< Aung Khant Phyo Wai ( Taungoo ) >
The 27th of March 2016 is the 71st Anniversary Armed Forces Day. The Day reflects the brilliant historical tradition of the Tatmadaw that victoriously launched the antifascist struggle together with the people with the spirit of unity while putting the interest of the state and the people to the fore. In honour of this glorious historical tradition, every year the nation observes the Armed Forces Day on 27 March.
The Tatmadaw was born on 27 December 1941 as the Burma Independence Army(BIA). The Tatmadaw was formed amidst the anti-colonialist struggle and the national independence struggle. Moreover, it was founded by the people who joined the service with the will to sacrifice life, blood and sweat for the cause of the nation and the people or in other words for the race and religion.
These are its two significant characteristics that serve as the strength of the people’s Tatmadaw of today. Having these significant characteristics, the Tatmadaw formed within the nation has been discharging the nation-building and national defence duties unwaveringly and brilliantly while joining hands and leading the people in their service since its formation.
Since ancient times, Myanmar has been a proud country under its own monarchs in this world. People established city states such as Beikthano, Hanlin and Srikestra in about 300 BC. During the Bagan period, King Anawrahta founded the First Myanmar Kingdom. King Bayintnaung, after reuniting the whole country, set up the Second Myanmar Kingdom with Taungoo as the base, and King Alaungmintaya U Aung Zeya established the Third Myanmar Kingdom with Shwebo as the core. In the 19th century, the British colonialists after incorporating India into their empire took the country as the base in waging three aggressive wars against Myanmar in 1824, 1852 and 1885 and finally annexed the country. Thus Myanmar had lost its independence and sovereignty since then.
When the World War II broke out in 1939, Myanmar youths started their efforts for waging the armed resistance against the colonialists. In 1941, the Thirty Comrades ventured to Japan and underwent tough military training there. The BIA led by the Thirty Comrades was founded in Bangkok on 27 December 1941. The BIA in cooperation with the people could drive out the colonialists from the country. When the colonialists left the country, Japan broke its promise of giving Myanmar independence with no string attached.
On 27 July 1942, the fascists abolished the BIA and reformed it as the Burma Defence Army(BDA) with strength of about 3,000 men. On 1 August 1943, Japan granted Myanmar sham independence and the BDA was renamed Burma National Army. Standing fi rmly by the people, the Burma National Army started preparations to drive the fascists out of the country. On 27 March 1945, together with the people it successfully launched the anti-fascist struggle. British, who had already witnessed the unity and courage of the people and the Tatmadaw, applied various means to delay independence. Eventually the British had to grant independence to Myanmar. Myanmar restored total independence and sovereignty on 4 January 1948. Throughout the independence struggle, the Tatmadaw together with the people made utmost efforts with sacrificing spirit till the whole country regained freedom.
One year after Myanmar regained her independence in 1948, the whole Myanmar was at the mercy of multi-coloured insurgent groups and the then-government was called “Yangon overnment”. For the country’s independence and sovereignty, the Tatmadaw had to fight against destructive acts from home and abroad. The Tatmadaw saved the country at a time when the country was on the edge of collapse. In 1958, the Tatmadaw retained the nation’s situation as the split in the government might lead to the bloodshed and supported the flourishing of parliamentary democracy system. In 1958, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) split into two factions. Even the prime minister himself was unable to solve the political scandal as it was very complex. On 29 October the same year, the Tatmadaw had to take over the State’s duties and safeguard the lives and property of the citizens.
The Tatmadaw had to retain the country’s power temporarily as a caretaker government. The caretaker government was comprised of 14 members including the prime minister who was not involved in the country’s politics. While in office, the caretaker government could solve China-Myanmar territorial disputes and held the third parliamentary democracy elections successfully. On April 3, 1960, the caretaker government handed over the country’s power to the Union party which won the elections. The Union party could not govern the country and faced the big rift and some old chieftain’s demand for separation by expecting military assistance from the western countries. The Tatmadaw had to take over the country’s power in the name of “Revolutionary Council” as the country was in danger of collapse.
The charter drafting was one of the works done by the Tatmadaw during the period from 1962 to 1974. On March 2, 1974, the Tatmadaw handed over the country’s power to the civilian government after the Pyithu Hluttaw and the People’s Council had been formed according to the 1974 Constitution. The Tatmadaw is always loyal to the country and continues performing the state’s defence and security duties. The single party system lasted for 14 years from 1974 to 1988. The country’s development was slow as the country could not make reforms in conformity with the political and economic situation in the world.
In 1988, there occurred political activities that opposed the single party system. There was anarchy in the country at the instigation of the above-ground and underground insurgents. But the Tatmadaw could protect the country from the collapse in time. On 18 September, 1988, the Tatmadaw formed “the State Law and Order Restoration Council” and retained the situations. The Tatmadaw had to retake the country’s power inevitably by upholding the non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of sovereignty. The Tatmadaw had to steadfastly stand in front of people to defend the lives and property of the people as the anarchy like beheadings was rampant in the country.
From 1997 to 2011, the Tatmadaw as the State Peace and Development Council took the responsibilities of rebuilding the nation and establishing internal peace and Myanmar joined the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on July 23, 1997 under the administration of the State Peace and Development Council. The SPDC in order to build a peaceful, modern, developed, democratic nation, adopted and implemented four political objectives, four economic objectives and four social objectives. On August 30, 2003, it adopted seven-step road map and implemented it step by step. Likewise, the SPDC adopted ‘Our Three Main National Causes’ as the national policy and could make peace with 17 ethnic armed groups, enabling them to undertake regional development works together with the Tatmadaw. The council also helped them transform into border guard forces, allowing them to serve the national defence duty hand in hand with the Tatmadaw. Serving the interests of the nation and the national people, it carried out regional development tasks the length and breadth of the country, drafted the 2008 Constitution and ratified it with the support of 92.48 per cent of national people in a nationwide referendum, laying sound foundations for establishment of modern, developed, democratic nation as aspired by the people and finally handing over the overall power of the State to the new government on March 31, 2011.
Since the independence struggle, the Tatmadaw was born as a result of historical and national necessity. Formed with patriotic citizens of the country, it is a strong national force with long history of serving the country and the people. Our Tatmadaw has to be strengthened and modernized to be on a par with international defence forces for perpetuity of the country’s independence and sovereignty.
The subsection (f) of the article 6 (the Union’s consistence objectives) of the Chapter I on Basic Principles of the Union states “enabling the Defence Services to be able to participate in the National political leadership role of the State.” Additionally, article 20 (e) states “The Defence Services is mainly responsible for safeguarding the non-disintegration of the Union, the non- disintegration of National solidarity, and the perpetuation sovereignty” and article 20 (f) states “The Defence Services is mainly responsible for safeguarding the Constitution”.
Since the Tatmadaw is the Union defence forces formed with national brethren, it besides the national defence and security duty has always provided relief and rescue works in time whenever there is disaster. It has also carried out rehabilitation works with might and main. The mobile medical teams of the Tatmadaw also provide health care services for national people in respective regions and states to be able to lead a healthy life.
Unless there is rule of law and peace and stability, the democracy the country is building will not last long and the government, people and the Tatmadaw are therefore engaging in peace process to end armed conflicts in Myanmar to be able to march straight toward the goal of democracy. The government took the first step, introducing multiparty democracy in 2011 and the Tatmadaw unwaveringly supported the democratic path over the past five years. It will do the same, ensuring peace and stability in the second stage of democratization process.
The Tatmadaw is building up defence (army, navy and air) capability to be able to fully protect the country—a land of natural resources located in strategic position—and the national people. It is striving to build strong, capable armed forces with advanced technologies. As the Tatmadaw was born of historic necessity, it is ensuring the socioeconomic security, and peace and stability of entire national people and is ready to accomplish the national defence and national political duties to be assigned by country, learning the lessons of the past and taking pragmatic approaches.
As the Tatmadaw is the sole national force standing before the people since independence struggle until today, the history of the country and the history of the Tatmadaw cannot be separated. Adhering to the instructions of the successive leadership of the Tatmadaw “to serve the interests of the people, to always protect the people, and to comply with the wishes of the people with right attitude and belief,” the Tatmadaw maintains its fine traditions.
Therefore, in crafting the future considering the past and present of the country, the Tatmadaw and the people are to work shoulder to shoulder to shape a brighter future for the country. Hailing the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Tatmadaw, this article hopes “Tatmadaw’s will go down in history for what it has done for the country”
The Myawady Daily