Sunday, June 26, 2016

MPC or an organization distorted by some media

No comments
By Sithu Aung Myint
Caption – Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC) and Ethnic Armed Organization’s Senior Delegation (SD) of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Committee (NCCT) hold their 8th meeting on July 22, 2015. (Photo - Thet Ko)
If we have to show an organization which will end up with controversy in late 2015, it could be none other than the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) which was established by Vice-Chairman of the UPWC and Union Minister U Aung Min. Some wish to abolish this organization when the new government led by NLD assumes office soon and this peace negotiation work will be led by Aung San Suu Kyi herself. But at the meeting between NLD officials led by Aung San Suu Kyi with MPC officials, the NLD officials said that they would not abolish this MPC but they would reassess and sum up the work done by the MPC. Let us discuss here about the MPC which energetically worked for peace but its image was distorted by some media.

The MPC was established in November 2012 and it was led by Minister U Aung Min and currently it has over 100 staff. The performance of the MPC can be known if you look at its achievements in negotiating ceasefire and peace building work among the government, Tatmadaw (defence services) and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs).

On the other hand, the MPC was accused of being a biased organization in favour of the government, no transparency in using funds donated by international organizations, drawing a huge amount of this fund as salaries by MPC members, irregularities in issuing car permits to EAOs, driving a wedge among EAOs and creating dissension among them, etc.  The Eleven Media, in which Dr. Than Htut Aung is the CEO, even made a severe accusation against MPC as follows: “There are some analyses on the MPC as having similarities of working styles and operating procedures with the now defunct Directorate of Military Intelligence (MI) led by former Gen. Khin Nyunt and abolished in 2004.” It compared the MPC with MI which was notorious in Burmese political history for their brutality.

On accusations of non-transparency in using international funds given by EU countries and drawing salaries from this fund, MPC officials explained that they did no wrongdoing and there were no irregularities as their funds were periodically audited by the EU with their certified auditors. In fact there are many more organizations which are receiving funds from international donors. It is not unusual. But none of them are questioned by anyone like the MPC. If some media have suspicions about the misusing and misappropriation of funds in the MPC, they should try to approach their international donors directly and they can ask for the accounts and books to be checked. But unilateral accusing the MPC without investigation is just trying to distort of the MPC’s image.

In the car permit cases too, the EAOs complained of having difficulties in coming to towns as their cars did not have licenses (vehicle registrations). At the time of the MI led by Gen. Khin Nyunt, their cars were allowed to run on roads with the sticker of their organizations. These unofficial licenses were issued under the authority of MI. But at the time of the U Aung Min's MPC working for peace, the MPC gave official vehicle registrations to these cars used by EAOs. Some of them were issued vehicle registration and license plates without paying customs duty and commercial tax and some of them were issued license plates by paying 50 percent of these taxes. All of these EAOs accepted this privilege willingly and happily. But in the open market, some of these permits were sold by some of these EAOs for raising funds. And then some media wrongly accused by claiming the losing of a huge amount of revenue from the country’s coffers [in the issuing of these car permits] because of the MPC’s wrong policy.

In fact no one can deny the consistent efforts made by the MPC and Minister U Aung Min for peace building and its performance and achievements. Minister U Aung Min and MPC could convince EAOs to enter political dialogue while holding their arms in their hands by signing the ceasefire agreement first. And also U Aung Min and the MPC could create unprecedented opportunity for these EAOs to sit together and discuss together for peace and the ceasefire agreement by giving required assistance to them. In this way we have finally got this historical Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) which is unanimously accepted and agreed by all ethnic armed nationalities and organizations.

But the MPC and Union Minister U Aung Min have some failures in their efforts too. The most important point is not having all-inclusiveness in signing the NCA and the consequent political dialogues along with some other consequent problems. The main purpose and function of the MPC in that three-year period is playing the role of intermediary between the EAOs and the Tatmadaw in the peace negotiations. They could do nothing if the Tatmadaw and the EAOs disagreed. Moreover, sometimes the MPC was blamed and received complaints from both sides especially when the war broke out again in Kokang, when Rakhine armed group could gain foothold in Rakhine State, when Ta'ang Palaung armed group active again during this 3-year period of peace dialogue.

In drawing a conclusion for this 3-year period of the MPC, the media coverage of its efforts and achievements are not covered and reported enough but they were overshadowed by its weaknesses and unilateral wrongful accusations so that they were misunderstood by the people. This could be done because of some media taking advantage of the prejudices and hatred against the government by the people. And I’d like to opine that it may also be because of jealousy of some diaspora Myanmar intellectual members in the MPC.

No comments :

Post a Comment