sa Pjan Bew: [Examination in recitation of Buddhist Scripture] entered by the Monks.
FOR RESTORING DEMOCRACY
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U Nu of Burma Group
August 23, 2007.
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