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What Is Meant by Disciplined Democracy?

October 27th, 2010


The chief of Burma, military ruler Senior General Than Shwe, has
ensured that after the November 7th elections all the people of
Burma, including the many ethnic minorities, will be ruled by a
“disciplined democracy.” This disciplined democracy will in fact
only create more fear among the people of Burma.
What is meant by “disciplined democracy”? Discipline entails strict
rules and complex permissions and prohibitions. Disciplinary
procedures are common in the army in order to control soldiers and
maintain order. Democracy gives fundamental freedoms and basic
rights to citizens within a country. Discipline and democracy are
words that contradict each other. Thus, “disciplined democracy” in
Burma means that the fundamental freedoms and rights of the
Burmese people will be under control.
The duties of the people, therefore, are to vote for set political
parties in these upcoming elections, and to accept the 2008
Constitution in which they will be governed by “new” rulers; a mix
of military commanders with army uniforms and former military
commanders in civilian clothing.
After the November 7th elections, when the “new” government
applies this “disciplined democracy,” it [the new government] will
be like old wine in a new bottle. Under the disciplined democratic
system, the people, the media, civil society organizations, and the
academic community will be unable to exercise freedom of
expression against the new government’s policies, the corruption
among officials, worsening social and economic conditions, the civil
war, and human rights abuses. Freedom of association and
assembly and demonstrations or strikes against the government will
be completely prohibited, and those involved will be arrested and
detained according to oppressive laws and regulations under this
“disciplined democracy”. However, freedom of association to
support the new government will be allowed and supported with
funds.
The Burmese army (tatmadaw) will be absolutely backed by this
“new” government, modernizing and improving the tatmadaw by
equipping with new weapons and military facilities. The
government will increase spending on the defense sector, and the
civil war against the ethnic minority insurgents will be intensified.
The freedom of ethnic political voices and freedom of movement in
ethnic areas will be terminated by the regime.
The wider international community, including the United Nations,
United States, European governments, and ASEAN demands for
free, fair and inclusive elections. Also, the people in Burma have
openly demonstrated that they need a “liberal democracy.” From
the 1988 pro-democracy uprising to the 1990 general elections and
up until the 2007 saffron revolution, all walks of people in Burma
demonstrated their need for “liberal democracy”, but now, they will
be forced to accept a “disciplined democracy” against their will. The
Burmese military regime will not allow free, fair, and inclusive
elections for fear that a “disciplined democracy” would not be the
outcome.
The Burmese military regime has planned these November 7th
elections in order to create a “sham parliament”. The Union
Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), a proxy of the current
regime, including other minority political parties and military police
(MP) in the parliament, will win in a landslide. These elections will
result in the citizens of Burma being forced to abide by a “new”
government which will enforce a disciplined democracy where their
freedoms will be limited.
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