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Political role of the Tatmadaw

Individual Documents

Title: The challenge of forging a new Tatmadaw
Date of publication: 18 June 2017
Description/subject: "One of the greatest challenges of the peace process will be to decide what kind of Tatmadaw will be most compatible with the people’s aspirations for a future democratic federal Union..."
Author/creator: SITHU AUNG MYINT
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Frontier Myanmar"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 19 June 2017


Title: Why Myanmar's military is not planning a coup
Date of publication: 08 May 2017
Description/subject: "...The generals do not want to run Myanmar -- at least not directly. They are determined to protect the Tatmadaw and its central place in national life, and they would respond to any challenges to the country's unity, stability and sovereignty -- the former regime's three "national causes." However, within those bounds they want the NLD government to succeed as they share many of its goals. They have made it clear that they too want Myanmar to be strong, modern, prosperous, stable, united, independent and respected..."
Author/creator: Andrew Selth
Language: English
Source/publisher: Nikkei Asian Review
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 09 May 2017


Title: How powerless are Myanmar's military legislators?
Date of publication: 05 June 2016
Description/subject: "...Notwithstanding the recent consolidation of the military bloc, a series of bold moves by the NLD under its leader, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, have highlighted a reality often overlooked. Despite their automatic seat allocation, military representatives cannot block ordinary legislation. While the military contingent holds a constitutional veto by virtue of the 75% "supermajority" required for any charter amendments, it does not hold a blanket legislative veto. All other bills only require a simple majority vote. In effect, with the majority gained from its resounding victory in the 2015 polls, the NLD can ram through legislation, as long as the new laws do not alter constitutional rule. Likewise, proposals drafted by military members of parliament can only be adopted with the NLD's approval..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Nikkei Asian Review
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmanet.org/news/2016/06/06/nikkei-asian-review-how-powerless-are-myanmars-military-leg...
Date of entry/update: 07 June 2016


Title: Expected but Permanent? : The Tatmadaw’s continued political involvement in Myanmar
Date of publication: 26 July 2015
Description/subject: Abstract: "The Tatmadaw remains the most powerful political entity in Myanmar, motivated to preserve four core interests regardless of other changes to the state and society – maintenance of complete institutional autonomy and independence; exclusive control over security portfolios; veto powers over constitutional change; and inhibiting prosecution for actions conducted during the Junta era. These interests are embedded within and supported by a praetorian ethos pillared upon a national security narrative justifying the military’s ongoing political involvement while the democratic process continues to mature, including past the upcoming parliamentary elections this November. New institutions and practices, however, have opened the political realm in unprecedented ways. Within this increasingly shifting political landscape, it is uncertain the unity and coherence of the regime – the military and their retired brethren in charge of the executive and parliament- to maintain power, especially due to the large manipulations of the electoral and democratic processes which would be required to ensure their rule. Military intervention cannot be ruled out, but the Tatmadaw is reluctant to overtly and aggressively reintroduce themselves politically unless it feels its core interests will be irrevocably and immediately compromised by a new government. With their roles and responsibilities protected, the military may feel they can control, or at least marginalize, a parliament and/or government hostile to its interests. The 2015 elections will not, therefore, mark the end of the military’s preponderant political influence but continue to erode their control over the pathways of political power and may bring about the first truly civilian-military government in the country’s transition away from military rule; a significant milestone as those outside the old, yet still influential, military regime gain access to begrudgingly-ceded power.".....Paper delivered at the International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015.
Author/creator: Adam P. MacDonald
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015
Format/size: pdf (76K)
Alternate URLs: http://rcsd.soc.cmu.ac.th/web/Burma/home.php#
Date of entry/update: 08 August 2015


Title: Misunderstanding Myanmar's military
Date of publication: 11 February 2015
Description/subject: "This article is written in response to Time to engage Myanmar's military by Adam P MacDonald, published on this site on February 4."..... "It is troubling to recently hear of international assertions that the sovereign panacea for what ails Myanmar is the mere "professionalization of the Tatmadaw" - ie, the military. This is profoundly off the mark in grasping what Burman-dominated armed forces both have been and still remain: either a brutally armed enterprise or a profit-making military machine. "Educating leadership out of its dark old ways" reflects the same naivete that the world has witnessed in failed international interventions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Internationals, seeing themselves coming to the rescue in Myanmar, are on the same track again. In order to reach viable solutions for this country with its rich geo-strategic, human and natural resource potential, there are several critical realities to be faced concerning military reform or Security Sector Reform (SSR) as it is referred to in Myanmar’s case. The context for this understanding should be based on the realization that the Tatmadaw is the core of a massive repressive governance apparatus, whose old power brokers are still in power. In simplest terms, Burman generals have provided the central direction and muscle in designing and wielding the Burman-dominated Army as the lead instrument of government in dominating ethnic minorities. This has been for the specific purpose of controlling ethnics’ ancestral lands rich in most of Myanmar’s natural resources, host to the majority of its hydro-power potential, and dominating most of its borders and international trade route access. In other words, the basis for Myanmar’s economy..."
Author/creator: Tim Heinemann
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 14 February 2015


Title: Time to engage Myanmar's military
Date of publication: 04 February 2015
Description/subject: "Despite the widespread and rapid normalizing of relations with Myanmar over the past three years, the United States and the West in general have been reluctant to engage the country's military - the Tatmadaw. The signing of the US National Defense Authorization Act for 2015 this past December, however, facilitates the gradual opening of military to military relations between the US and Myanmar..."
Author/creator: Adam P MacDonald
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 14 February 2015


Title: Return of the Myanmar Military?
Date of publication: 17 November 2014
Description/subject: "...In the initial phase of liberalization, the military tended to follow Mr. Thein Sein’s reform initiatives. The generals rarely defied the political agenda of the president, himself a career army bureaucrat, except to defend their economic and tactical interests. But according to several senior aides to Mr. Thein Sein, relations between the president and the commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, are increasingly out of sync. Several sources close to both men told me that General Min Aung Hlaing’s tougher tactics of late were reminiscent of the style of Senior Gen. Than Shwe, Myanmar’s military leader from 1992 to 2011, suggesting that General Than Shwe may still be pulling the strings behind the scenes. Lately, the military leadership has called for expanding the role of the National Defense and Security Council, a military-dominated 11-member body that holds wide-ranging powers, including the right to take over from the civilian government in a state of emergency. During the parliamentary debates last week, military representatives argued that the N.D.S.C. should be able to dissolve Parliament if one-third of the seats become vacant..."
Author/creator: Min Zin
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New York Times"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 18 November 2014


Title: New roles and relations for Myanmar's military
Date of publication: 06 June 2014
Description/subject: "Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. There remains widespread skepticism that reforms underway in Myanmar, despite their expediency and comprehensiveness, are simply cosmetic, civilian window dressing masking the institutionalization of military rule in its latest incarnation. Given the longevity and durability of the generals' hold on power in various regime types, this is not an unjustified perspective. Indeed, the military, or Tatmadaw, remains the most powerful actor in the political system but its role has changed significantly. The military has changed from being a hegemonic player, previously in exclusive control of all levers of state power, to being a veto player, retrenching from the day-to-day administration of the country but with the power to ensure that - regardless of other changes to the state and society - the military's core interests remain preserved. These interests include maintaining its status as an autonomous entity beyond civilian oversight, exclusive purview over security portfolios, immunity for former and current military members for past deeds, and, most importantly, a veto via parliamentary representation over any proposed constitutional amendments. The national security narrative, entrenched in the 2008 constitution as safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state, is the major declaratory rationale of the Tatmadaw historic control over the political apparatus. In this vein, the Tatmadaw portrays itself as the only institution capable of fending off international intrusions and preventing internal collapse. Significant changes in the military's relations with civilian opposition parties, ethnic groups and foreign actors, however, are transforming these previously demonized and persecuted entities into partners within new pathways and processes. Even though mistrust and weariness still exist, the future trajectory of these relations will be crucial in the way Myanmar's political transition evolves..."
Author/creator: Adam P MacDonald
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 23 July 2014


Title: Military can still be good state-builders for Myanmar
Date of publication: 15 October 2013
Description/subject: "Since 1988, worldwide public opinion has been firmly against Myanmar’s Armed Forces, the Tatmadaw. The Tatmadaw have been pressed to let civil society take control of the country’s administration. Nobody would claim that the ‘Burmese Way to Socialism’ was a success, not even the military officials wanted to be linked to the old government’s policies in the nineties. Likewise, most ex-military holding posts in the current quasi-civilian state don’t want to be linked to the former regime. Acknowledging these views, I argue the military might be and should be of great importance to policy making in Myanmar. Nowadays the Tatmadaw is adjusting itself to protect the country against excessive dependence, or even domination, by foreign powers’ interests and agendas. This could be achieved through national reconciliation, with both civilian and military groups acknowledging each other’s role and making policies together. Also, the country needs to prepare for undesirable but possible outcomes of the liberalization, such as financial instability and lack of competitiveness. For all these challenges, the military can still be important as ‘guardians’ of stability in Myanmar. Attempting to avoid and alienate the Tatmadaw from government would only bring back the politicization that plagued the institution for many decades. Given the abrupt socio-economic changes that are being experienced, the political elites should stay together to repel political turmoil and religious fundamentalism (e.g. the 969 movement)..."
Author/creator: Erik H. Ribeiro
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New Mandala"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 15 July 2014


Title: An Assured Political Future
Date of publication: March 2006
Description/subject: Under the guise of national reconciliation, the Tatmadaw tightens its hold on the State... "The National Convention went into recess at a critical phase for the junta at the beginning of February, but most observers suspect they know which way the pendulum will swing once the constitution-drafting body reconvenes later this year. After 13 years of stop-start deliberation, delegates are on the brink of finalizing exactly what role the Tatmadaw (armed forces) will play in Burma's future. Unsurprisingly, the military's prospects look very good. One of their objectives is to have the armed forces play a leading role in politics. The National Convention Convening Committee's Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Thein Sein—has proposed 14 principles concerning the role of the Army which look certain to be approved in the next session..."
Author/creator: Clive Parker
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No3
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006


Title: Endeavours of the Myanmar Armed Forces Government for National Reconsolidation
Date of publication: 2000
Description/subject: Profiles of the main armed groups opposed to the military government...CONCLUSION: "The Armed Forces was obliged to form the State Law and Order Restoration Council and assume State Power on 18th September 1988. But from the time it assumed power the Government has made unceasing endeavors to end the internal armed conflict that had erupted together with independence, and to establish peace and stability in the country. Previously, successive governments had also made efforts to bring about peace, but to no avail. The State Law and Order Restoration Council however, laid down a National Policy comprised of Three National Tasks as well as political, economic and social objectives as guidelines for implementation. Of all the political objectives "national reconciliation" was considered a primary concern and a vital necessity for perpetuation of the Union. It therefore, invited the armed ethnic groups to return to the legal fold. It gave the groups time without limit to hold thorough discussions on the Government's peace initiatives and with infinite patience awaited their decisions. In the meanwhile the government drew up and began to implement comprehensive development programmes and projects in the border regions where the national races well and which had lagged far behind in development. Due to the correctness of this national political policy and the sincere good will demonstrated by the Government, the armed insurrections have ended in nearly all the regions of the country..."
Author/creator: Yan Nyein Aye
Language: English
Source/publisher: SPDC via Archive.org
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://web.archive.org/web/20030201165501/http://www.myanmar.com/Arm_Peace/arm_peace.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma's Military Politics
Date of publication: December 1997
Description/subject: "Burma's ruling military junta caught everyone by surprise when the ruling generals declared the SLORC dissolved and announced the formation of a new junta under the name of the SPDC. The 19-member SPDC consists of four generals who held top positions in SLORC and a host of new generals. They include the heads of the navy and air force and, most crucially, the commanders of military zones (sit taing). There was also a cabinet reshuffle and the formation of a "new" 39-member cabinet, and a 14-member Advisory Council..."
Author/creator: By Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol. 5. No.7
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003