Fanciful predictions

I stumbled across a few predictions that U Kyaw Thet, who wrote in the February 1958 issue of The Atlantic (“Continuity in Burma: The survival of historic forces”) made about the Burmese military:

That is the position and growing strength of the armed forces. The army has acquitted itself well and contributes significantly to national morale. Its work does not stop with military operations against the insurgents. It is helping to integrate the frontier regions into the Union, and after the rebels are driven out of any given locality, the army sets in to rehabilitate it, organizing schools and building roads, bridges and hospitals. It has become the most disciplined and dedicated arm of the Union Government.
Is there a danger that the army, realizing its strength and prestige, might try to control the Government? Could Burma follow the familiar pattern of other small states where the military, in the name of the people, or efficiency, or national honor, have taken over complete control? I think this is most unlikely. In fact, there have been moments of crisis in the past decade when this could have happened and it has not. Today the armed forces of Burma work in complete harmony and partnership with the civilian leaders. The army chiefs feel themselves part of the team which has worked and fought together for thirty years to secure independence. None of them have displayed the egomania that would drive them to use the army as a tool for personal ambition. They are determined that the new Burmese army should be thoroughly democratic and imbued with the idea of service to the needs of the people.

That is the position and growing strength of the armed forces. The army has acquitted itself well and contributes significantly to national morale. Its work does not stop with military operations against the insurgents. It is helping to integrate the frontier regions into the Union, and after the rebels are driven out of any given locality, the army sets in to rehabilitate it, organizing schools and building roads, bridges and hospitals. It has become the most disciplined and dedicated arm of the Union Government.

Is there a danger that the army, realizing its strength and prestige, might try to control the Government? Could Burma follow the familiar pattern of other small states where the military, in the name of the people, or efficiency, or national honor, have taken over complete control? I think this is most unlikely. In fact, there have been moments of crisis in the past decade when this could have happened and it has not. Today the armed forces of Burma work in complete harmony and partnership with the civilian leaders. The army chiefs feel themselves part of the team which has worked and fought together for thirty years to secure independence. None of them have displayed the egomania that would drive them to use the army as a tool for personal ambition. They are determined that the new Burmese army should be thoroughly democratic and imbued with the idea of service to the needs of the people.

Sadly, we all know how the course of history played out in the years following 1958.

6 thoughts on “Fanciful predictions

    • Aung Kyaw says:

      I’m not sure he probably is, since he lectured at University of Rangoon during that time. The Atlantic says this about him: Dr. KYAW THET is Professor of Oriental history at the University of Rangoon. Of Burman-Mon-Chinese ancestry, he was born in 1921 in Rangoon, took his doctorate of London University, and later taught for two years in the Graduate School of Yale.

  1. Aung Zeya says:

    Yes, it’s the same Prof. Kyaw Thet from the video. His 1958 article may seem fanciful or even naive in hindsight. But Gen. Ne Win’s first caretaker government (1958-60) was generally considered a success. It restored order in the country when its parliamentary system was going through the growing pains. When the article was written in 1958, Burma was still a prosperous country in Asia despite having gone through 10 years of civil war. He had good reason to believe. Of course, history has proven him wrong. Ne Win liked being in power, and his return to power brought down the country.

  2. Hazel says:

    Hi, i came across your blog while doing a search on “does anyone speak burmese” and was brought to your
    blog.
    i do not speak this language therefore i need someone to teach me some phrases as i urgently need
    it to communicate it with a burmese lady who doesnt speak English.
    if you are willing to help me type out a few specific phrases that i need, please email me.

  3. estuu says:

    Hello Ko Aung Kyaw
    I hope you remember me on the Arakanese dialect article comments. Could you please contact me? My email address is submitted along with this comment.
    I look forward to your reply.
    Regards

  4. Wagaung says:

    Here’s a rare film footage on YouTube from the CIA Archives in the 1950s where Prof Kyaw Thet lecturing at Rangoon University @ 5.56 as well as the young PM U Nu explaining about Buddhism at the Shwedagon @ 13.10, and Dr Gordon Seagrave of the Burma Surgeon fame giving an interview in his OR at Namkham @ 26.41 could all be seen.

    Posted in July 2011 and thanks to friends who sent me the link. Never seen any of them in a film made at the time before. Enjoy.

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