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Dr Maung Maung

Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot

Robert H Taylor

Publication Year: 2008

Dr Maung Maung (1925-94) was a man of many parts: scholar, soldier, nationalist, internationalist, parliamentarian, and public servant. His life spanned seven decades of political, economic and social turbulence in the country he loved and served, Myanmar. A pioneer amongst post-colonial journalists in Southeast Asia, he was equally at home in the libraries and seminars of universities in the United States, Europe and Australia during the Cold War. As a jurist, Dr Maung Maung knew the law must remain relevant to changing societal requirements. As an author, he wrote weighty scholarly tomes and light-hearted accounts spiced with his wry observations on human foibles. He was a keen observer of human strengths and weaknesses. A loyal friend, he never maligned his critics or denied their merits. As a man of affairs, he was capable of understanding the weaknesses of the institutions that he served and that ultimately failed to live up to their ideals. This book collects together a number of his now obscure but important historical and journalistic essays with a full bibliography of his works.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. xi-xiii

Dr Maung Maung: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot consists of seven related sections. Each section has an introductory essay prepared by me. My introductory essays serve to place the reprinted publications of the late Dr Maung Maung into context to assist the reader to understand...

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pp. xv-xvi

I am grateful to a number of persons for assistance in collating this collection. Dr Maung Maung’s children have been very helpful on a number of points, especially determining some dates and collecting some photographs. U Thaw Kaung, now a member of the...

Section I

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Dr Maung Maung: The Life of a Patriot

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pp. 3-23

Dr Maung Maung was a man of many parts — a scholar and a soldier, a nationalist and an internationalist, a parliamentarian and a public servant — and his life and times spanned seven decades of political, economic and social turbulence in the country he loved and served, Myanmar...

Section II

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Dr Maung Maung’s Approach to Life

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pp. 27-30

All but one of the articles reprinted in this section are based on radio talks that Dr Maung Maung gave over the English-language service of Myanmar Athan, the Myanmar government radio station, in 1948 and 1949. Commissioned by U Khin Zaw, the poet “K”, and...

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The Burma I Love

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pp. 31-36

In the village, one gets quiet and peace and happiness, love and friendship. People there are simple and sincere; no hatred, no cunning, no evil desires pollute their honest hearts. Their speech is rough and often rude, it has not the polish of the city-born or the...

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My Politics

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pp. 37-40

I am a common man blessed with no special knowledge nor flashy brilliance. My thoughts are those of a common man and so are my aspirations. My desires are common desires: I like to live in peace and happiness and reasonable comfort, I want to add to whatever knowledge...

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Looking Ahead

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pp. 41-44

It should not be long before the present crisis is overcome and normal conditions are restored. A crisis cannot drag on for a long time: if it does, it loses its dignity as a crisis. Since the end of the present difficulties cannot be very far off, it may be wise to prepare...

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I Discovered Greatness

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pp. 45-48

Of course, it is all a matter of opinion, and opinions, as we know are so susceptible to change. Everyone has his or her own idea of greatness. I remember well how, as a young fellow with too much of romance in my head and heart, I used to wield my toy sword...

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The Turning Tide

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pp. 49-52

Now the tide has turned and is turning still and the forces of the law are sweeping on in one mighty wave. There is no stopping the forces now: they will just sweep on irresistibly, crushing all rebels and lawless elements that dare to stand in their way. Mostly...

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The Middle Way

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pp. 53-55

Where do we go from here? To the left or to the right? If we incline leftwards we have to change, either by violent revolution or by gradual evolutionary process. We must uproot the Old Order and plant the New. Our destination in that leftward...

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Books on Burma

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pp. 56-60

There have been authors who came to Burma for a brief few months, rushed round and saw everything and met everyone, and went back to write their books in briefer fewer months. Their books are not to be denounced. They probably serve their purpose, giving the impressions...

Section III

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Dr Maung Maung and Biography

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pp. 63-71

Despite the important role that Dr Maung Maung played in Myanmar’s journalistic world from the cusp of independence until the time of the Revolutionary Council government, he wrote and spoke relatively infrequently on that aspect of his life. As discussed above, while...

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Mr Speaker Sir!

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pp. 72-76

Bo Hmu Aung, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, successor to Pyawbwe U Mya, is 44 but looks younger, except for his greying hair — his hair went grey during that heart-breaking period of splits in the Peoples Volunteer Organisation which he led. “That was...

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Brigadier Kyaw Zaw: Battles and Books

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pp. 77-82

In 1945 it was, I think. The Patriot Burmese Forces had just been demobilised, and the men were going home. The Burma Army was being re-formed and a limited number of PBF men were being selected for commissions. Bo Kyaw Zaw who had made a name in the...

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Bo Khin Maung Gale: “Democracy and the Rule of Law”

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pp. 83-92

1943, or was it 1944? Time has passed so quickly these years, and one loses the exact reckoning. But I was in the Burma National Army doing a tour of duty at the supply corps of which Capt. (later Major) Khin Maung Gale was the commanding officer. I worked...

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Thakin Chit Maung

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pp. 93-98

A moon looking very much like a young lady’s severely plucked eyebrow floated lazily in the clear sky above. Our canoe cut silently through the night, speeding forward at every dip of the muffled oar. The canoeman was Karen and we were moving in friendly Karen territory...

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General Ne Win

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pp. 99-109

It was a moment of decision, again. The crossroads, again. Time: the middle of 1945. Place 77 Sanchaung St. in the Sanchaung suburb of Rangoon, an ageing wooden house standing on stilts. Colonel Ne Win, having directed Resistance operations in the Delta had...

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Mr Justice Chan Htoon

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pp. 110-117

The lights shone, and the big and crowded assembly hall was hushed in attentive silence. U Chan Htoon, the Attorney-General, was the guest speaker. The spotlight was on him; to him a thousand eyes were turned. It was an atmosphere, a situation, that he loved. He...

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Daw Pyu la Mac Phsu

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pp. 118-124

I landed in Pnom-Penh, Cambodia, right, I might say, in Daw Phy’s lap. There was a weary night at Bangkok before we flew the next morning for Pnom-Penh. My colleague, Nyo Mya, editor of the “Oway” had gone out into the night to study, so he said, Thai culture. I had...

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U Kyaw Nyein

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pp. 125-145

The coffee was growing cold. U Kyaw Nyein broke his talk with me just long enough to pour some cold coffee into the cold saucer and drink in thirsty gulps. To transfer tea or coffee from the cup to the saucer before drinking is the habit of the ahnyatha, and I was glad to note...

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U Hla Maung

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pp. 146-157

He sat and smoked his Burmese cheroot and talked to me, enjoying both the cheroot and the talking. He wore a Burmese, cotton longyi and an American bush shirt with the flashy design of a Burmese htamein which American males particularly seem to relish. Everything...

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U Thein Maung, Chief Justice of the Union

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pp. 158-170

Foreign observers once laughed at young, independent Burma, and enjoyed the laughing. In 1949 when the Burmese government was confined more or less in embattled Rangoon, the foreign cynics cleverly dubbed it as the “Rangoon Government.” Prophets of doom...

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U Tun Win

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pp. 171-182

Of what stuff are Burma’s leaders in the Government made of? From what backgrounds do they spring? What form of training, what kind of experience do they share; what struggles, what sacrifices have they gone through or made together? The answers are that most of...

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Htain Lin, a Young PVO Insurgent

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pp. 183-189

When I hear about the new, liberal amnesty terms which have been offered to insurgents, PVO and KNDO, Communist Red Flag and White Flag, army mutineer and police deserter and “independent” insurgent alike, when I read in the papers brief and compulsive...

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Vum Ko Hau of Siyin

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pp. 190-199

It was autumn in London, 1947. The dead leaves rode the wind past the windows of the Dorchester Hotel. Across the Street, Hyde Park was gold with fallen leaves. Autumn in London is sad, mellow, mild, but for the Burmese delegation occupying some suites in the Hotel in...

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U Ba Swe

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pp. 200-209

When will U Ba Swe, Defence Minister, Socialist leader, president of the Trade Unions, the strong silent man whom his comrades call — with a touch of affection — “Tiger”, become Prime Minister of Burma? He has often been named as successor. He has, in the...

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U Thant

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pp. 210-218

Be it U Nu. Be it U Ba Swe. Be it U Kyaw Nyein or Thakin Tin. Whoever may occupy the Prime Minister’s residence in the Windermere compound behind those tall iron bars, beyond that sentry post, U Thant, it seems will be there at Prome Court deputing for the...

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Thakin Than Tun

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pp. 219-228

Eight years in the jungle, at least four of them spent on constant flight from pursuing government troops, eight years of hope and ambition, promise and frustration, eight years of fighting the “people’s war” as willed by the comrades abroad. Eight years, he knew now...

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M.A. Raschid

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pp. 229-242

Burma is a young country in which young men rule. For good or ill these times in this country are the times of the young. When, therefore, the rise of Burma from colonial servitude to independent nationhood is traced, the University Students Strike of 1936 is usually...

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Dr E Maung

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pp. 243-252

Politics is a demanding mistress. She draws irresistibly, destroys ruthlessly, loves recklessly. Once caught by her one cannot escape, and, more often than not, one does not even try. Dr E Maung got caught rather late in life. He had already left behind him a long career as lawyer...

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U Myint Thein, Chief Justice of the Union

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pp. 253-264

When Parliament in joint session last month unanimously resolved to recommend to the President the confirmation of U Myint Thein in his appointment as Chief Justice of the Union, it did more than choose a man: it further upheld the democratic tradition of the...

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Saya Za Khup of Siyin

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pp. 265-269

From Fort White at the gate of the Northern Chin Hills one goes up north along the winding, rocky road, and soon one is on the crest of the hills. On that crest there is a small cemetery, neatly kept, fresh with flowers and grass, and some eight crosses mark the burial places...

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U Nyo Mya, or “Maung Thumana”

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pp. 270-281

The other day U Nyo Mya, editor of the “Oway” newspaper, flew to Monywa on his way to Ahmyint, his hometown. He will be away for a few weeks, but his is not a journalist mission, but a political one. He had, since the last few months, been a member...

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A Boundless Faith in Burma

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pp. 282-287

While big and rapid changes are taking place around us Dr J.S. Furnivall calmly, taps away at his old, faithful typewriter, at the T.T. Luce’s Home for Boys. He has been doing this for many years, and, these days, he breaks this persistent activity during the day only...

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Daw Khin Kyi (Madame Aung San)

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pp. 288-291

After the fighting had ended, the Burma Independence Army was regrouped in Pyinmana with Aung San as the commander, and his comrades in the army and the thakin party started marrying right and left, partly because they were the heroes and girls are willing to give...

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A Book for Colonel Ba Than

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pp. 292-294

Colonel Ba Than wrote to me in October, 1960, about the books we wanted to prepare and publish, on the war, the resistance, on Bogyoke Aung San, books that still wait to be written. There is so much creative work to do in Burma, and so few people to do...

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The Secretary-General’s Role in the U.N.

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pp. 295-301

Soon the General Assembly will disperse for Christmas, and delegates will go home. The great and burning political issues will have been discussed, the speeches and the gestures will have been made, hitting the headlines sometimes, missing them sometimes. Even more...

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Aung San: Hero of Burma’s Victory

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pp. 302-306

A dulation of Aung San has almost become a habit in Burma, but will a calm assessment of him ever be attempted? Assessment cannot be easy when understanding him was itself so difficult. The one bronze monument raised to his memory in Rangoon shows...

Section IV

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Dr Maung Maung and Travel

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pp. 309-314

Dr Maung Maung was a keen observer of the world around him. He took great delight in the varieties of the human species and the differences in the environments in which they lived. His London Diary, published in 1952, immediately upon his return from his two year...

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Elections: Burma and Britain

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pp. 315-318

A general election in England is not an exciting affair: it goes quietly and smoothly. I much prefer the elections in Burma which, at any rate in my younger days, never failed to be great fun. There would be the open air meetings in some football field or...

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pp. 319-326

I saw this ancient city, my home, burn. April 23rd, 1942 it was, for I distinctly remember and the burning of Mandalay has burned itself into my memory. War was coming up fast from the south. Moulmein had fallen, Rangoon was falling. The Japanese “liberators” were coming...

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Vietnam (South)

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pp. 327-331

What is the Vietnam equation? Is Vietnam equal to the young Foreign Office protocol officer, Vu Khae Thu who waited for us at the airport while we drove into Saigon from Pnom-Penh (Cambodia) by car? Pleasant, eager to be of service, quick to understand...

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pp. 332-337

I expect Eric Wee is in the elected wing of the Singapore legislalature now. When I met him, a few months ago in a fashionable Singapore hotel in the company of the Burmese Consul U Ba Thaung, I knew that he was for that seat of power destined. Eric was...

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In the Fabled Land of Apollo and Socrates

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pp. 338-341

Athens: In Greece wherever you look round you find those straight marble corinthian columns standing erect, proud of their 2,500 years of history and art. They will continue to stand there after generations of puny men, with their loud slogans and their big bombs and...

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Impressions of the United Nations

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pp. 342-345

The 14th session of the United Nations General Assembly which I have been attending as a member of our delegation is ending in a few days. It will then have been three months that we all have been meeting and working at the U.N. Three months can be...

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Antioch College, A Living Dream

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pp. 346-351

America is a big country and full of variety. Her peoples come from many lands in pursuit of many dreams. Some have settled, rooted to the soil, and yet linked with the faraway lands of their origin; thus one finds a little Holland here, a little Germany there, a bit of...

Section V

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Dr Maung Maung and the Tatmadaw

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pp. 355-360

Despite Dr Maung Maung normally being identified in his later life as the pre-eminent civilian in the post-1962 governments of Myanmar, his four-year career in Myanmar’s armed forces, the tatmadaw, was a formative period in his life and one that he often...

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The Forgotten Army

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pp. 361-385

Darkness fell in gentle showers. The sun dug his head into the heaving bosom of the Pegu Yomas, and from the west, a soft gentle breeze sprang up. Away out east, the Shan hills began to fade into a blur of black, the paddy fields lying in-between being turned...

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The Burmese Guerillas

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pp. 386-388

Next day the communique from Burma gives the laconic statements: Burma guerillas were again active last night. Behind this bald statement lies the story of a fully equipped and well disciplined Army of Burmese patriots who are fighting side by side with the British, Gurkha and Indian...

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The Resistance Movement

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pp. 389-394

The rains have come and with the rains recollections of those bitter days of difficulty, danger and death when Burma rose as one man against the Japanese to achieve that historic Resistance. It was about this time, two years ago, that we were wading knee-deep in the mud...

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The Mighty Drama

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pp. 395-398

I went to Insein two days after the Union Armed Forces had taken occupation of it. With me were Khin Lay Maung with his inevitable camera, and my doctor friend who was anxious to find out if his Karen sayama was safe. We passed the famous Saw Benson’s garden...

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Soldiers of Victory

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pp. 399-401

Now, on every front our soldiers are winning victories for us. From everywhere heartening news are pouring in. The thrust to Prome is steadily pushing northwards and soon it will meet the downward thrust that is rolling down from Yenangyaung irresistibly...

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Destination Monghsat

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pp. 402-407

The war against the KMT is a grim war and a lonely war. The men engaged in the actual fighting are enjoying it. Action wakes are men up, inspires them, even intoxicates them. But waiting in the rear for messages that are relayed from the front, for reports...

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Burma Army

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pp. 408-416

“Sit!”, ordered the platoon commander and the cadets of the Burma Army Officer Training School sat. They set preserving their formation. They were tired after a long march and the day was hot, but even in sitting down they were smart. They did not sag and fall. They...

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Women Officers of the Burma Army

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pp. 417-424

The Burma Army Combat Forces School at Ba Htu Myo in Lauksawk, Southern Shan State, lay quiet and sleepy under a curtain of mountain mists. It was six in the morning, time only for the birds and beasts of the jungle to stir; reasonable men and women slept. Even the...

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Women on the Wing

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pp. 425-432

At Hmawbi one day in July, the Glider Club organized by the Burma Air Force to make the citizens of Burma “airminded”, put on a demonstration for the benefit of the press. It was an impressive affair. Young boys from schools, young men from college or who are...

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pp. 433-438

Thakin Than Tun does not like 106, for this commando unit of the Burma Army, officially known as “Special Battalion 106” has been chasing him all over the country. For many months 106 chased Than Tun or his men in the “three-M triangle” — the area between...

Section VI

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Dr Maung Maung and the Constitutions of Myanmar

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pp. 441-447

If Dr Maung Maung’s patriotism drew him toward the tatmadaw in which he had briefly served and many of whose top officers were close friends of his, his journalistic avocation drew him naturally to write about the politicians, judges, and journalists who were prominent in the...

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pp. 448-455

“Pyidawtha” is one of the happily increasing number of things in contemporary Burma that one can be really enthusiastic about. A fascinating word — coined perhaps by Premier Nu who has a flair for phrase — pyidawtha has quickly become an idea that has grown into...

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State Socialism in Burma

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pp. 456-459

Most people in Burma today are ardent leftists. Marxists, intellectuals and thinkers, organisers, and workers, revolutionaries and realists. It is extremely difficult to find people who profess themselves to be rightists; “rightists” and “reactionaries” are terms of reproach...

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The Burmese Parliament

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pp. 460-465

The Union of Burma Parliament began its career in April 1947 as a Constituent Assembly. The constitution was drafted in three busy months, adopted unanimously by the Assembly in September, and soon after by the British Parliament, and the independence of Burma was...

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Burma’s Constitution Comes to Life

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pp. 466-477

The title of this essay is borrowed from a series of articles which were published by ‘The Guardian’, in Rangoon, when the ruling party in Burma, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) split into two large factions, and several grave issues of politics...

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Our Living Constitution I

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pp. 478-482

We live in a fast changing, fast-moving world. Much of what we used to believe in have been found to be false. We were taught that in matter the atom was the ultimate, the indivisible. Now the atom has been split, and the atom which used to look so sweet and small...

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Our Living Constitution II

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pp. 483-487

The state is not supreme in our constitution; the people are the citizen does not exist for the state. It is the other way round. All this makes sweet saying, but in actual working it takes quite a lot to maintain a happy balance. If one man gets up in the state and...

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Section 116 of the Constitution

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pp. 488-492

Now that all parliamentary parties except what remains of the NUF are agreed that General Ne Win should continue to lead the Government until fair and free elections can be held and that therefore section 116 of the Constitution should not be allowed to stand in...

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Burma-China Boundary Settlement

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pp. 493-499

On January 4 this year Burma celebrated her 13th anniversary of independence. In Rangoon to take part in the rejoicings, along with over 400 members of a Chinese cultural delegation, was Chinese Premier Mr Chou En-Lai. As a token of eternal friendship and...

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Lawyers and Legal Education in Burma

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pp. 500-506

“Democracy” and the “Rule of Law” are not merely ideals but rallying cries in Burma today. Since her re-emergence as an independent nation, Burma has been having hard trials: insurrections set off by the Communist Party and dissident racial groups; riots on...

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The Search for Constitutionalism in Burma

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pp. 507-522

This is an attempt to study the important features of the Constitution of Burma, the big events in its young career, the problems it has faced and the solutions it has found for them. The story of the constitution is neither spectacular nor sensational, but it has revealed...

Section VII

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Dr Maung Maung and the Presidency

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pp. 525-535

Dr Maung Maung’s final public act was to assume, on 19 August 1988, the Chairmanship of the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) and thereby the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma. His occupancy of the highest office in the land...

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Address to the Central Committee of the Burma Socialist Programme Party, 19 August 1988

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pp. 536-542

It has now been a year since Party Chairman U Ne Win gave guidance for reviewing the experiences gained during 25 years, for improving and consolidating the good points, correcting mistakes and bringing about basic changes in works that cannot be implemented. While measures...

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Address to the Nation, 24 August 1988

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pp. 543-548

So, now, the Tatmadaw after transferring back the military administration duties, will be able to resume its primary duties, going out to forward areas when the time comes, to crush internal and external dangers, the duties it has performed undauntedly and strenuously...

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Address to the Nation, 1 September 1988

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pp. 549-554

We are now making arrangements to hold the Extraordinary Party Congress on 12 September and then to hold an emergency session of the Pyithu Hluttaw on 13 September, to decide on the holding of the national referendum as to whether the single party system is to be continued...

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Address to the Extraordinary Congress of the BSPP, 10 September 1988

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pp. 555-559

I would like to commend and confer honour upon the Party Congress delegates from all over the country who have assembled today after passing various obstacles and dangers. As invitation could be made only on 24 August evening for convening the Extraordinary Party Congress we...

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Address to the Pyithu Hluttaw, 11 September 1988

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pp. 560-565

The Pyithu Hluttaw has today decided to override the single-party system and to hold general elections as soon as possible on the democratic multi-party system. The decision is a milestone in history. History itself will provide the answer in twenty or twenty-five years times as to whether...

Bibliography of Dr Maung Maung’s Writings

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pp. 567-578


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pp. 579-590

The Editor

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pp. 591

E-ISBN-13: 9789812306005
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812304094

Page Count: 591
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1