Insight into Myanmar’s Internal Conflict: The Advantage of Kokang’s Non-Power Holders in National Defense Forces

2023-12-22 16:00:00

First-hand observation 4/Myanmar’s five major Kokang families who are not power holders have an overwhelming advantage in the number of people in the National Defense Forces

The internal war in Myanmar lasted for more than a month. Government troops and allied forces fought fiercely in various places. Both sides suffered heavy casualties. The local people were even more miserable. This attracted international attention. However, due to the local closure of the border and the prohibition of foreigners from entering, the outside world could not know about Myanmar. To learn about the real internal situation, Ling Media has contacted a Taiwanese businessman in Southeast Asia who is familiar with the current situation there. Through this Taiwanese businessman’s first-hand observation, it leads readers to have an in-depth understanding of the latest developments in the war in northern Myanmar.

Author: Taiwanese businessman from Southeast Asia

We should note that in the military conflict in Myanmar in 2023, the Kokang Allied Forces that launched the war appealed to “compatriots across the country” in their war message “Message to the People of the Nation”. It is different from the war cry “A Bloody Letter to Chinese Compatriots Around the World” issued by the Kokang Allied Forces when they counterattacked Kokang in 2015. At that time, the target of their appeal was “Chinese around the world.” The “compatriots across the country” here refers to the people of all Myanmar.

In addition to the different objects of appeal, the identities of the authors are also different. In 2015, it was issued in the name of the then leader Peng Jiasheng (the father of the current leader Peng Deren). This time in 2023, it was issued in the name of the “Myanmar National Justice Party Central Committee”, “Myanmar Shan State First Region People’s Government”, “Myanmar National Jointly issued by the Military Committee of the Democratic Alliance Army. The Justice Party, the SAR government, and the Allied Forces respectively represent the highest power of the “party, government, and military.” The change in the format of the statement from 2015 to 2023 actually reflects the reforms carried out by the Kokang Alliance Army during this period, in an attempt to break away from family-style politics in the system.

Since “family politics” is easily understood by the public, the media often reports from the perspective of family politics when interpreting this incident. For example, the 1027 military operation launched by the Kokang Allied Forces was called “the Burmese version of the prince’s revenge” and “the father’s debt was repaid by the son.” Although these statements are eye-catching and intuitive, once readers accept them, it is easy to ignore the emergence of regional politics in recent years. Big changes.

The same situation also occurs on the issue of the so-called “four major families”.

The four major families or the five major families generally refer to the four most powerful families in the Kokang Autonomous Region of Myanmar. They are the Bai family, the Wei family, and the two Liu families. Some people also add the Ming family to form the top five. According to rumors, these families “control the politics, military, and economy of the Kokang area (as defined by Wikipedia).” This 1027 military operation actually targeted these families in propaganda, accusing them of being highly involved in telecommunications. Fraudulent and supported by the Myanmar military junta.

But in fact, it is not accurate to simply understand local politics as family politics. Since the Kokang Region was officially established as an autonomous region in 2011, the institutional political power has actually fallen on the organization “Kokang Autonomous Region Administrative Committee (hereinafter referred to as the Kokang Administrative Committee)”.

Li Zhengfu, the chairman of the Kokang Management Committee (2021.2 – 2023.11, when the Myanmar military junta took over), who was replaced only after the 1027 military operation, was not from the four or five major families: the previous chairman (2016.4 – 2021.2, Aung San Suu Kyi During the democratically elected government led by Zhao Deqiang, he was related to the Liu (Guoxi) family, but after all, his surname was not Liu. The only person who can be said to be directly related to the four major families is the first official chairman (2011-2016.2) Bai Suocheng (2009-2011 chairman of the interim administrative committee).

Politically, the Kokang Autonomous Region uses a committee system to decentralize power, and the same goes for military power. The local armed forces in the hands of the Kokang people include militia brigade (Bai family), border defense camp (Wei family), and police camp (Ming family). The armed forces are dispersed and check and balance each other, but more importantly, this armed force How does the distribution of power come about?

This is about the 88 Incident in 2009 that changed the history of Kokang. At that time, Kokang was still the first special zone in Myanmar’s Shan State, enjoying a high degree of autonomy. Peng Jiasheng, known as the King of Kokang, was also the chairman of the special zone. The background of the incident is that the central government of Myanmar has continuously requested Peng Jiasheng to reorganize and downsize the Kokang Allied Forces into border defense battalions. This is to reduce the number of thousands of troops to about 200 and integrate them into the central force.

After this request was repeatedly rejected, the Myanmar central government requested entry into the Kokang military important area on August 8, 2009, on the pretext of inspecting drugs. Later, Peng Jiasheng was held accountable for privately manufacturing arms, which eventually evolved into a military conflict. As a result, the central government The army won, and the Peng family’s armed forces were defeated and left Kokang.

The high-ranking Kokang people who defected to the central government of Myanmar during the incident accepted the reorganization and downsizing of the central government of Myanmar and converted the remaining Kokang armed forces into border defense camps. These high-ranking Kokang people also became members of the later autonomous region government. During this period, the Kokang people had a high degree of autonomy, which led to today’s co-governance situation between Kokang and Burma. It was also the origin of the so-called four and five major families in Kokang later.

Also because today’s distribution of armed forces is the result of the negotiations between the Kokang and Myanmar, the Kokang people’s own armed forces have been greatly reduced. Compared with any armed force of the Kokang people, the Myanmar National Defense Forces stationed in the Kokang area are larger in number. There is an overwhelming advantage. Min Aung Hlaing, who led all of this, also had military exploits for instigating a rebellion against the top leaders of Kokang and allowing the Central Army to successfully enter the Kokang area. He began to stand out and eventually ascended to the top of power.

Also because the military garrison in the center of Myanmar has an absolute numerical advantage, the foundation of Kokang’s so-called “autonomy” is very weak and cannot be understood in a general sense.
Li Zhengfu, chairman of the Kokang Management Committee, took office on February 2, 2021 (the day after the military government took over state power). Not long after the start of this year’s 1027 military operation, his position as chairman of the Kokang Management Committee was already taken down on November 15. Replaced and replaced by a brigadier general from the military. On November 23, the Kokang Management Committee held a public meeting. If you look closely, you will see that no one from the four or five major families is qualified to attend and participate. The leaders of the Kokang clan have been completely excluded from the core of political power.

This direct takeover of political power by the military also occurred when the Kokang Allied Forces counterattacked Kokang in 2015. In short, the Myanmar government can take back political power at any time when necessary. This mode of operation cannot be understood from the perspective of family politics of the “four (five) major families”. The operation of the system is entirely in accordance with the provisions of the Myanmar Constitution.

Continue reading the story

The constitutional provisions here refer to Article 419 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar:
“The Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces who is vested with state power has the right to exercise legislative, executive and judicial powers. The Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces may exercise legislative powers personally or by institutions or agencies including himself. Executive and judicial powers It may be transferred to an appropriate institution or agency or individual for exercise.”

related news:

First-hand observation 1/Revealing the inside story of Myanmar’s military conflict The war does not only occur in northern Myanmar or the Kokang region

First-hand observation 2/The death of a Chinese undercover policeman, the burning of a truck, and the poison gas attack have expanded the military conflict in Myanmar

First-hand observation 3/Civilian remains exposed on the street!Charity groups dare not save Kokang after the Allied Forces took over and forced conscription

Ling Media original website:First-hand observation 4/Myanmar’s five major Kokang families who are not power holders have an overwhelming advantage in the number of people in the National Defense Forces

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