Monday, April 20, 2009

General Aung San Speeches

The Resistance Movement

Until the beginning of 1942, Burma remained under British Rule for so many decades. When Britain and France declared war against Germany in 1939, Burma also was declared to be a belligerent country by the Governor without consulting the Burma Legislature at all. Mr. Chamberlain declared then to the world that Britain was fighting for democracy and freedom or words to that effect. You will remember perhaps then that the Indian National Congress asked for the clarification of the British war aims-whether those aims applied to India at all. Burma also did similarly. At that time I was in what is popularly known as the Thakin Party or Dohbama Asi-ayone as it was officially styled and I was its General Secretary. After taking stock of the situation in our country and the world, we finally decided to form a Freedom Bloc of all parties desiring to strive for the emancipation of our country and for democratic freedom. I had also to act as Secretary of this Freedom Bloc for some time. This Freedom Bloc also declared its aim to be democratic freedom for which Britain was said to be fighting. We declared to the British Government- I am speaking from memory of course- that it would be consistent and proper for us to join the war for democratic freedom, only if we would likewise be assured that democratic freedom in theory as well as in practice. So we asked that beginning with the declaration of war, principles of democratic freedom should be applied in our case too. We demanded, I remember, Constituent Assembly for the framing of our constitution and certain transitional measures which I cannot properly recall to memory. The Burma Legislature as well as the legislature in India passed resolutions to this effect. But our voice went unheeded. To us then the war in Europe was plainly a war between two sets of imperialists and could have no appeal of any kind. We therefore finally resorted to an anti-imperialist, anti-war campaign. Even before this the Defence of Burma Ordinance had come out, meant to choke out even the meagre democratic liberties extant in Burma. Some of you who came out to the East only in this war for the first time may not know fully how our country was ruled by Britain before the war; so I should like to dwell upon this point at some length.

Burma was conquered by British imperialism in three Anglo-Burmese wars - the first in 1823, the second in 1852, and the third and last in 1885. I shall not here go into the question of whether British imperialism was justified in subjugating our country. Suffice it to say in the words of President Abraham Lincoln that no nation has the right to rule another nation. Anyway, Burma has since lost her sovereignty and independence.

Before the advent of British imperialism the system that prevailed in Burma was feudalism tinged with some patriarchal remains. The king who was the liege lord was the absolute monarch possessing land, water and even lives of his subjects. As was usual with feudal society, its economy was land economy. Population then was smaller than it is now, for one thing because it was a case with agricultural economy and for another thing because there were frequent civil wars among the various factions of feudal society or with neighbouring countries. At the same time there were vast patches of virgin land available for any family without land. The land system in those days, if my memory serves me alright, was of three kinds: Damaugya (i.e., freehold land, literally it means in whichever land your sword blade falls first, the tenure belongs to you); Bo-ba-baing (land inherited from one's sires), and Ayadaw (Stateland). So it was possible for every farming household to have land of its own, though some farmers might also be feudal serfs at the same time. The feudal aristocracy in those days was very fluid in its composition having no defined hereditary line of succession and accessible to all ranks of people, either learned or being direct followers of the King. And in those days, education was universal as it was imparted freely by Buddhist monks who were and still are to be found residing in monasteries in every village and every town in Burma. And anyone who became a bright scholar in those days might aspire to be a big member of the feudal aristocracy. The economic divisions of the feudal society were not therefore so sharply differentiated as in other countries. The humanising influence of Buddhism over all sections of the people; the fact of everyone possessing land of his own; the universality of free education for all, men and women; the co-operative basis of agricultural economy and village life in those days (for in those days in all matters, whether of cultivation or irrigation and what not, it required the co-operative effort of all in the community); the necessity for women to share the out-door economic life of their husbands and family jointly; the absence of large-scale trading - internal or external (agriculture then was purely for domestic consumption, each agricultural family being almost self-sufficient in the matter of foods and clothes with some cottage industries to add, and getting a few other things it needed by exchanging surplus produce of its own etc.,) which in turn accounted for the absence of a large trading class in feudal Burma; and also for lack of proper communications from place to place which again made centralised authority and control not so easy and not so tight; these and other factors combined to make, I think, Burmese feudalism to be perhaps the most enlightened of world feudalism. No doubt there were several harsh features of it - such as the absolute power of almost all feudal lords over the people in their respective jurisdiction (a feudal lord could kill a man with impunity), the scant value placed upon a man's life (a murderer could escape from the jaws of law if he could compensate to the aggrieved party with three hundred viss of silver, I think), the heavy penalty prescribed for any kind of offence (you could be punished with death for a very petty offence), the system of punishing the relatives and family of anyone who committed offence against the law of the established customs or who had incurred the displeasure of the high and mighty, the existence of debt salves and pagoda slaves, though small in number, who were treated as outcasts in every sphere of life and so on. These formed the harsh aspects of Burmese feudalism. However its redeeming features were the absence of deep-seated economic exploitation of one class over another, the establishment of universal literacy, the great amount of freedom of the Burmese womanhood unique in the East full of the harems, the purdahs, the small feet women and so on, and possibly of the West too in those days, the co-operative and self-sufficient character of feudal economy.

Now, when British came, much of this idyllic feudal economy was destroyed, but without being replaced by a better economic and social order logically. Thus, though many towns were created along the river banks and mining districts and at junctions of highways and communication lines etc., as trading, industrial and administrative centres and thus modern merchant and industrial economy appeared in towns, British imperialism deliberately retained feudal property relations in the country-side and the Shan states, in fact, on a much more aggravated system of exploitation. In order to help its exploitation thoroughly, it destroyed the universal system of education but made no attempt to educate the peasants along modern lines instead and thus keep them still in feudal agementally. Now, there is no longer universal literacy. According to 1931 census, literacy in Burma was said to be only 56 per cent for man, and 16.5 per cent for women. This was to be understood with qualification, for many relapsed into illiteracy almost because of lack of opportunities and facilities for reading and writing. Now, in fact, literacy must have been very much less then these quoted figures which represented the state of conditions only in 1931. British imperialism instead of abolishing the feudal system of administration such as Saw-bwas in Shan states and hereditary Thugyis in the country-side, it retained these effete systems of oppression, of course on a much more civilised scale to help collect taxes for imperialist bureaucracy and to act as its agents so as to strengthen the imperialist administration. But now more officials were brought to the villages and they acted pretty like tiny despots descending on the meagre incomes of the peasants by asking for free supply of peasants' poultry and eggs for their feasts and family use, and not unoften they might molest village girls and defile their virginity. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, British merchant capital and bank capital combined to commercialise and industrialise agriculture so as to enable them to trade in rice export with the world at large. Thus domestic agriculture or subsistence farming disappeared away and in its wake came the scrambles for land, cultivation for commercial profit and capitalist farming appeared for the first time in Burma, especially in Lower Burma. The introduction of capitalist farming destroyed the co-operative system of agriculture and fostered instead the idea of competition. At the same time, it brought in the banks, the merchants, the brokers, the usurers (the Chettiars) etc., who concert with imperialist bureaucracy conspired to break the backs of the peasantry in a systematic manner. Thus the peasant's economy was tied to the apron-strings of British finance and merchant capital. Henceforward it was exposed and liable to all fluctuations of world capitalist development. At the same time, village industry was destroyed before the competition of manufactured goods of British industrial capital and also forcibly. Thus, the life of the peasant and his economy were constantly exposed to the machinations and oppressions of all forces, economic, social and natural - the big banks, the big merchants, the usurers, the middlemen, the local officials, the elements etc. At the same time, the peasant's standard of living rose up higher because of the penetration of modern capitalist economy into his domain and the greater incidence of taxation apart from the retention of old feudal system of taxation such as capitation and Thathameda Tax added to the peasant's burden. Moreover, additional weights were placed on his back, such as rack-rent, recurring debt due to exorbitant rates of interest etc. Consequently lands passed away from his hands into the hands of usurers, brokers, traders, officials living in towns and thus a class of absentee landlords appeared and with it a class of landless proletariat was at the same time created. Part of the landless proletariat together with the village artisans pauperised by the ruthless process for capitalist commerce introduced with the British imperialist rule migrated to towns and Lower Burma and became industrial and agricultural proletariat whose number was ever growing and had to labour under several conditions of difficulties in the mills, factories and mines and other capitalist concerns. The absentee landlords have absolutely no interest in the improvement of their lands. Their interest was only to get rent at the expense of their agricultural tenants and labourers. Occasionally they might visit their lands, but such visits were more in the nature of hunting and holiday excursions than business tours, and they were more interested in village girls and good feasts and hunting than proper business. Thus we see the deepening economic exploitation of the peasantry in modern times. Of course the powers of local officials were legally limited and therefore could not take away a man's life capriciously. But even then our local officials, landlords and middle-men with the assistance of the law courts and the police could conspire to take away the life of any man they do not desire legally or illegally as the case might be. Where in olden times absolute power ruled ruthlessly, now economic power ruled with an equal ruthlessness. Imperialist bureaucracy, instead of protecting the peasants against the dangers of elements such as floods, famine, drought, cyclones, against unfair manipulation of prices of agricultural produce by merchant and bank capital, against rack-renting, usury, extortion and tyranny of local officials acted as the appendage of the serried ranks of banks, business and money bags. The police, the courts of justice, the civil and criminal laws of the land as well the revenue organisation combined to break the backs of the peasants systematically and of course "legally." That accounted for the frequent occurrence of dacoities, rebellions and riots in this country.

The reactions of the people in Burma against the impact of British imperialism were at first in the form of blind instinctive spontaneous uprisings against foreign rule unrelated to the world developments abroad. They were mostly peasants' revolts. Thus there had been several rebellions in this country against British imperialism since the time of the first Anglo-Burmese War. After the first Anglo-Burmese War, Arakan and Tenasserim had to be ceded to the British. At that time the natives in Arakan and Tenasserim tried to protest against the British rule. In Tenasserim, for instance, a rebellion broke out. After the second Anglo-Burmese War also, about 6000 natives in the Delta fought on against the British for two years more or so. And after the third Anglo-Burmese War too, people in several parts of the country under various local leaders resisted the British for five years or so. Since then at frequent intervals there were rebellions, the most well known being the Tharrawaddy rebellion of 1930-32. But there was also a more conscious nationalist movement which developed out of the post-war conditions of the First World War, the leadership being taken up by the native bourgeois and petti-bourgeois classes. The proletariat also came into existence as a class at that time. We then witnessed the first countrywide students' strike, the railway workers' strike, the oil field strike and so on. Some sort of a Trade Union Movement grew up, though not so strong and though not countrywide and solely under reformist petti-bourgeois leadership.

The system of British rule in Burma proceeded along three stages roughly: first it was a naked rule of Bureaucracy, later what's called dyarchy was introduced, and lastly since 1937, a glorified form of dyarchy was adopted; in all cases bureaucracy remained in control though more liberal and greatly more camouflaged behind a thin democratic facade. British Imperialism however played a certain progressive role in the development of the country at the start. In order to facilitate its commerce and control, it opened up a network of railways, highways etc. This enabled the people in Burma in some measure to move about in the country much more freely and frequently and had the advantage of knowing one another and fostering a common bond of national solidarity. And in order to help its administration and commerce, British imperialism needed an intermediate class of natives who were to act as minor officials, clerks and middlemen etc. This class was drawn from the remnants of the old feudal aristocracy, rising tradesmen and middle class of the towns, and so on. This class was given some modern education and thus was supplied by British imperialism itself with its own elements of political and general education. Thus a measure of modern education was introduced in Burma and to that extent the people in Burma, especially the middle class, were able to benefit by it. Part of this middle class became rich and joined the British imperialist side as officials, rice-millers, brokers, merchants, money lenders, absentee landlords etc. But as time went on, British imperialism could not take in many of the rising native middle class either in its administrative fold or under its patronage. Moreover when the World War I came, British had to promise "progressive realisation of responsible self-government as an integral part of the British Empire" to her colonies as a reward for their participation in the war. And after the war, that promise remained to be redeemed and also the enormous economic and social effect of the war were telling upon the people, especially the middle class. But the middle class was then faced with the formidable opposition of British imperialist bureaucracy which was supported by a part of the upper rung of the middle class. So they had to take to the masses though somewhat nervously and thus the first organised national movement on a mass scale came to exist in Burma. At that time politics seemed to be a subject of taboo, it was highly frowned upon by imperialists as well as conservative upper middle class. I suppose there were hardly any democratic liberties in those days. People had to move very very cautiously either in their speeches or writing or action. In those days anyone who dared to walk side by side with a Britisher or look at him boldly or sit on the same floor with him or go in to his presence with his footgear on was supposed to be a very brave man. When Rev. Ottama who was the Buddhist priest - leader of those days thundered - "Craddock, go back!" to Sir Reginald Craddock who was the Lt. Governor of Burma at the time, all people thrilled to the marrow of their bones to hear such a bold talk from their brave leader.

Thus nationalist movement grew in Burma and even though it might undergo several vicissitudes, its flame has ever since been kept alive in one form or another. British imperialism in response to the pressure of the nationalist movement doled out more and more constitutional reforms and civil liberties but they remained on the surface and did not go deep. The moment it felt that the people had exceeded their bounds, out British imperialism came in its naked true colours. Repressive and callous measures were taken. Thus we had passed under the regime of ordinances even before the war. Thus we had been imprisoned without trial. I myself had that experience. Thus a students' demonstration was charged with the batons by the police and this incident gave rise to quite a large spontaneous movement of students, workers, peasants on strike in protest in 1938-39 (before that, in 1936 too there had been a countrywide students' strike and oil field strikes later). In that movement another demonstration in Mandalay was fired upon by the military forces of British imperialism. And so on.

That was how British imperialism ruled us before the war. When the war came, and, as I have said, when we were led to launch an anti-imperialist, anti-war campaign because British imperialism failed to apply principles of democratic freedom in our country though they professed such principles to the world outside for which they said they were fighting the war, we were at once visited with all sorts of imperialist repression. Several of our members were clapped in jail, some after trial and others without trail. In fact all important leaders of the party to which I belonged and who with me together formed sort of the only left forces in Burma genuinely anti-fascist (we were responsible for whatever anti-fascist Left propaganda we could disseminate in our country before the war; we tried to arouse the interests of the people in Burma in the struggle of democracy against fascism such as in China and Spain but at that time British imperialism was on the side of Fascism covertly or overtly as you know quite well), all these important leaders were arrested. I was also to be arrested. But as you all know perhaps, I went underground. Then almost accidentally we were informed by Dr. Ba Maw and Dr. Thein Maung who were in the Freedom Bloc at that time that we could, if we desired, get Japanese help. The question of whether we should accept Jap help was discussed. It was then felt by many that at least international propaganda was necessary for our cause and if any international help might be further secured, it might be better. And we all agreed that to attempt to get such things was impossible inside Burma. Some of us must go either to China or Siam or Japan for that matter. We chose China first because we had some contacts there. But then the China - Burma Road had to be closed for three months after the fall of France in 1940 according to the demand of the Japanese Government. Personally though I felt that international propaganda and assistance of our cause was necessary, the main work, I thought, must be done in Burma which must be the mobilisation of the masses for the national struggle. I had a rough plan of my own - a country-wide mass resistance movement against British imperialism on a progressive scale, so to speak, co-extensive with international and national developments in the form of series of local and partial strikes of industrial and rural workers leading to general and rent strike finally, also all forms of militant propaganda such as mass demonstrations and people's marches leading finally to mass civil disobedience, also economic campaign against British imperialism in the form of boycott of British goods leading to the mass non-payment of taxes, to be supported by developing guerilla action against military and civil and police outposts, lines of communication etc., leading finally to the complete paralysis of the British administration in Burma when we should be able along with developing world situation to make the final and ultimate bid for the capture of power. And I counted then upon the coming over the troops belonging to the British Government to our side - particularly the non-British sections. In this plan I also visualised the possibility of Jap invasion of Burma - but here I had no clear vision, (all of us at the time had no clear view in this respect though some might now try to show themselves, after all the events, to have been wiser than others: in fact you might remember it was a time when I might say the Left forces outside China and the U.S.S.R. were in confusion almost everywhere). As I have said, I couldn't think out clearly. I just said in my plan - we would try to forestall Jap invasion, set up our own independent State and would try to negotiate with Japan before it came into Burma; only when we could not stop Japan's coming into Burma, then we should be prepared to resist Japan.

This was a very grand plan of my own - but it had no appeal to many of my comrades because our petti-bourgeois origin made several of us hesitant before any decisive action even though we might think and talk bravely, also it made us impatient with the seemingly prolonged and difficult work of arousing the masses; and most of us even though we might talk about mass action and mass struggle were not so convinced of its efficacy. We had no faith in the creative power of the masses though of course we were not conscious of this at the time. Thus I was questioned how it would be possible to wage guerilla action when we had absolutely no arms in our hands. My reply was - if even dacoits could somehow manage to get arms (in Burma sometimes a big dacoit gang might be nearly like a guerilla force of a hundred or so or may be even more) why should not and could not we? This however was unconvincing to my comrades. So we decided that someone of us must go outside for this purpose. And as I was the only one leading an underground existence, I was chosen for this task. At that moment the Jap offer through Dr. Ba Maw and company came. After some hesitation we accepted it - but we were disappointed. For the Japs somehow or other postponed the matter - later we came to hear from another source that Japs were rather nervous to accept our offer of "alliance" if I can call such thing “alliance,” as they thought we were Bolsheviks! But then we didn't wait for the Japs to come round. I was sent out to China and given a blank cheque by my comrades to do what I thought best for our country. As the Burma-China road was closed, I had to go to China by sea and that, even though insignificant in itself, caused our later association with the Japs. I couldn't reach the interior of China by sea. I was told I could reach only Amoy and then would have to rely upon my own resourcefulness to get into the interior of China, Well, I tried to do that. While doing so at Amoy (actually I was putting up in the International Settlement known as Kulangsu Island), my friends in Burma got into contact again with the Japs. So I and my assistant finally found ourselves in Tokyo.

In Tokyo I had to make the best of a bad job. Before I went out from Burma I had read some books about Japan. I was a bit apprehensive though I consoled myself with the thought that most of the anti-Jap stuffs in some books were more propaganda then actual facts. Anyway, my first impression was not so bad even though misgivings still didn't leave me. The Japs I contacted were very nice and courteous and easy quite like our race. Everything about them was spick and span. They were very industrious and patriotic. There was nothing objectionable in these things. When we arrived in Tokyo (I think, it was 12th November 1940), Japan was having a grand celebration of the 2600th anniversary of the Jap Empire. The next day after our arrival, we were taken before the Imperial Palace and bowed in its direction just as several Jap men, women and children did. Well, we did not also think much about this. This just showed the respect in which the Emperor and though I did not believe like the Japs in the divinity of the Emperor and though I do not like monarchy, whatever its form may be. When I bowed to the Imperial Palace, I did so only out of courtesy and with no intention of becoming his subject.

Now business began and also incidentally I came to know more of the Japanese, especially Jap militarism. Before I talk to you how Japs did their business with us, I would tell you my first discoveries about Japanese civilisation. After two or three days' stay in Tokyo, we were taken to a country hotel. By the way I forgot to tell you that my “host” was Colonel Suzuki though at the time he was a civilian incognito and he introduced himself to me as Mr. Minami, Chief Secretary, Japan-Burma Society when we were received by him at Tokyo aerodrome. Col. Suzuki asked us at that country hotel if we would like to take any woman. (I was up to that time a hundred percent bachelor). We were abashed to hear it and we replied "No." Col. Suzuki said in his own words as far as I can remember, "There is no shame. It is like taking a bass(bath); there is a women's quarter here." We thanked him but declined to enjoy ourselves in that manner. "So", I thought to myself, "have they the intention to demoralise us first?" When we were back at Tokyo again also, we were taken to such quarters but as we told Col. Suzuki and company that we felt rather tired after the journey and wanted to go back to our hotel and sleepy there only, we were sent back to our hotel. And since that second refusal, until I came back to Burma secretly, we were no more taken to any women's quarters. But to go back to the country hotel. As Col. Suzuki for the first time talked to us about the women's quarter, we somehow came to know personally something we had read in books about Japanese women. I discovered immediately another confirmation. A young waitress of about sixteen who was a palpably simple unsophisticated girl before whom any decent man would hesitate to talk about such matters came to serve us tea just at the moment Col. Suzuki was talking. Col. Suzuki instead of stopping the talk even asked the girl where the women's quarter was. It gave us a mild shock; this was a thing to which we had not been accustomed before. Perhaps we were too prudish! In the next few days we shifted to another country hotel in another village, and there we saw more of the treatment towards womenfolk in Japan. Well, to cut my story short, before I talk about our business with the Japs, I shall give you only two more instances of Jap mentality. Once while eating something at a restaurant, a Korean was also present. We did not know he was a Korean - but Col. Suzuki raised one of his hands and showed his fingers to us and asked us if we understood the meaning. We replied "No.” Then he said, "This was to show our contempt for the Koreans. Whenever we saw a Korean, we showed like this. My father, whenever he found a Korean, drove him away." We at once came to understand why Koreans wanted independence and how Japs treated them! Another instance Col. Suzuki was talking, playing upon our anti-British sentiments several times. In one of his talks he told me of his younger days in the period of the first World War when he was serving at Vladivostock how he killed Russian civilians living in a cottage, including all men, women and children. "Similarly," he turned to me, "you must kill all British, including, women and children.” Though I was very anti-British at that time, I must confess I was not prepared for so much barbarity. To the credit of Col. Suzuki, I must say that he noticed and later acknowledged our delicacy in this respect.

Well now our business began. Col. Suzuki first spoke to me sometimes flatteringly, sometimes threateningly and tried to probe my character for some days. And all along the Japs wanted to know why it was that I came out to China and whether I was a Communist or what attitude we had towards the "China Incident.” I tried to answer as much as I could, without revealing much and yet without falsehood. I told everyone who asked me that I came out to China because we wanted international help; to the question whether I was a Communist, my answer was that I did not believe in imposition of any foreign system upon a country and that I thought we must study all systems in the world and must adapt the best of them to our own conditions and that whatever objection we might have towards Communism, its planned economy was admirable and was imitated even by other countries including Japan and so on. To the question of our attitude towards the "China Incident" I pointed out that we were more concerned with our national struggle and whoever opposed our enemy was our friend. Except in the case of this last answer, I did not think that the Japs were any near satisfaction with my replies; from the first to the last they had clearly misgivings about me, I on my part told the Japs whenever I had chance a to, that I did not want to hide my patriotism and that I associated with them because I wanted to do something good for my country with their help and that I wanted to be a true ally, if it was possible for me to be. To the credit of the Japs, I must say here quite a lot of them respected my patriotism. According to Dr. Ba Maw, Lt. General Iida the first Japanese Commander-in-Chief in Burma told him that the whole Jap army in Burma respected me for three things. (1) I have no love of money; (2) I have no love of power; (3) I have no love of personal life. Another Japanese was reported to have said to some of my colleagues: "Aung San is straight. If Japs are straight like him, he is alright. But if Japs no straight, he is most dangerous. And unfortunate thing is the Jap policy is not so straight." That was that. Anyway, to go back to my story, Col. Suzuki first told me a plan and he asked me to write it in English. I innocently wrote it down thinking that I would have to discuss it later. But that plan was never discussed. That plan mentioned something about limited invasion of Burma in the Shan States. But I somehow tried to say something about it to his assistant that it was purely a military plan. Judging from later events, I think Col. Suzuki took that plan to Tokyo General Staff and perhaps showed it as my plan. This plan however was revised without the invasion part and given finally to me in a more complete form to be communicated with my comrades in Burma. I brought it back to Burma secretly, met my comrades and explained it to them. At that time my comrades were very eager to know when Japan would invade Burma. I was a bit taken a back because I didn't very much like the idea of the Japanese invasion of Burma. What my comrades thought was that if Burma was invaded by the Japs, the British would be inter-locked with the Japs on the border when we would get a chance to rise up successfully for our independence. Though I was not exactly convinced of this way of thinking, at that time I felt perhaps my comrades were right. It is now easy of course after all these happenings to ridicule this way of thinking. But at that time not only we but even the British and perhaps several people in the world under-estimated the Japs and over-estimated the British position at that time. And, as I have told you, our petti-bourgeois origin subconsciously influenced our thinking to good extent; we wanted to be so sure of our chances; we did not want to take too many risks upon ourselves. And that was how we invited Japanese invasion of Burma, not by any pro-fascist leanings but by our naïve blunders and petti-bourgeois timidity.

Anyway, to continue my story, the Japanese from the first broke almost all promises that they gave us. It will be too long for me to enter into these things in this talk. Suffice it to say that their faithlessness and hypocrisy as well as our growing practical knowledge of their reactionary outlook and behaviour and their high-handedness turned us all anti-Jap if any of us had not been anti-Jap before, even while we were in Japan receiving military training. We were twenty-seven in number, if we excepted the two who did not properly associate themselves with our sentiments and who did not join our B.I.A. when finally it was formed. In fact on one occasion during my absence in Tokyo, the twenty-six others, at the instigation of one of the above two for his own personal reasons, were about to rise up against the Japs there and then (they were then in Southern Formosa) with whatever weapons they could get hold of. Luckily I arrived from Tokyo in Formosa in time to prevent it.

Well to cut the long story short, I had, before that, just when I was in Siam, already written to my comrades in Burma not to rely upon outside help, thereby giving a broad hint of the unreliability of the Japs. Further when we organised the first nucleus of the B.I.A. in Siam, and also before that occasion, I sent two batches of our military comrades to prepare against the Japs too. My plan then was, since the Jap invasion was an inevitable reality, forestall it if we could to encounter it with the accomplished fact of an independent Burma, so that it would not be necessary for us to get our independence blessed by the Japs. Failing this, my next plan was to have a mass movement with its underground part prepared which could prevent the Japs from consolidating its position in Burma and force the Jap Fascists to restrain their hands to a good extent and thus, in that way, to alleviate the sufferings of our people. I saw here the role of the B.I.A., and thus I consoled myself and also all my other comrades who shared my doubts and misgivings that after all even if Japs turned false and bad there was an army to give something back against the Japs. But again I was disappointed; my comrades inside Burma could not prepare much against the Japs. Events moved too swiftly, all important leaders were still in Jail and many were still vacillating, true to their petti-bourgeois character.

Now we occupied Rangoon. All along we had been very unhappy about the Japs' behaviour towards our people. We protested as much as we could to some Jap authorities but in vain. Clashes between our soldiers and Jap soldiers mounted. Up to Rangoon I was not given command of our troops. I was just Col. Suzuki's Senior Staff Officer. Then we hatched amongst ourselves various plans for anti-Jap uprising but everything was in confusion, all our comrades were not gathered together and we had almost no preparations of any kind at all. And suddenly I was called by Col. Suzuki and given command of the troops and ordered to proceed to Upper Burma taking the west side of the Irrawaddy. So I marched up to Upper Burma with the troops. Then I heard some information about difference of views amongst the Thakins inside prison regarding what should be our attitude toward the Japs. In some cases even honest comrades of ours did not know what attitude they should have at all, since their valued comrades were apparently on the Japanese side. But if only our real conditions and attitude could be known to all, I don't think this confusion would have taken place then. As it was, however, confusion reigned in the ranks of the Left forces in Burma. Then we reached Shwebo and there I heard for the first time that three members of the Left forces (Thakin Soe, Thakin Mya Thwin and Ko Thein Pe, now in Calcutta) went along with the Chinese troops. This was a heartening news to us - but later we heard about the failure of this arrangement to our disappointment. Our troops were then ordered to proceed right up to Bhamo. But by that time the operations were all over, so I just ordered the troops to go up leaving Col. Zeya who is my chief of Staff now to command them. Incidentally I must tell you here that during my absence as our troops went up to Bhamo, Col Zeya and my headquarters Staff had clashes with some Jap unit. Col. Zeya and some others were arrested and beaten for some time as one Jap Officer received a sword cut. Luckily due to the intervention of one Jap liaison officer with us, Col. Zeya and others were released; otherwise our troops would have then and there fought against the Japs. Before I came down we even considered the possibility of entering China to join the Chinese side when we reached Bhamo. We were so disgusted with the Japs. I came back to Mandalay in order to know the rear conditions which were in charge of my then Chief of Staff, now my deputy Col. Hla Pe (Let Yar). I came down with Col. Ne Win who is now in charge of the field troops on the Sittang front. When I went up near Yinmabin in Monywa district I met Thakin Than Tun, General Secretary of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League now, on the way and gave him a hint about conditions in Burma though I couldn't tell him all as I was in a hurry and there were strangers about. I had then left Col. Let Yar at Pakokku to go up to Mandalay and contact all Left comrades of ours so that we could take stock of the situation in the country together and decide what we should do. But when I came back Wuntho and Kawlin in Katha district with Col. Ne Win, things were in confusion and Japanese Military Police terror reigned supreme. It was then that for the first and last time during the Jap time we met Ko Thein Pe in Shwebo, and we three came together with another friend to Mandalay. But at Amarapura near Mandalay, our friend Ko Thein Pe was forced to go underground as Japanese Military Police were furiously on his trail. Another comrade of ours with the same name was arrested instead by JMP. He was tortured for several days and finally was released because of our pressure. Before him two other members of our movement succumbed to the Jap torture.

Well, to cut the long story short still further, a Burma Civil Administration was formed under the Japanese Military Administration. B.I.A. was reorganised into B.D.A. and I was made its commander with the rank of Colonel. Then a case happened. A certain judge of the British days who happened to be on the Peace Preservation Committee in Kyaukse was arrested by JMP because some telephone wire cords were, I think, found on his premises according to the information of somebody bearing ill-will towards that judge, which must apparently be given to JMP. That man was arrested and according to that man's forced confession (because we knew even before we learnt it from that man himself that he was not at all the man who would do such things that were charged against him) the JMP through one Lt. Col. Fukui who was then in charge of what's called "War Preparation Bureau" (a sort of defence bureau) which was to arrange for the maintenance of our troops informed me that Col. Let Yar and his adjutant Captain (then Lt.) Ba Tin conspired with the afore-said Judge to raise an anti-Jap movement. This was a fantastic fabrication; even though it was true that we harboured anti-Jap sentiments and were intending to rise up against them, this particular case was absolutely false and fabricated. Then I in my innocence told Col. Fukui that this was not true and that if they did not believe it they could question Col. Let Yar and his assistant. But the Japs thought wiser. Col. Let Yar was left behind. Only Ba Tin was taken away, as I understood it, for interrogation. But days passed, he did not come back. I inquired repeatedly about him from Col. Fukui, then I lodged a protest with the Jap Headquarters and some of my comrades too went and pressed the then JMP commander, and finally after about two months or so Ba Tin was released. He was tortured for some days and when he came out he was still nervous. But he remained alive, as later he was not tortured perhaps because he belonged to B.D.A. and because of our repeated inquiries about him.

Then in March 1943 I was informed suddenly that I was invited to Tokyo along with Dr. Ba Maw and two others (Gen. Tojo by then had declared that a Burma State would be created soon or words to that effect) and that I was promoted to the rank of Major-General. I was also told that I would have an audience with the Jap Emperor and would be decorated as well. So I went to Tokyo, along with three other chief guests, accompanied by our suite. There as told, we had an audience with the Jap Emperor, were decorated with appropriate decorations, met Gen. Tojo and his Cabinet Ministers, Army and Navy officials, were treated to banquets everywhere and came back to Burma carrying a document given by Gen. Tojo which said that Burma would be granted independence on August 1, 1943 and that we were to conclude certain treaties and so forth. During that trip we were escorted by one Major-General Isomura who was Deputy Chief of Staff of the Jap Army in Burma. He made his presence felt all the time to us and it was as if we were all his children, and we were subjected to numerous petty restrictions on the way. On our way back we had to stop at Manila for one day. We put up at the Manila Hotel and were asked not to go out as the Fillipinos were not reliable and so forth. Then next morning we flew to Saigon. But when we arrived there, Dr. Ba Maw remembered that he had left General Tojo's document in the Manila Hotel. At once the fact was intimated to Isomura who then talked as if he would have to commit suicide. When a suggestion was made to him to wire to Jap Army Hqrs in Manila, he said that it would not be enough, he and Dr. Ba Maw would have to go back; but actually Thakin Mya who was Dr. Ba Maw's Deputy then and Col. Uyeda had to go back to Manila to search for it. But that same evening a wireless message came from Manila stating that the document had been found in the hotel. Still Thakin Mya and Uyeda had to go to fetch it. Later we were informed that we were not to breathe a word of this when we arrived back in Burma, because Isomura had reported (I don't know where) that we had to stop at Saigon for a day more owing to the engine trouble of the plane. To us all such fuss and fib was incomprehensible. Anyway independence duly came on August 1, 1943. But we have no illusions about it. I suppose all who had been members of the Independence Preparatory Commission had no illusions about it, even though they might not dare to speak out, because there they had been told how the Independence to be like. After my return from Tokyo at a welcome party, I spoke hinting very very broadly that the coming independence was only nominal. And so I told my comrades and we thought of the advisability of rising up against the Japs so as to expose this whole game of bluff and at the same time to show to the world our genuine anti-fascist colour beyond all doubt. So we met again in Thakin Than Tun's residence, and decided that after due preparations we should rise up. We thought then that our preparations would be finished by the end of 1943 but actually they proved to be much longer as events have now shown. At that time anti-Jap underground activities were isolated and uncoordinated. We had no definite plan and programme. We had no contact as yet with some of our comrades in China and India. We had to tackle the problems of supplies, transport and communications which had to be prepared ahead; we had yet to mobilise the people whom we knew would lend ready assistance to us; we had yet to mobilise them around a definite anti-Jap platform. We had to foresee every possible retaliatory measure with which the Japs might visit innocent people of our country and to perfect our counter-measures and so on. We had to prepare a lot of things. Then our friend Ko Thein Pe from India sent his man back to Burma. He asked if some of us could come over to India. But that was impossible. We had not yet made much highway with the anti-Jap movement. And if any important leader amongst us was missing the Japs would, we thought, round up all of us or subject all of us to such close watch by JMPs who, of course, were though watching us at the time were not very strict so that we would not be able practically to do anything against the Japs. We however sent along one of our comrades Nyo Tun who later organised the anti-Jap struggle in Arakan successfully. Then in the beginning of August, I think 4th-7th August in Pegu, after months of exchange of views, Communist representatives and I met together, discussed and approved my proposal for the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League and its first manifesto draft and evolved a plan of action together. Then AFPFL was broaden as far as conditions at the time permitted, another more emissary from India came, this time the emissary being one of the soldiers belonging to our troops captured by the Wingate Expeditions in Northern Burma, and yet more and more emissaries, several of whom we sent from the inside belonging to Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League, civil and military members being most of them hunted rebels of JMPs for the murder of some Japs. So we went on till the Allied Forces advanced near Mandalay. Before that U Pyinnya Thi Ha and Nyo Tun had organised an insurrection in Arakan. Similarly we instructed our units near Mandalay to rise locally against the Japs. Then on the 27th March we took to general uprising against the Japs as all the worlds has known.

The Japs were very suspicious of us from the very beginning. When I became Defence Minister in the so-called independent Government of Burma, they sent away our troops to various fronts with no means of inter-communication with us. When I wanted to visit them, they somehow or other tried to dissuade me from doing so. However I did not bother. I had my own plans which could be executed whichever way. So at first Japs dissected our troops into several sections and groups without proper training and equipment and dispersed them wide over the country. I just looked on, for if I gave my opinion, as they asked us to give my opinion frankly which was their usual trick, they always did just the opposite of what I said, good or bad. So whenever they asked my opinion about any proposal of their own, I readily agreed with it, since I could plan whichever way against them. The Japs then thought better perhaps and again tried to concentrate our troops in few places - to which also I agreed. In short I okayed all their proposals and plans in whichever way, I could plan the action against them. Only certain preparations were needed - particularly some preliminary preparation of the masses for the final action and the counter-measures against the possible Jap retaliations upon innocent people.

I shall not go into enumeration of what our Patriotic Burmese Forces and guerillas have done and achieved as my time is short. We hope to issue an account of these things in greater detail in due course. Altogether our forces must have fought not less than one thousand engagements with the enemy. I can now say that our forces dare take their position beside any force in the world so far as guerilla warfare is concerned. Burmans are so to speak traditionally guerilla-minded. In the 13th century when Kublai Khan and his Tartar hoardes swooped down upon the tottering Pagan dynasty, the Burmese troops on heavier elephants and only clever at spears and swords could not stand before Kublai Khan's horsed archers. So they resorted to scorched earth policy, mass evacuation of the civilians and guerilla action as they retreated southward, so that ultimately Kublai Khan was forced to withdraw from Burma as he could no longer get supplies ad so forth. Similarly when in the 17th century anarchy was rampant throughout the country as a result of the military adventures of the Mons from southern Burma, Alaungpara tried to reintegrate our nation. He was at first a guerilla chieftain along with many others of his kind in different parts of the country and finally they combined to form one strong national state and thus achieve complete national solidarity. I have told you in this rambling talk about the guerilla actions of several patriots in the past against British imperialism. Now the war is over, and we have also achieved a complete national solidarity mobilised behind the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League. All are now united-united I say, to march together to our common goal of freedom. In conclusion I should like to read out to you a message from General Sir Montagu Stopford, (Commander of 12th Army) which I received today and also some portions of my speech delivered at a lunch last Sunday, which was attended by some of the high-ranking officers of the Allied Forces.

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From GOC-in-C, Twelfth Army 281730.

To Commander, PBF.

GR 104 BT.

01623. Now that the Japanese have accepted terms for the surrender of their armies in Burma, I wish to thank and congratulate you and all ranks on the part which the P.B.F. has played in the final stages of the liberation of your country. Your co-operation with the regular forces has contributed affectively to the heavy casualties that have been recently inflicted on the Japanese. I trust that the spirit of patriotism which has inspired all ranks to help their country against the Japanese aggressor will be further exemplified by their desire to safeguard it in the future as members of the Burma Army.

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On behalf of the Patriotic Burmese Forces and Guerillas I should like to thank you very much for the several good things that you have spoken in appreciation of the services that we rendered in the cause of our country and the Allied Nations. It is a recognition, I need hardly mention to you, which I and all members of our troops feel highly honoured and proud to have been accorded. As you are aware, there can be no doubt that our Forces have acted all along, I make bold to claim, to have earned the adjective "Patriotic" deservedly. It may be that at first we began at the wrong end; it may be that we committed some mistakes in the past; it may be that certain individuals among us went wrong. But this I can say, and say in all honesty and sincerity, that we have never even for once swerved from the path of honour and patriotism. Even on the record of our association with the Japanese, I and my colleagues dare stand in all honesty, for we did nothing that is not honourable, just or patriotic. Inspite of the fact that we dislike the Japanese militarism and barbaric treatment meted out towards our people from the very beginning, we exercised judicious patience and forbearance with them, though from the first they showed clearly that they were breaking every solemn pledge they had given us covertly or overtly. So far as we were concerned we meant to perform our part of the transaction in a desire to be true to the alliance that we had struck up. But it was the Japanese themselves who prevented us doing so. They not only were faithless and hypocritical with us, but they also put us in a position unable to discharge any obligation arising from the transaction with them, because they gave us only a shadow and mockery of independence, because they maltreated our people in every imaginable way; because they took away the best of almost every thing that our people had, because they made the existence of the most elementary democratic rights and liberties in our country impossible, because they failed to equip our forces, or allow us to organise, train, and equip our forces properly, while at the same time they showed themselves incapable of defending our country. It was not because they had no time for preparation. Three years is quite sufficient period for the preparation of a country's defence if only the spirit had been willing. In these three years Britain could expand her forces and equip them infinitely much stronger than the state of her defence at the beginning of this war. In these three years tiny Yugoslavia build up her fighting strength and prowess almost on nothing. In fact in every war, in every revolution, not excluding even the case of Japan, there have been several instances of how a country can produce from almost nothing a strength of her own in an extremely short time strong enough to defend herself in a worthy manner, if not a successful manner. Instead, they covered themselves up with all sorts of shallow arguments against our infantilism, and on such plea, they did not allow us to strengthen ourselves, not to speak of giving their due assistance to us in this respect, though they took almost everything from our people on the specious pretext of military necessity, and though myriads of our people had to slave under all conditions of miseries imposed by forced labour and inflated poverty for the feeding and operation of their crushing war-machine.

In such circumstances, we had no alternative but to turn our weapons against them as true patriots of our land and as lovers of Justice. When thus we turned upon the Japs, we did so with our eyes open, knowing fully well that the Allied Forces might not be able to come to our rescue in time, having no mistaken notion about the possible music of our action, and carrying no spirit of bargain or opportunism whatsoever in our action. We got no promises from the Allied Forces, nor did we ask for any of them. We fight on their side because we believe their cause is on the whole just; because we believe their cause on the whole serves the good of humanity; because we believe they are heading towards a new world of freedom and peace, only in which our country can have and maintain her freedom in security; and, of course, because we believe in all peoples of the world including the British and our own.

We have thus fought, and fought quite gallantly, no doubt, as all the world had witnessed. Taken altogether, we have killed not less than twenty thousand Japs and captured quite a considerable number of war prisoners. I might mention to you the most significant of several significant acts that our troops were able to achieve, namely, the success of our troops in having been able to wipe out practically all important officer of the 54th Japanese Division, including one Japanese Lt. General and two Major-Generals. In that action our troops obtained quite a number of important documents which were later handed over to the Allied Forces. I am just singling out a spectacular case, but there are also many other instance in which the action of our troops had gone a long way to facilitate the success of military operations in Burma. I shall not, however, dwell upon them here as my time is short. I shall just content myself with saying; we have done our bit which we owe to our country and the world, and we have done it in sincere comradeship with all Allied Forces. I shall, and we should, by no means minimise the invaluable services that all Allied troops in Burma have contributed in the liberation of our country. We are all deeply grateful to them from the bottom of our hearts. We thank Allied authorities concerned for all the assistance that they gave us in our fight against the Japs, though, of course, we felt we could have fought better and co-operated much more effectively with them if we had been able to receive larger assistance from the Allied Forces. And of course we must also thank all sections of the people for all the help and co-operation they gave us in the execution of our patriotic tasks. Theirs had been a very unenviable lot always exposed to the retaliations of the brutal Japs upon them for our sake, and it was this in fact which stayed our hand for so long, and without which factor in our consideration we would have taken the Japs to task long ago for their heinous crimes against humanity, against our nation. But because we were so very anxious about their possible plight in the event of our action, we had to perfect every means of counteracting the Japanese retaliatory measures likely to rebound against innocent people of our country in a short space of time at our disposal in preparing our final action against the Japs.

Anyway the war is now over, and it has been won - and won, as we see it, by the peoples of the world. Since 1931, the world had witnessed bloody struggles in one or other part of the globe till all these combined into a world conflagration in the West and the East. Now at long last, peace has come, and I wish to God that the peace that the United Nations should build would be a living, creative peace, creative of freedom, progress and prosperity in all parts of the world, and that it would not all events become a peace of the graveyard. So far as we in Burma are concerned the immediate thing before us is the question of forming a sufficient nucleus of the Burma Defence Force, so that by the time in the next, say two or three years, Burma becomes a Dominion equal in status with the rest of the British Commonwealth of Nations, there will have been built a defence structure sufficient for the minimum defence of our country. Arguments can be advanced, and excuses given that in so short a time Burma will not be able to put herself in a fit position to defend herself. But this only reminds me of saying in our language, (Lar Chin Lyin A Nee Ka Lay, Ma Lar Chin Lyin Kha Yee Way) or that English proverb, "Where there's a will, there is a way." Either from, this war, or the last, or example of world history, I can point out several instances in which every new nation completes its set-up in the throes of a revolution or within a few years of its existence by taking several leaps and bounds.

Even in Britain, the seemingly cumbersome Parliament can pass any act within a day if only it has the mind to do so. Therefore, I do hope that in the interim period before Dominion Status comes to Burma, representatives of the body politic in Burma will be actively associated in the measures taken for the defence of this country; and for the immediate presents, minimum aspirations of the P.B.F. and guerrillas and indeed of our people are there for all to see. We have asked for those minimum conditions, because we face the practical conditions prevailing in our forces and our country realistically. Only then will it be possible for the P.B.F. and guerillas as well as the people in this country to serve for the defence of our country.

If, however, any measure taken by the authorities concerned in this regard is done without proper understanding of the conditions, the sentiments, and aspirations of our forces and our people, in that case, to say the least, neither Britain nor Burma will achieve their mutual aim with the result that the same frustration of hopes and aspirations fostered by our people and the people in Britain before the war will continue to exist. I hope that this will not be the case now, and that the war just ended has also closed this era of frustration. Let us therefore join hands, Britons, Burmans and all nations alike, to build up an abiding fruitful peace over the foundations of the hard-won victory that all of us desiring progressive direction in our own affairs and in the world at large, have at long last snatched firmly and completely from the grabbing hands of Fascist barbarians, a peace, as I have said, not of the graveyard, but creative of freedom, progress and prosperity in the world.

Problems for Burma's Freedom


We have come here today as delegates of the nation to join in this momentous assembly. It is meet that we have gathered like this, for this is the one infallible way that mankind in its pristine wisdom has taken to itself for the solution of any question before it ever since the days of ancient tribal assemblies. It is also appropriate and indeed auspicious that we have assembled ourselves at a place hallowed in our history. Here, on this height, under whose shadow we are meeting, stands the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda which is the standing monument of our nation’s labour of love, the shrine and refuge of our nation’s deathless hopes and boundless inspirations, the gigantic feat of human creation chiselled out of hoary legion, reflecting, in its golden beauty, mortal man’s tireless striving after the infinite and the absolute. Here, before us, lies the rolling health; over its expanse, several years ago, great events rumbled loud and long, and scarred its face not too gently at times and made it what it has been to this day – a consecrated land revered by our nation. Here, great men of our history came in days of yore and offered to dedicate themselves to the service of the nation. Here, in short, our history might be said to have germinated as it had in the other noted region of our country, Tagaung, and had, phoenix-like, resurrections several times again!

Imperishable memories rise in our mind today as we stand on this sacred ground covered by the mantle of twenty-five centuries spread out from the holy brow of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Imperishable memories of the countless thousands who have participated in the endless march of history, of untold sacrifices and matchless deeds of heroism and valour wrought by giants of old and new rising ever to the call of historic destiny, and of the unquenchable and invincible spirit they have bequeathed to us as their richest legacy. We must, for a moment, bare our heads and bow to those dead and mighty, and we shall vow to them that we too in our time will lift ourselves to their heights and make ourselves worthy of their shades and the heritage they have handed down to us. Our nation shall live again!

In such historical consciousness we have now gathered together, and we have gathered not for the first time. Before us there have been several congregations of the kind, particularly round about the Twenties. Why have they met? And why are we meeting now?

For years, and for the first time in our history, our nation has lain prostrate under the heels of foreign imperialism. For years, our creative potentialities have been held in leash and gradually atrophied by the scheme of things of imperialism, so that we cannot order to ourselves a life we hold most dear, a life far better, richer and more complete, a life in which the free development of each will be the condition for the free development of all. And for one generation after another, our nation rose and rallied again and again so that we might live and develop freely as a nation and individuals. Bit by bit, our movement has grown and advanced amidst shoals of reactions, passions and prejudices. Bit by bit, the generations before us have laid the foundation for us to build upon. Today we, standing on top of their creation, may feel like belittling their efforts. But such is the nature of a freedom struggle and historical progress. The development of history is not a sudden and accidental flash in the pan, but a continuous dynamic process involving several layers of men and women reacting to such given historical conditions extant in life and society; and it is not always a smooth placid one in its course. This then is how we must conceive of our freedom struggle – that it is a developing process which the entire nation must help to work in the light of its objective possibilities, that it may run several gauntlets before it comes to its destined goal and that it cannot be treated as a question of days, months or even years in a number of instances. When we come to see our freedom struggle in such perspective, we also come to know that we cannot, when victory comes, carry away the laurels all to ourselves which must likewise be shared by all peoples and generations concerned together, for they have also contributed their parts in their way and time.

But then victory is not yet. We have still an arduous way to traverse before we reach our goal. And you want me to pilot you safely to that journey’s end! I cannot thank you easily for this gesture of trust and confidence you have reposed in me. I must tell you quite frankly from the outset that I cannot dangle any promise of speedy results or sudden windfall of millennium before you. No man, however great, can alone set the wheels of history in motion, unless he has the active support and co-operation of a whole people. No doubt individuals have played brilliant roles in history, but then it is evident that history is not made by a few individuals only. I have already mentioned to you above how history develops as the cumulative creation of generations of men responding to the demands of ever growing logical events. I am well aware that there is such a great craving in man for heroism and the heroic, and that hero worship forms not a small motif in his complex. I am also aware that, unless man believes in his own heroism and the heroism of others, he cannot achieve much or great things. We must, however, take proper care that we do not make a fetish of this cult of hero-worship, for then we will turn ourselves into votaries of false gods and prophets. And we have had more than enough of such false gods and prophets for this trouble-ridden world.

So then we must labour together in the common cause which concerns all and affects everybody. This is the best way in which we can show our highest sense of homage to our heroes; this is the only way in which we can accomplish the mission before us and find our salvation. We must strive and work, all of us, until we become heroes all, so that we can ultimately dispense with any leader or leadership. For only then we can have freedom in a real and absolute sense. But I have gone far ahead. We have yet to win our national freedom before we can hope to help ourselves progressively to that absolute conception of freedom.

We have then a big historic task which we have received from those who have gone ahead and passed, as an inviolable trust. How shall we fulfill it? Before we seek the answer to this question, it is essential in my opinion that we look round and find the threads that could lead us to the final solution. For the problems that confront humanity today are closely interwoven and form one indivisible fabric. Such is the order of the world today which is in a vast melting pot. Internationalism and nationalism, economics and politics, politics and sociology, sociology and culture, religion, ethics, etc., are but different parts of the one complex whole, each related to the other, ever changing in form and content. We cannot think, live and move in watertight compartments only. We cannot keep on holding fixed, rigid dogmas which can no longer be in tune with the spirit of the times. Today in our country several of us have not yet been able to comprehend the phenomena of life and society in truer light. Some of us have been going still, consciously or unconsciously, about the same old way of “dirty” politics. But is politics really “dirty”? Certainly not. It is not politics which is dirty, but rather the persons who choose to dirty it are dirty. And what is politics? Is it something too high above us to which we can just look up in respectful awe and from which we refrain, because we are just mortal clay in His hands and cannot do it? Is it, as some charlatans, roaming occasionally about in distant nooks of our country, used to prey upon the credulous imagination of some of our people, the kind of thing capable of being set aright only by fanciful tales and legends? Is it a dangerous ground which we must be wary to tread and might as well avoid, if we possibly could? Is it just a question of “race, religion and language” forever, as we were once wont to say? What is it, then, really? The fact is that politics is neither high nor low, neither magic nor astrology nor alchemy. Nor is it simply a dangerous ground to tread upon. It is not also a question of bigoted or parochial nationalism either. It must always approximate to the truth of marching events. In short, after all is said and done, politics mean your everyday life. It is you in fact; for you are a political animal as Aristotle long ago declared. It is how you eat, sleep, work and live, with which politics is concerned. You may not think about politics. But politics thinks about you. You may shun politics. But politics clings to you always in your home, in your office, in your factories. There, everyday you are doing politics, grappling with it, struggling with it. The worker works for his wages, the peasant tills for his living, the clerk and the official toil for salaries, the trader and the broker struggle for decent incomes. It is, all, the question of livelihood. The worker wants to have higher wages and live in better conditions. The peasant desires to improve his land and his lot. The clerk and the official want something more than the drudgery of office, something more secure, more complete, more independent. The trader and broker want fair opportunities for trading and business. Thus you have to live and get certain things that are yours for your living, and this is your politics. This is your everyday life; and as your everyday life changes, so changes your politics. It is for you to have such opportunities for your livelihood and better life that we say there must be freedom, freedom to live, freedom to create and develop nationally, and individually, freedom which can raise your and our standards without affecting others. And this is politics. Politics, then is quite human! It is not dirty. It is not dangerous. It is not parochial. It is neither magic nor superstition. It is not above understanding. Alas! This is not to be, for so some wiseacres have ordained. They say politics is dirty. They say politics is religion. They say these all in contradiction with each other in one and the same breath. Politics is religion! Is it? Of course not. But this is the trump card of dirty politicians. In this way, they hope to confuse and befog the public mind, and they hope to slur over and cloud real issues. Their’s is the way of opportunism, not politics. Religion is a matter of individual conscience while politics is a social science. Of course, as a social science, politics must see that the individual also has his rights, including the right to freedom of religious worship. But here we must stop and draw the line definitely between politics and religion, because the two are not one and the same thing. If we mix religion with politics, this is against the spirit of religion itself, for religion takes care of our hereafter and usually has not to do with mundane affairs which are the sphere of politics. And politics is frankly a secular science. That is it.

Practically, and as far as I can see, sociology has and should have no quarrel with religion in the absolute. If we but take its absolute doctrines of love, truth and righteous living, even though these conceptions may be considered abstract, they can also be taken as social values all right and no harm can be done to society at any time. But when, in the name and respectable cloak of religion, superstition, unreason and exploitation of man by man, and any form of injustice is upheld, then society cannot possibly remain indifferent to what a particular thing is about. However may be the ominous prophecy of its priests, we must, as faithful students of social history, cry halt and see that it does not become a law unto itself and injure humanity. This is not after all a new sociological doctrine of mine. It had been rigorously applied by one of the greatest men of our history, Anawratha and we have owed so much progress in our history to this one act of historical surgery. The truth is, history has shown us that there is such a thing as priestcraft aside from religion. And that is what has caused so much muddling of our affairs and not religion as religion in the ultimate analysis of it. It may be here pointed out that this has nothing to do with religion and that such priestcraft is never sanctioned by religion. True, but as students of history we have seen that priestcraft usually came along with every religion. The quarrels between Popes and Emperors, between Aris and Anawratha in our history or that too well-known saying that Trade and the Flag follow the Bible – these serve to remind us, too painfully, of the existence of priestcraft, the bane and excrescence of every religion, and also of every society at any time. But we must here distinguish between priestcraft and priesthood. Whatever we say of priestcraft does not hold true in the case of priesthood. In our instance, priesthood has imprinted to this day, indelible marks upon the face of our history and for good reasons too. It was in fact priesthood which had taken upon itself the entire social obligation of educating our whole nation in olden days; it is priesthood which is now still mainly responsible for whatever education our country folks are receiving and for the still fairly high standard of literacy in this country. It was priesthood which helped to enrich our culture and civilisation greatly. We thank our priesthood from the bottom of our hearts for all these they did and have done which has helped the progress of our history so much.

Speaking of Buddhism particularly, which is the religion professed by the greatest bulk of our people, I can say without prejudice to other religions that it is more than a religion itself and has several indications of its becoming possibly the greatest philosophy in the world, if we can help to remove the trash and travesties which antiquity must have doubtless imposed on this great religion. I wish therefore to address a special appeal to the Buddhist priesthood and say to them: Reverend Sanghas! You are the inheritors of a great religion in the world. Purify it and broadcast it to all the world so that all mankind might be able to listen to its timeless message of Love and Brotherhood till eternity. Reverend Sanghas! We will worship you forever as Promoters of Love and Brotherhood. We are prepared to listen to your exhortation for Love and Brotherhood not only amongst our own people, but also amongst the peoples of this wide world. And we will support you in this respect as best we could for this is what the world and our country need very badly at this moment. Reverend Sanghas! You have a tremendous role to play the world history, and if you succeed, you will be reserved by the entire mankind for ages to come. This is one of your high functions ordained by your religion; and this is the highest politics which you can do for your country and people. Go amongst our people, preach the doctrine of unity and love; carry the message of higher freedom to every nook and corner of the country, freedom to religious worship, freedom to preach and spread the Dharma anywhere and anytime, freedom from fear, ignorance, superstition, etc., teach our people to rely upon themselves and re-construct themselves materially, spiritually and otherwise. You have these and many more noble tasks before you. Will you or will you not rise equal to your tasks? The answer lies doubtless with you.

But I must come back to politics. And I have not finished talking about it! As a matter of fact, politics knows no end. It is Samsara in operation before our eyes, the Samsara of cause and effect, of past and present, of present and future which goes round and round and never ends. What cause and what effect, what past and what present, what present and what future holds for us now in politics? We have wars and wars. What cause? What effect? Let us survey these.

Until a few months ago, we had been living in a world of storms and strives which did not escape our very soil. What cause? Of course Fascism! Why Fascism? And what is it any way really? Draped in Italian dress, manufactured in Germany mostly, copied by Japan and imported to a large part of the world (including our own country) until recently, Fascism is the worst product of Capitalism the world has ever seen. It is the most reactionary jingoism, imperialism and, indeed, rule of Finance Capital. How is it that the growth of such a monstrosity of humanity and history has been made possible? The answer lies in the very laws of capitalist society. Capitalism, being based on anarchic production for profit and resultant inequalities in distribution of wealth, is no longer able to solve the problems that is itself sets. Instead it has called forth irreconcilable antagonism between man and man, race and race, nation and nation, which is greatly intensified and extended in depth and range, by the very culture that it breeds (the culture of profit, motive, greed and hate) and by the very technique it has forged – Science! As the contradictions and crisis of Capitalism deepen further and further, it grows more and more desperate, and thus it resorts to all sorts of strategems, subterfuges and stupidities. Unable to solve the crisis of “overproduction” which it creates, it destroys goods and machinery, exploits workers and the home market more intensively while it also hunts furiously for foreign markets and colonies. Desiring to get more profit and yet more profit, it gets less and less, and therefore it sets in motion unbridled competition amongst the capitalists of the same country and between one state and another, leading progressively to the elimination of one by the other and formation of trusts, cartels and such forms of monopoly nationally and internationally which again intensify competitions, seek more fields and pastures new and attempt to exploit or rob existing ones harder and harder until it calls in sharp divisions and struggle between capital and labour, between state and state, between imperialist countries and colonial countries, and finally leads to a series of local wars extending at last to a large part of the world and affecting it to its very foundation. This is how, roughly, the laws of capitalist development operate. These laws, by their very nature and logic, lead to and end in repeated crisis and wars; and they will continue that way, as long as capitalism exists on the face of this earth, and until it faces the logical music of history and transforms itself into socialism. But this is what capitalist society does not want to do. Instead it seeks to prop itself up by various artificial devices and means. Thus we came to have Imperialism and Fascism, the two expressions of the same phenomenon in different forms – Finance Capital. How is it then, that Fascism and Imperialism, even though facets of the same thing, have ranged themselves in opposite camps in the world war just ended? Again we find the answer in the inexorable logic of capitalist development. History is fashioned not by the good intentions or wishful fancies of any individual or group of individuals, but ordered according to the iron laws of historical necessity. We have a classic example in the events of this decade wherein we have observed these laws in relentless operation. We have seen how at the beginning imperialist circles in Britain, France and elsewhere tried to foster and sponsor their bastard half brother, Fascism. The Munich Gang in Britain, for instance, was responsible, in a large way, for the rape of Abyssinia and Manchuria, and for the triumph of Fascism in Spain, Germany, Europe and the world. In our East too, it was these self same ruling classes of imperialism who had egged on Japanese militarism in many ways. They had thus counted on these forces of reaction coming finally out against the rising forces of history in their homes and the world abroad. But they failed dismally. Their Frankenstein monster turned against themselves and threatened to seize them and the whole world by the very throat. Then they were forced by the iron laws of historical necessity to fight against Fascism in the opposite camp. But even then we have seen how they tried at first to fight Fascism half-heartedly, in their mortal fear of having to ally with the rising forces of history such as the Soviet Union, China and other democratic movements, and thus had to pay very dearly for that original sin of theirs. The lightning advance of Fascism throughout the greater part of Europe and Asia at the beginning was, in no small measure, due to their criminal folly and stupid action then. In Burma, British imperialism declared our country to be a belligerent without consulting the opinion of our people at all and in that way invited aggression to our country while it took no sufficient care to defend her or let her enable our people to defend. At the same time, British imperialism did not do anything to give our people a cause to fight for, for it made itself clear at the very outset that the war or peace aims enunciated in the Atlantic Charter and any other Charters and statements did not apply to British possessions like India and Burma. That was how they had at first fought the war against Fascism and nearly lost. But then the forces of history proved to be much stronger then the will and wishes of our imperialists. They were forced to ally with the Soviet Union, they were forced to come to help of China which had to fight alone against Jap militarism for years, they were compelled to go to their own people more and more, they had to rally all peoples of the world and especially those suffering under the heel of Fascist dictatorship. They had to appeal to world democratic opinion and thus became allies, though unwilling, of progressive forces in their own countries and the world. Thus they had to fight with the help and support of the peoples of the world, doling out bits of power and concessions to the latter in return for their help and support. But what matters here was not these concessions of power on the part of imperialism but the iron logic of the situation which made them go to the peoples and fight and win the war against Fascism and in that way defeated Fascism and weakened their own position still further while the progressive movements of the peoples all the world over have been made much stronger then ever, and in many cases, have been won the peace for themselves. This is the perspective that World War II has opened before us. Of course it is true that Fascism has suffered only military defeat, and its roots remain and are yet alive. We find them visible in a full-grown stage in one country at least – Spain. We can find them lying in ambush, one-way or the other in some countries still. We find them even in the home of democracy, Britain, where Fascism led by Sir Oswald Mosley is still respectable among some members of the British ruling class. We find them in international trusts and cartels, we find them in the enslavement of many millions of brown and black peoples of the world including our own. Unless these roots were taken out completely, unless the whole world becomes a world of free peoples living and co-operating for multi-lateral development in all respects, the world cannot yet claim that it has discovered enduring peace out of the ashes of the recent worldwide conflagration. Of course there is the United Nations Organisation. Of course its objects and purposes are laudable. Of course it has set up more powerful machinery than the old League of Nations did for the construction of peace. Of course it has greater sanction behind it with the powerful participation of the Soviet Union and U.S.A. apart from the possession of an international force. Of course China is one of the Big Five. Of course the way for international economic co-operation and for battering down economic and financial walls has been prepared in such organisation as the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development by the Bretton-Woods Conference of the United Nations. Perhaps it is a good beginning that the United Nations has made. But even its most enthusiastic supporter cannot yet say that it is what mankind today can do most. The question of colonial peoples, especially of those old ones subjected to victorious powers, remains conveniently shelved. Their political and economic future is still as hazy as ever.

I have no desire to be cynical. But I cannot help quoting a British historian’s comment on the peace-making efforts after World War I. He wrote thus: “The statement had not been equal to the grandeur of events. They had made a peace which was no peace. American idealists who were well content that the doctrine of self-determination should be violated in respect to their Red Indians and Africans, joined with English idealists, who were not proposing to march out of India or Egypt in denouncing the lapses from the high doctrine of self-determination which were noted in their treaties. Human nature, it was widely felt, had failed. Europe has not been made safe for democracy. The bright exhilaration of victory was soon blotted out by the fog of disillusion, resentment and despair.”

A tremendous responsibility rests upon the Soviet Union, United States and China to follow up this beginning of the United Nations Organisation to a far better end, and we look to these three great countries for a more positive and bolder lead in the making of peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming sections of the peoples of the world. We have been greatly inspired by the undaunted courage and the heroic spirit of socialist emulation with which the peoples of the Soviet Union have striven to win Socialism in their own country and build planned economy and with which they rallied to the tasks of defeating the brigand hordes of Fascist barbarism in World War II, even when they had to fight alone and single-handed for a protracted period. We greatly admire the might and prowess of this Socialist Fatherland and we recognise its great role in defeating Fascism in Europe especially. We have been also impressed very much by the way this great land of Socialism has sponsored the cause of dependent and colonial peoples both in domestic affairs and at San Francisco. Similarly we have been awed by the production might of U.S.A. which came into the effective waging of war against Fascism, and we have been genuinely pleased that it sent its forces in large numbers to Europe and the Pacific theatre to give her utmost in the war against Fascism. We have been encouraged by the intention of this greatest democracy of the world to champion the liberty and freedom of all nations in the world as testified to by the late President Roosevelt’s interpretation of the Atlantic Charter and by President Truman’s twelve-point foreign policy. We have been very much elevated by the great contributions made by this world’s Number One Democracy to the cause of world freedom and by those of her greatest men of history such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and the late President Roosevelt. In our country we have learnt to repeat often the immortalised phrase of President Lincoln – “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Finally we are proud that our great neighbour, the titanic dragon of China has proved its greatness and prowess in the historic events of this decade. We salute their epic courage and marvellous tenacity in standing alone against a powerful enemy for long years. We are justly proud of their victory. We hail it in fact as the victory of Asia and we appreciate the fight they put up so gloriously for Asia’s and the world’s liberation. We congratulate them and we welcome the unifying process of China which we trust, will be running smoothly now. Having said all these, we look to these three great countries on earth, great not only in size and population but in other respects as well, to band together instead of one manoeuvring against another and so forth as in the old League and to stifle all attempts to re-establish the old world of inequalities and maladjustments, and they should vie together to bring in immediately a new world of freedom and light, with no patched of darkness in it. We look to these three great nations to make this U.N.O. a real organisation of all united nations as opposed to the old League style organisation of governments and their satellites. It is essential for U.N.O. to be a real one at that by asking particular member nations to elect and send accredited representatives of nations respectively and not merely obscure personnel picked and chosen by ruling governments. We take great exception to the way India was represented in International conferences and organisations and to the way Burma was represented in such as the Far Eastern Commission, by the nominees of British Government.

If the U.N.O is really to become an effective organisation for world peace and security, then attempts must be made to blot out invidious distinctions between Big Nations and Small Nations. After all how do we judge a nation to be a big or small one? Is it size in territory that matters? Certainly not. If it is, a country like India should always be entitled to the position of a big Nation. But we know that it is now. Japan, until recently, was considered big. But we know very well that her size did not entitle her to that. Is it population that counts? Again the reply is in the negative. India is the classic answer to that. Is it then possession of resources and raw materials that make a nation big? But we have seen Japan and Italy could have become big without such plenitude of resources. A nation is considered big because and only because that nation could have marched greatly more in tune with the music of history than others. At one time Russia lay writhing and wriggling under the whip of Tartar rule for two or three centuries. But today she is a great country, unique in her greatness, for she is now not only one of the biggest political and military powers on earth, but also the one great land where a new civilisation of socialism is being developed.

Now what of Great Britain itself, after this war? Great Britain is no longer “great” and the sun over her empire has begun sinking though it has not sunk completely. At one time British imperialism was the biggest empire in the world not only in the political and military spheres but also though less visibly, in the economic and financial spheres pulling many strings in many countries even outside her visible empire. But today, this is no longer true. She is a debtor even to her colonies and dependencies like India and Egypt. By the ineluctable laws of historical Karma, she has been compelled to pay frequent pilgrimages to the Mecca of World Finance, to the United States of America. Though some years ago, there had been a fierce, yet silent warfare between the two, away on the high sea of Finance the once dogged and tenacious John Bull has now turned himself into Mohamed frequenting the Mountain on which the Statue of Liberty stands greeting every one who comes. Even though outwardly she retains her colonial empire her colonies in the very logic of things, have become more liabilities than assets, and she cannot afford to keep them for long to her own detriment. Whether British imperialism will see the writing on the wall in time and shed her imperialism not only in words but also in fact and thus seek the willing and energetic co-operation of the peoples in those countries which are now her colonies, in order to harness productive potentialities at home and abroad to the maximum and thereby regenerate her own country and the countries which are now her colonies; or whether she will choose to go the same old way of other empires and decay and perish ultimately – this is the question which Britain must decide now or never.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * II * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One thing that has come out of World War II is this. That the days of imperialism are numbered especially in Asia. Asia has been rejuvenated and is progressively coming into world politics. Asia can no longer be ignored in international councils. Its voice grows louder and louder, you can hear it in Indonesia, you can hear it in Indo-China, you can harken to it in Burma and India and elsewhere. And we can see Asia rising unmistakably in China. Asia is marching. The world must reckon now with gathering Asian unity and strength. We cannot be divided and kept down and apart for all time. We shall come together, we will come together and build a new Asian order. But it will not and must not be one like the Co-prosperity Sphere of militarist Japan, nor should it be another Asiatic Monroe doctrine, nor Imperial Preference or Currency Bloc. It should not be one, imposed on us, separately or altogether, in which one race or the other can come to dominate and dictate and wire pull. At any rate we must see that it does not become camouflaged Balkanisation of Asia where some people from outside can come in and play one against the other. It should become the Asiatic branch of the world family organisation formed for the purpose of Asian unity and co-operation to win not only Asia’s but also all the world’s freedom, security and progress and peace; and it should not permit of any exclusionism in any sphere within the walls of ethnic and geographical limits, though no doubt we must set before us the primary and practical task of putting our own home in order, first, and though no doubt we can and will have such tasks as are peculiar to Asia only, such as reintegration and reorientation of Asian culture, so that we might rediscover our Asian destinity and thus contribute further for the enrichment of world culture and civilisation.

This is how I visualise the coming of the new Asian order. In the meantime we must – with whoever wants to come and can come now, in Asia and, possibly, outside Asia, such as oppressed and exploited peoples of the world and the like and also whoever desire to support such of our cause – we must march together, work together and join hands together and form, if necessary, interim joint arrangements to face common problems of the immediate present, on the initiative taken by us or by any other or others. Personally I think such step may be necessary before we can have that bigger concept in effective co-operation. Anyway, I place these views before our brethren in Asia and, indeed before all the world, for what they are worth.

Before I pass on, I desire on behalf of our entire nation, to pay my heartfelt tribute to the patriotic peoples of Indonesia and Indo-China for the valiant struggles they are waging against dark and evil forces of tyranny, physical might and willful slander. Though mountains and seas divide us, I want these brave and heroic peoples to know that we are with them and that we regard their struggles as our own struggle. And we are determined to be free just as they. Gallant peoples of Indonesia and Indo-China! Though today, for various reasons, we cannot yet come together for our common tasks, still we will come and must come together; and we will try our best to come to you. Carry on your fight. We send you our best wishes and blessings. Nay, we will, if we can, do more than send you best wishes and blessing. Anyway, may you be crowned with success in your high endeavour none too long.

I desire also to appeal to the peoples of China, to Marshal Chiang Kai-Shek, Mao Tse-Tung, General Chu Teh and others of light and leading in China to unite firmly and unbrokenly for China’s sake as well as for the sake of Asia and world. Might I in all humility remind them all to be ever conscious of the immense obligation they owe to history for China and Asia and indeed for the world, and might I remind them further that they can, if they will, fulfill this obligation to history and can themselves become one of the greatest peoples in the world for a long time to come again. We appeal to them, first, because we are their immediate neighbour who has solicitude for his other neighbour’s peace quite genuinely. We appeal to them because we love peace in our country, in the East and in the world.

Similarly, I desire to appeal to India and to her leaders, Mahatama Gandhi, Mr. Jinnah, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, President Azad and others to be united and march together as one to a free happy India.

I want also to address the Indians and Chinese residing in this country. To them I say: we have no bitterness, no ill will for them, or for that matter for any race and nationality in the world. If they choose to join us, we will welcome them as our own brethren. If they desire to help us as good friends, and neighbours only, again we shall be glad to reciprocate their friendship and sympathy. But they must be careful not to be made pawns in the game of our internal politics. For today, interested parties may try to use them in Burma and to make them play against us. These interested parties will come to them with specious pleas and promises and little concession. They must not allow themselves to be taken in by those interested parties. They must choose and choose once and for all whether they will be our friends or foes. And they cannot be both. To Europeans we say we will offer our hand of friendship but that relation cannot definitely be on the present basis of master and servant. It must be only on terms of equality.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * III * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, I shall come closer home. But before I do that, I must explain why I am treating things and events from outside at considerable length. The fact is that as we all know, events in the world are organically connected with one another, and whether we like it or not we are influenced by them. We have ourselves known it actually during this past three of four years. It is therefore imperative for us to follow and understand things in the world intelligently. Moreover we all know that conceptions of independence and sovereignty are now losing their former absolutism. This is true for all nations big or small, and not for particular instance of a small nations like ours as advanced by our imperialists and their trainbearers as an argument against our national independence. After all, many small nations are still independent in the world today. If somebody points out that such independent small nations are helpless before external aggression, the recent war has proved that big nations are likewise not secure as can be seen in the fall of France in 1940. So such an argument against our independence does not bear even our superficial scrutiny. After all, an independent Burma will not be friendless, and it is because we desire to order our own life in our country by co-operating and forming friendships with other nations freely for mutual or multi-lateral interests of defence or economics, etc., that we want to be free and independent. But, how, some will ask will I reconcile my conception of a universal interdependence of nations with that of national independence for Burma? Will not a greater union or commonwealth or bloc be a better conception, more in harmony with the needs of the time, you might ask? Yes, it is a better one, provided it is a voluntary affair and not imposed from above as I have already dealt with it earlier, provided it is not the kind like the United States of Europe. Mr. Churchill once suggested obviously as a check against any advancing influence of the Soviet Union conceived in the narrow spirit of the classic balance of power. In fact some day it may be proved necessary and possible for us to have, say, something like the United States of Indo-China comprising French Indo-China, Thailand, Malaya, Indonesia and our country. This is not an idealist conception. It is one that may be well commended by historical developments of these countries having several points of affinity with one another ethnically, strategically, economically and otherwise. So then we must understand and try to understand internationalism and learn to cultivate the right spirit of internationalism. For, by co-operating with other nations for multi-lateral interests we can have the benefit of world’s best in every possible way and thus our life will become infinitely higher and richer, whereas by keeping to ourselves we might be always balancing the ends and meeting finally, more likely than not, our own doom. This sort of scientific internationalism, the internationalism of creative mutuality, is indeed in accord with the highest interests of nationalism. For if only there comes to be such internationalism it will mean not only abiding peace, universal freedom, it will mean incalculable progress, for then we shall avail ourselves of the best that can come out of creative human labour of the entire mankind and then such scientific discovery of atomic energy can be most effectively employed not in mutual destruction but in releasing unimaginable forces of production, and almost all the problems that we face today might be solved very radically in that event. There will be greater health, longer life; there may be no problem of over or under population, there will be plenty in many things. Time and space will be conquered and the world will become a world of immediate and not distant neighbours. We will come back to the idea of world family which mankind was originally in a much higher form. This is a very beautiful conception no doubt. But this is not practical. So some will argue. But we have seen now the increasing universal interdependence of nations which logic will progressively urge the world to unite. It is not unpracticable. It is only that time is not yet ripe for it to mature into reality. Even now we hear so much about regional blocs and things like that. This sort of logic is the very nature of life and things. Such process has been and will be very much accelerated by modern science. Only because physical and natural sciences run very far ahead of social and mental sciences, we see a number of maladjustment and dislocations in the form of wars and crisis. But these sciences are also catching up, and when they catch up with the other sciences, finally, the above conception of internationalism will enter the realm of practical possibility. In the meantime, we must work within existing practical limits toward that ideal. This is scientific internationalism. There is no such thing as pure nationalism. What is nationalism any way? Is it something static, absolute and final? No it is not. It is ever changing in form and content. Every student of social and political science knows very well that such slogans as race, religion, language do not alone constitute nationalism. There are one or more races in almost every country. Nowadays, we have different religions being embraced by members of the same nationality. Americans and British speak the same language but do not form one nation. In the Soviet Union, there are several languages and yet these people are one. What then constitutes nationalism? The main factor is the having to lead together one common life sharing joys and sorrows, developing common interests and one or more common things like racial or linguistic communities, fostering common traditions of having been and being one which give us a consciousness of oneness and necessity of that oneness. Race, religion, and language are thus by themselves not primary factors which go to the making of a nation but the historic necessity of having to lead common life together that is the pivotal principle of nationality and nationalism. Nowadays, with the increasing mutual intercourse of nations, there is such a provision in many of the constitutions of the world for naturalisation of foreigners. As I see it, at one time nationalism took a centrifugal turn, as races streamed off from the main stock and family, and now the process seems to be otherwise; it seems to be taking a centripetal course. So our conception of nationalism must move, change and rise with the times. Otherwise we will stew in the juices of parochial nationalism or even jingoism which we have seen how undesirable for humanity from the rise of Fascism and which finally will spell our nation’s doom as in the case of Germany. But it is in history that opportunist political leadership taking advantage of the strong national sentiments of the people may try to exploit the nationalism of the people for their selfish individual or group interests. We must be careful of such exploitation of nationalism. For then racial strives and bitterness will be fomented and fostered among us by interested parties in order to divert our attention from the main objective.

Now we have surveyed the world and Asian perspectives. We have cleared many foggy notions enveloping our heads. We see now more correctly and clearly. How then shall we carry out our national tasks before us? We have seen that the greatest of our national tasks is to win national freedom. How shall we win it?

Today world imperialism in general and British imperialism in particular is very much weakened. We have observed this face in the earlier part of my address. Today Asia is coming into her own. Today we have built a strength of our making. This strength is ever rising and developing. As events move on, British imperialism will get into deeper and deeper waters in her home and in the international field. Though in her foreign policy British imperialism clings to U.S.A. for support, and though U.S.A. somewhat seems to lend it to her up to now, one can notice feverish preparations going on behind the scene for another silent warfare on the high distant sea between the two British imperialism thinks still in terms of economic and financial blocs and preferences, and we have noticed this tendency in the discussions carried on in and out of British Parliament on the subject of the financial loan from U.S.A. and the Bretton-Woods Monetary Agreement. We of course must oppose attempts to form economic blocs and preferences. We stand for free, mutual economic co-operation and transaction with any nation or nations. For this is what the world and our country need at the moment. But British imperialism dose not feel like agreeing to such free and multi-lateral economic co-operation in the international field. Even some so–called Socialists in Britain appear to be opposed to such free economic internationalism. They cannot yet get out of the old outlook of economic nationalism or rather economic imperialism in their case. They cannot yet get over the old scares of deflation which they associate with unemployment and so on. They are still half-inclined to think that exchange controls and some preferences are necessary. The fact is this. It is not an ostrich-like policy in economics or politics that will solve the problems of unemployment and other problems. We can see that unemployment and doles are brought about not because of deflation exactly but because of the inevitable way in which capitalism works. If the people of Britain desire to build a new and prosperous Britain with plenty for all, the only way for them to do is apply Socialist programme to all problems, domestic, colonial and international. At home, the state must take the primary responsibility for economic welfare of the people and should not leave it to the whims and caprices of private capital. Abroad, full economic internationalism should be supported. All colonies must be freed. The productive forces of freed colonial peoples will be then tremendously enhanced and could be brought to play in the life of the peoples in Britain herself which will then become much richer and more complete. That is how we have understood the return of the Labour Government to power by the British electorate – that they desire to build Socialism at home, abroad and everywhere, for they cannot desire otherwise. Socialism by patches and bits will not solve existing problems effectively. The Labour Government of Britain needs to take a bolder step towards Socialism. But to us from the outside, the Socialist Government of Britain is going its way haltingly and hesitatingly. In some respects, they are found to be more conservative than the Conservatives. It is indeed a pathetic sight to see how the Socialist Government go about such things as the Bretton-Woods Agreement and loan from U.S.A. half-apologetically, half-bowing to the Conservatives and the British ruling class. If they go on this way, I am afraid that they will lose the chance of their lifetime to do anything at home and abroad. It will mean the undoing of not only their great party, but of British prestige and interests as well. Housing, coal and labour shortages, social security etc., these problems in their own home will become more and more acute. Britain may have to face internal divisions then. And colonies, of course will free themselves, for they are now in a much stronger position than at any time in history and moreover they have and will have the increasing sympathy and support of the peoples of the world and other forces. The forces of history now seem to be working all in their favour. The colonial question all over the world and especially in Asia has become one which has received the blessing and the will of history in a very large measure. This is the prospect before Britain, her government and people. How will they face it worthily?

But British imperialism seems so far to be following the line of economic opportunism in the international sphere and economic fascism in her colonies. It is digging its own grave thereby. That way does not lie Britain’s regeneration. But British imperialism is blindly and desperately trying to retrieve her old position at greater expense of the colonies. We have seen British imperialism trying to do something for herself in the international economic field at the expense of colonial members of her Sterling bloc like India. We have noticed that in the Bretton-Woods Monetary Agreement and the question of the loans from the U.S.A. In Burma British imperialism is surreptitiously bringing in economic fascism in the name of reconstruction by means of many plans and projects hatched long ago at Simla in those days of defeat and disgrace after it had to run for its life out of Burma before the advancing tide of Fascist invasion and in the absence of popular support in Burma because of its unwise war policy. I have not the time to go into everyone of them. I shall just content myself with certain general observations regarding these plans and projects.

There is no denying the fact in all quarters that the greatest things Burma needs now are relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. But how does the British Government propose to do that? Ostensibly for financing those so-called reconstruction projects, the Governor has received already a loan of £ 87 millions without interest, so it is said. Without interest! How is it possible for the British Government which itself is borrowing from U.S.A at 2 per cent interest rate to lend us so generously without interest? As a matter of rude fact this is neither loan to us nor without interest. When we hear getting such and such a loan from Britain, it is in goods and not in cash. Evidently whatever interests our creditors wanted had been counted when the prices of these goods were fixed. So this talk about loan without interest must be received with a grain of salt. When the British Parliament and public discussed the loans to be received from U.S.A so much concern was felt by so many, and their government had to assure and reassure her Parliament and public that there were no strings attached to the loans and so forth. Some blamed the U.S Government for being too business-like and timid and all sorts. Some say if Imperial preferences are to go, then Government lends money to Burma, the conditions of its acceptance, even though not explicitly laid down, are there. What are they? Leaving aside the question of the loans having to be spent in Britain, by examining the reconstruction projects made by the Governor, we can see that the loan was, after all, not for the reconstruction of economic life of the peoples of Burma but for the rehabilitation of British economic strangle-hold on our country. In the name of State control and plausible objectives, British Government will try to set up the old British interests and businesses for a limited period, and after that most of these economic set-ups will be handed back to the old British vested interests as compensations and what not. This is roughly how the British Government intends to do in Burma. But up to now we have not heard of a single thing the British Government has done to compensate so many thousands of our people in this country who have suffered so much damage in lives and properties. The great amount of devastation and damages in our country during this war were mostly done by British scorched-earth policy when they withdrew from Burma in 1942 and by British bombing and destruction. Moreover, this country and our people suffered so much in this war because the British Government could not defend Burma and because they left us in the lurch for reasons of imperial strategy. That they had great responsibility for such debacle in Burma, they themselves had admitted in their Parliament. If I remember correctly, they even had said that the defence of Burma was an Imperial Charge. Therefore if finances are supplied by the British Government for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Burma up to 1941 level, they should be advanced gratis, as the British failed to give security to Burma in 1942 and themselves caused most of these damages in Burma by scorched-earth policy and the like. But they advanced these finances as loans which mean of course deferred taxation of the people of Burma. Even apart from this fact, if the people will benefit from these loans, this is all right to some extent. But now they will be mainly employed to regenerate British vested interests. So these are not loans, after all; as a matter of blunt fact, they are exactions for War Indemnity from the people of Burma! Our people, instead of going to receive compensations, will have now to pay disguised war Indemnity. This is the naked truth. And when we ask Government why it is that nothing has been done for compensation to the people, their graphic answer is that they could not possibly do anything about it during the past three years as they were not in possession of facts and could not come down by parachutes to gather facts or consult public opinion! As against this, the other argument that we must know how to attract capital as apologia for bringing in the old vested British interests is more plausible. We must attract capital no doubt. We need it. But we do not want disguised war indemnities or monopolies or unilateral investments in our country.

Passing on to the projects such as, for example, the Civil Supplies Board, Agricultural Project etc., it is proposed that “Government should come forward and declare itself as a buyer of all produce of certain named crops surplus to local requirements.” Only thus. So Government hopes, “by guaranteeing a market at attractive prices, will the necessary stability of projects be forth-coming to encourage maximum production and an early return to normalities”. Attractive prices! For the farmers who produce or for so-called would-be agents of Burma? I quite agree that the prices of agricultural produce should be fixed by Government. We asked for such thing from the very beginning even before the war, but to no avail. Now in these era of mounting inflation these prices will be fixed. How will this be done? I quite agree that we must fix the prices of such basic products from the point of view of world market and the consumers. But before we fix such prices, we must tackle the problem of inflation first. Without doing that, the control of the prices of the agricultural produces can mean only one thing-squeezing the throats of our farmers and peasants. And what will be the consequences? We see these in widespread robberies and clandestine dealing in military goods (which is an open secret). How can we combat inflation? We all know that one of the first things which we must do about inflation is to make immediately the free flow of commodities possible inside and from outside, and whatever steps are necessary to do that, production, transport etc., for the moment, must be done; while government, if it is not prepared to take the whole burden, need only to watch that there are no economic excesses, so to speak. Now here comes the question of exports and imports too. These will be now, in effect the monopoly of Government, but it is not the kind of state monopoly that is comparable in any way to the monopoly of foreign trade, held for example, by the U.S.S.R. No, here agents come in because it is said that Government has no experience in such matters. Very well, if Government cannot take upon itself the whole responsibility, why should agencies be confined to the old monopolists? Cannot our people be brought in as agents too? It is argued that we have no experience. Experience! In that name, we have always been deprived of any opportunity to learn ourselves. What is there so obstruse about buying and selling that Burmans cannot be supposed to do? If at all they need some more advice cannot Government arrange for that? Added to this the declaration of Japanese currency null and void as legal tender has worked a great havoc upon the people, especially in the countryside. It is curious that while in Burma the Jap currency was declared invalid, it was given some value in some other occupied territories of South East Asia. What guiding reason led British authorities to do that? Is it because they could be more disinterested in those territories as they were non-British colonies? Now that military operations are over the danger of the enemy issuing unlimited volume of Jap currency is already past. Why can’t Government fix some value of these currencies as done in those territories and get them into circulation again after taking necessary precautions, while arrangements are made to enable Burma, represented not by the British Government’s nominees but by our people’s representative, to make due claims that our people ought to get from Japan on international commissions or bodies concerned?

Well, endless arguments are thus given by British imperialists for introducing economic Fascism in Burma. Inflation in our country is assuming ominous proportions. Many are unemployed. People have no money. These and many others form a string of portentous economic factors operating in Burma now. And British Government instead of throwing the doors wide open for the free flow of trade to and from outside, while she herself cannot yet supply us all in sufficient quality and in good quality and time, she is adopting the dog-in-the-manger policy by shutting out goods from other countries, shutting even UNNRA. But this is not the way British imperialism can retrieve her old position. This way prepared defeat and disaster for her. But she is heedless of these. She is desperate. She must recuperate her old imperialism. And therefore she prepared legal sanction for the introduction of economic Fascism in Burma. And what are they?

As my time is short, I will just mention a few of these legal enactments done by a judge in the name of the Governor.

Section 5 of the Special Judges Act, 1943, requires only that the Special Judge will record a memorandum of substance of the statements of the witnesses, and the accused is not entitled as of right to call witnesses he considers. Only witnesses the Judge considers material can be called.

In other words, even in capital cases, the Special Judge tries the accused as in a summary trial generally considered suitable only for minor offences.

There is no right either of appeal or revision from the conviction or sentence of a Special Judge. Even the high Court is barred by the words of Section 6(1) of the Act from interfering in revision. But where a sentence of death is passed, the sentence is subject to review by one Judge of the High Court under Section 6(2). In other words, on a conviction and any sentence following is short of capital one, the accused is left without any means of questioning his conviction and sentence.

By virtue of Section 14 of the Courts (Emergency provisions) Act, 1943, no accused convicted by a first, second or third class Magistrate can appeal against the conviction and sentence. An accused who is convicted by a Special Powers Magistrate cannot appeal unless he is convicted to a term exceeding 5 years’ imprisonment. An accused convicted by a Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge cannot appeal unless the death sentence is passed against him.

An appeal by an accused who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 5 years is made not to the High Court but to the Sessions Judge, who in these days is also a Special Judge and is generally too busy to give adequate attention to the appeals.

Confessions made to the Police are rendered admissible in evidence by Section 14 of the Act; and the rule against statements alleged to have been made to the Investigating Police Officer by the accused person being proved against him is withdrawn by the rules made under Section 14 of the Act. Thus prosecution is allowed to prove that (a) the accused made a confession to the Police and (b) the accused made certain statement to the police in course of the investigation. The only restrictions on such evidence being used are (a) that the accused at any time the alleged statement was made should not be in police custody and (b) that no threat, coercion and undue influence is proved against the police. The usual dodge of the police is not to make a formal arrest before they get the statement and is always a difficult thing for the accused to prove threat, coercion or undue influence by the police. In the hands of unscrupulous, investigating police officers who want to have convictions to their credit, these are dangerous powers. It will be only the accused’s word against that of the police.

I said last time that the British Judicial system in Burma has become like the Japan Kempetai System. Exactly it is. For these amendments of laws at once place our people constantly exposed to unscrupulous police terror as well as to the tyranny of vindictive judges. And we are not unaware of many instances in the districts of interferences by the executive side in judicial matters. It is argued: these laws are temporary and for emergency period only. But where is the emergency situation in our country? While in other countries increasing liberties follow with the cessation of hostilities, here in Burma in the name of emergency people are deprived of their liberty. Through British Parliament and highly placed people, we are told that the British are coming back to Burma with goodwill and for our liberation. Are these emergency laws and economic projects an earnest of their laudable intensions? It is no use prevaricating these facts by condemning statements about legal intricacies which can be understood only by 17 people in Burma out of her 17 millions and so forth. Another argument is that “We could not come down by parachutes and consult you” when we said from the last mass meeting held in this place asking for publication of their projects and plans and urging their final adoption only after public opinion had been consulted. Expressions of this kind, let me remind those in authority, will not enhance their prestige, but will promote a lot of anti-British feelings in this country.

This is how British Government hopes to bring in economic Fascism in Burma. That is how they mean to push it through “legally”. That is why there must be the personal rule of Governor. For legally, the Governor is the Dictator of Burma.

That is what explains the disagreement between the Governor and ourselves. We are not asking for the impossible. We are only asking that the Governor should form an Executive Council which will be representative of all principal political groups as he himself has said in his speeches and as an interim Government in our circumstances must always be. We are only asking that this Executive Council, though legally to be solely responsible to the Governor, should as by democratic practice and convention be able to act with collective responsibility to the people. We came down far from our original stand for the formation of a National Government which must consist of all Burmans and which must have all powers. We agree to the reservation of important subjects like defence, External Affairs and Scheduled Areas in the hands of the Governor and we agree to accept the Governor’s nominees both Burman and British. We even do not grudge a very important portfolio like Finance being held by one of his nominees. The only thing we ask of Governor is that, though legally he has the sole responsibility for administering the country, he should as by convention democratise his rule. To that we attach one condition that one of our nominees should be given the Home portfolio. When we attach this condition, we do so neither out of malice or spite nor from evil designs. We do so because we are concerned, as former American Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew once said there, not with professions but with such precedents and records that existed in this country. This is, as you can see it, a very moderate proposition. But the Governor somehow or other finds himself unable to entertain it. Hence the deadlock. We have come down so much not because of any weakness on our part, but because we want to avoid any negative action which we do not feel desirable at this trying time when our country has suffered so much for the past three years and more. We have asked only for such minimum conditions even though we know very well that in the Governor’s construction of things he holds vital strings not only in a legal sense but also such important subjects as Defence, Finance, and so on, because and only because as I have said, we desire to show our readiness to work for the reconstruction and freedom of our country peacefully. But this is not to be. The powers that be are giving lip service to sweet sentiments while they are at the same time attempting to establish economic fascism in our country. Thus they are willfully shutting their eyes to factual posture of things, going about, openly flouting popular opinion in this country, denying us opportunities to present our case and slandering us in the eyes of the world, trying to undermine our strength in many imaginable ways, and subjecting us to a number of little provocations. But we shall not be provoked. We know we will win in the end, we know our strength and we need not to hustled into action. We will take our own time and will march to our freedom without unnecessary sacrifices on the part of the people. These are the questions we are considering. Let the Governor if he so wishes, evade reality and resort to his ways of manoeuvre, let him resort to his political guerilla tactics and his grand strategy of economic fascism. But we are not perturbed. We know his political guerilla warfare will fail, as the secret of successful guerilla action lies only in the sanction he does not and cannot have.

Very well, then, what is our programme and how do we intend to go about it? You have already known that our objective is the right of our nation to self-determination, and our proposals to the British Government for realising this objective are immediate elections on universal adult suffrage and then convocation of Constituent Assembly. In the meantime we have suggested that there should be a National Government which will be competent to deal with the British Government for whatever arrangements that must be deemed necessary to be done for the eventual transfer of power to the hands of our people. But the British Government merely gives us a White Paper with vague promises about the so-called Promised Land of theirs – Dominion Status within an indefinite period of time. Now that, the British may not give us what we want what shall we do, you will ask? What if no early elections? It won’t be difficult for the British Government to hold elections early if only it is willing to do so. Preparations for them can be made within six months. If the British Government says that it cannot finish those preparations, that only proves to be an argument against them. For what is there to do about general elections? Franchise and electoral rolls only. Communications there are sufficient for the purpose of holding elections. In the past some elections had been held in worse conditions of communications. Franchise? That can easily be decided. We have spoken our views on this matter. And we are putting them up again at this Congress. I need not repeat here. Others have done the same. Electoral Rolls? They can be prepared within six months. It has been proved to be possible elsewhere and before. What else? There must be conditions for fair and free elections. We agree; but we are not in the way. “The country must be at peace.” Exactly. I think I can claim that barring some dacoities which existed before and which exist now and in other countries too, including Britain, ours is about the most peaceful country in the east. Very well then, inspire of such arguments, elections may not be held. Then the logic of historical events will take its own course and decide for us. We will reconstruct our country with the help of our people and we will reconstruct our way to freedom? We are placing a rough programme before you at this Congress. I need not dilate upon them. I wish to say only a few things. Though it is a fairly comprehensive programme, we need not be too ambitious at first. We start on a modest scale in a developing form. And we must do first things first and begin with basic things such as relief, supplies, transport, communications, law and order, education, housing and public health on a progress scale. And we must for our success apply principles of co-operation wherever necessary and practicable.

Supposing we get elections all right, but not Constituent Assembly? Our view on this is that Constituent Assembly does not descend to us, it can be and will be forged by the very logic of events. So if the general election comes, we will, with your support, win it and force British imperialism to meet us squarely or else the inevitable music. If there are no such opportunities for determining the destiny of our people and freedom. This does not mean the static theory of parallel Government tactics which some people suggest. This is the dynamic people’s strategy and tactics which is far superior to the Atomic bomb, for once our people are organised and fully mobilised conscious of their creative power and historic destiny then no dead material force, however great, can stand this people’s general offensive.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * IV * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This leads me to come to the task of organising and mobilising our entire people in the country for our common national objective. Of course the first thing before us is national unity. Now we have the AFPFL as the central organisation symbolising this. We must further consolidate its position, systematise it and develop it. We have placed our suggestions for its constitution and further improvement before you. But here I want to discuss what we mean by national unity and what form it should take. By national unity, we don’t mean only unity; we mean the unity of the entire people, irrespective of race, religion, sex and sectarian and party interests, in action and not in words for national takes and objectives. As for the form this country is to take, there are some views that all parties should merge their identities completely with the national organisation. Those holding such views are genuinely concerned that the existence of parties may undermine the strength of the national movement. But we must face this question as a practical one. Parties will exist even after their formal abolition if I understand by “Party,” it means an organisation of people holding more or less the same view on questions of the day and representing definite interests whether they are the interests of workers or peasants or others. What is important is not exactly that they exist or do not exist but that they will engage in partisan activities detrimental to national interests. On all national questions, they should and must come together and work together without any sectarianism in the affair. Their role as parties should be confined to such as persuading the greater bulk of such representative body of the national organisation as this conference to their school of thought. In other words their role should be educative and not partisan. If this is so, the existence of parties will not be a source of weakness of our organisation. In this way we can develop dynamically to a higher and higher form of unity till we have the best we can have. This is our primary task.

Next we must tackle the many questions of propaganda, organisation and reconstruction. To be able to do all these, we must have the personnel to carry out these things – personnel prepared to work for the love of work for the nation, and qualified to do it, those who will plan and execute and train people who will execute. In other words, we must have a well-established General Headquarters, planning, directing and executing political and economic tasks. In this respect we need many volunteers from those qualified sections of the people prepared to place their services at the disposal of the nation. I therefore send out this call to those who will, to come out and serve in our organisation and for that purpose to come and register their names and say what and how they can do to help us in our tasks. Their services will no doubt be gratefully received and remembered by the nation.

But this is not enough. This general headquarters must be equipped with up-to-date technique and apparatus and facilities for propaganda, organisation or any other task. This only brings us to the last but most important question – Funds. We must have Funds, and Funds again. Of course we shall devise ways and means of getting it in a self-supporting way, but first and always the public must come forward to finance this organisation which is after all their organisation.

So then, these are the tasks before all of us. I say then to you: come and let us do them and achieve them, for it is in our power to make or mar our destiny. Above all, have no doubt about your creative power which can move mountains and even Heaven. And what Heaven on this earth can stand before the united will and wisdom of our people conscious of their strength and power and harnessing it firmly to the chariot wheels of history? We are out for ordered progress and we will, with your hearty co-operation, win our freedom peacefully and speedily.

***** Anawratha - One of the greatest Kings of Burma in Burmese History. He reigned over one thousand years ago with his capital in Pagan. He was the first monarch to unify the whole country, was responsible for introducing Buddhism in Upper Burma by defeating the reactionary clericalism of the Aris who were the corrupt priests of the day. Feudalism was introduced in Burma in his time.

***** Aris - Priests in Anawratha's time before the introduction of proper Buddihism. They preached such nefarious doctrines that any sinner could escape from sinning by means of some incantations. They directed every bride to be sent to their monastries on the first day of the marriage, etc.

Critique on British Imperialism

Members of the Supreme Council

Over three months have elapsed since the first Congress of AFPFL. During that period, much water has flowed under the bridge, internationally and internally. Internationally, the prospects of world peace have become none too bright. In the U.N.O. and outside, the obsolete tactics of power politics has re-appeared visibly in a new garb; the time-worn theory of Balance of Power, the vain endeavour to re-distribute spheres of influence, the futile attempts to re-establish the old, effete world which is no longer tenable in the new circumstance of peace, these again are featuring in world politics. The Soviet Union and its supporters on one side and the Anglo-American combination on the other are fighting the furious battles of peace. One could not have but wished fervently that these battles of peace might not deteriorate into battles of war. Attitute towards fascist Franco’s Spain, the situation in Greece, China, Indonesia, etc., still remain obscure and undefined. The Peace Conference originally scheduled to take place in this month is still to come and prove its competence to solve effectively the problems of peace. Meanwhile dissensions in Foreign Ministers conference swelled and grew and did not show signs of abating. Already one seems to hear the distant rumblings of another war, a war which, in the words of that sailor-statesman Lord Louis Mountbatten, will be “a war of colossal destruction and of immense distances.” Those words like “Freedom, Democracy” etc., which not long ago rang so loudly out of the fury and din of the clashes of arms clanging through the world, seem to be dying away in the distance. O tempora! O mores!

I am not a cynical pessimist, but I must warn you all that reaction in the world is striving very hard to raise its head again. This, then, is the general picture of world at this moment. What of the situation in our own country? Again I must tell you frankly that it is continously worsening. Under the hammer blows of events, our people are reeling and suffering unprecedentedly. It is my purpose in this address to review the situation in our country at great length. Before I do so, I must ask you to join with me in mourning the death of a valued comrade of ours, U Chit Maung, who was, until a month and a half ago, alive and helping us actively with his wise counsels in the Executive Committes and Supreme Council of our national organisation. We greatly miss his presence in this conclave of ours. We send our heart-felt sympathies to his bereaved family.

At a Press Conference held on 25th April 1946, I gave a short sketchy review of the situation in our country. I then stated: - Money is scarce. Prices of consumer goods are high while those of rice and paddy are relatively too low. Agriculture is in chaos, and harvest and crop yield are not good. The food(rice) situation in Burma is continuously deteriorating. Education is in shambles. Salaries, allowances and wages are extremely low everywhere. Reports of acts od discriminations between servants and employees of Government, and of Government-subsidised companies and corporations are frequent. Law and order is seriously jeopardised. Political persecution is getting into stride. Civil liberties are still being severely curtailed, emergency laws and Defence Act continue. There are growing signs of discontent amongst peasantry and labour. The salaries of teachers have all along been low. Now they have been brough much lower. Even then, not all teachers are paid. In particular, the vernacular teachers suffer most. The situation amongst peasantry in several districts is getting from bad to worse. They have no sufficient wunsas (food grown by cultivator for domestic consumption), and yet they have to sell whole or part of their wunsas to repay Government loans, to pay taxes and rents and to buy essential commodities. In a number of cases, cultivators have been evicted from their holdings. But Government up to now is following a policy of drift. The situation is thus anything but a happy one.

To my above rough survey of our national situation, the official organ of Government “The New Times of Burma” wrote an edirorial rejoinder two days later. They agreed with my finding that the situation in our country is not happy. However, they did not agree with my diagnosis of the causes of the present situation. To my comment that money is scarce, they made a counter-comment and said: “Our observations (italics are mine) suggest that there is more money about than ever before. So much so that a wise economist has urged that a good deal of it should be taken out of circulation by savings until prices are nearer their pre-war value.” Here then are two diametrically opposite observations. I observe that money is scarce. “The New Times of Burma” observe that it is not so and therefore they say that even a wise economist has urged that a good deal of it should be taken out of circulation. In either case, it must be noted, it is only a case of observations. Now all that I would like to ask “The New Times of Burma” is on what grounds their observations are based. Do they form their observations by seeing the attendances at not very many cinemas and theatres of Rangoon? Do they judge this question of money circulation by paying a stray visit to a local bazaar? Do they know that cinemas and theatres are not true indicators, at least in Burma, of the people’s conditions? Do they know that there are many in this country who cannot think of going to these places by having to struggle for their bare existence from day to day? Do they know that those who nowadays patronise or frequent cinemas and theatres which exist only in Rangoon and a few big towns, belong generally to middle and upper classes and the very few of the many poor who can attend at all are doing so as a desperate form of relaxation just to make them forget their unsupportable existences for the while whatever may be the to-morrow that awaits them? I have been through a good many places in this country. I have known personally the actual plight of several people in several places. I also know that when the Japanese currency was abruptly declared null and void by the British Military Administration, even before the whole country was occupied and before the people in the countryside has knowledger of it, commercial adventurers from towns dumped all their currencies on the country folks in return for goods and thus aggravated the situation beyond measure. I have already referred, very briefly no doubt, to this point in my presidential address, delivered at the first Congress of AFPFL. The money certainly is not in the hands of people, whatever may be the argument of “The New Times of Burma.” After all, we know very well that even before the war the greater bulk of the people were very poor while only a few, who were mostly Europeans and foreigners, were rich and in their hands was accumulated the far larger amount of the wealth of our country. Now this position has become much more accentuated. For the cost of living is four times higher than pre-war level according to the Burma Gazette only twelve days ago, and even if we assume that the figures they gave are correct and grant that there is a general fall in prices of essential commodities (which, however, I doubt for a good many reasons), it is still quite higher. Place this factor alongside of the havoc done by war, such as the fall in production, the absence of export returns, large slaughter of cattle, destruction of homes, materials and transport and the after-effects of the war such as bigger corruption, malpractices, maldistribution, increase in dacoities, with low prices of the main staple product of our country (rice and paddy), low wages etc., etc., anyone who is prepared to face facts must agree, then that money is scarce or, at any rate, not in the hands of the people. We would very much like to know exactly from the authorities concerned what the volume of money in circulation is like. Then we can compare with the pre-war condition, and also we must not forget here a huge amount od dislocations caused in our economy and finance by the Japanese occupation which resulted in pre-war currencies being replaced by the Japanese currencies which flooded this country and the huge consumption and appropriation of our goods, gold and silver by the Japanese war machine with no return in kind, etc. When therefore, it is said that there is more money about than ever before, a superficial comparison between the pre-war circulation and the present circulation will not give us a true perspective of things. For even if the amount of money in circulation is larger than that of pre-war period, that cannot mean in our country that there is too much money which must call for attempts to withdraw a good deal of it from circulation. The volume of money in circulation must be judged in relation to the actual cost of living in general and if for instance the cost of living now is over four times higher than before the war, and if the amount of money in circulation now is nearly two times higher than before the war it cannot be said that there is more money about than ever. And, as I have pointed out above, we must not forget the intervening factor of the Japanese occupation which upsets the equilibrium of our country’s economy and finances and complicates the present situation all the more. Therefore when we tackle the inflationary situation, it is necessary that we do not over-correct ourselves and swing from one extreme to another. For in that case there will come about deflation, a deflation which will be far worse off than a usual sort we conceive it to be, in that the prices are still uneven and high, and the income of the people in general is very low, in fact lower even than pre-war level, according to my observation.

If Government or we desire really to know the true economic and financial position in the country, it is not by superficial observations such as looking at attendences at a few theatres and cinemas or a crowd of people in a bazaar stall struggling to buy daily necessities which for many have to be severely reduced in amount and kind, just enough for their bare subsistance, but by a deeper and more factual survey that we can hope to get a true picture. If at all we must withdraw a good deal of money from circulation, it is not by cuts in wages and salaries and allowances (so far adopted by the Government) of middle and poor classes but by curbing the activities of profiteers, hoarders, exporters of money outside of Burma, etc. And also by devising measures to take money out of the keeping of the rich few for circulation among the people in general we should rectify the present economic condition of the people.

Now I shall come to deal with the prices of commodities. What I said was prices of consumer goods are high while those of rice and paddy are relatively too low. I know and everyone knows that Burma cannot be immune from world-wide trends; but the point I want to drive home is that the prices of essential commodities must be so fixed as to be fair both to the procedures and the consumers and that the present hiatus between the prices of consumer goods and those of the only staple product of Burma, on which the walfare of the greater bulk of our population depends, is certainly undesirable from any point of view of economics. As I have said, prices must be kept down by increasing the volume of consumer goods and also by other means; at the same time necessary measures must be taken to make the money circulate among the people in general. While the prices of consumer goods are, on the average, five or six times higher than pre-war level, the prices of paddy and rice are about the same as in pre-war days. Government agents are paying for paddy and rice only Rs. 180 and Rs. 540 respectively, must less than even what some private traders are paying, for the latter are paying Rs. 230 and Rs. 600 respectively. Government say it is not their intention to peg the prices at these figures but Government being the biggest buyer, the prices paid by them become more or less standard prices. Incidentally, I must say that Government should stop buying paddy or rice in deficit areas. By deficit areas, I don’t mean only those areas which do not normally produce enough rice. Under normal circumstances, Pegu District is one of the biggest rice-producing areas but now badly short of rice. Serveral up-country places need rice but the required rice must come from surplus areas. Government should not adopt a policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

At the Congress of AFPFL held in January, we passed a resolution on agrarian questions of the day which inter alia, says as follows:-

“ (a) That the price of paddy be fixed at not less than Rs. 500 per 100 baskets to bring it to the price level of essential commodities;

(b) Standardised Baskets Act be applied systematically;

(c) The Government export the surplus paddy only;

(d) The Government purchase the paddy direct from the peasants;

(e) A Rice and Paddy purchase Board be formed, including the representatives of the peasants, taking measures to ensure that:

(i) only surplus paddy is exported; (ii) the profits from the government rice trade is declared; (iii) the profits made are spent only in such departments as are beneficial to the peasants directly; (iv) no pressure is resorted to in the purchase of paddy.”

The above extract from the resolution we passed on agarian question is almost self-explanatory. I need to explain only a few things. The full benefits of current prices of paddy and rice, whether of Government or private traders, cannot be availed of by the agriculturists because baskets are not standardised and vary in sizes from locality to locality; because the cultivators get varying prices from Rs.50 upwards for their produce which are bought only by agents and middle men. In fact very few of them get full Government or current prices. We have also come across instances in which pressure ie resorted to in the purchase of paddy. And it must be noted in this connection that the legal sanction can, if Government desires, be applied in bringing such pressure though as yet not applied officially. If Government feels that to raise the prices of paddy to something like Rs.500 is not desirable, then the only other rational and equitable alternative is to bring down the price level of other essential commodities by all legal, economic and administrative measures open to them. As it is, while Government attempt to keep the price of paddy down, the prices of other essential commodities are allowed to rise up. Vegetable oil, for instance, fetches a current price nearly eight times higher than that of pre-war period. These trends of events cannot but remind us of the painful period of the Japanese occupation in Burma when we had more or less the same position. When “The New Times of Burma” gave us statistics and figures in regard to the cost of living and so forth, we cannot but receive them with a note of interrogation. Statistics and figures can be manipulated to suit one’s argument. As a philosopher once remarked, arguments and logic are not the same as reasoning and reality. In our common experiences, we know three or four months ago our cost of living was nearly ten times higher than our pre-war standard, and though there is some fall in this respect, it is not as rapaid and as steep as “The New Times of Burma” painted it to be. Our friends from “The New Times of Burma” cannot think of reducing the cost of living further except when more shipping and consumer goods are available, although we appreciate the steady increase in import of clothing and textiles. What then shall we say of the effects of black market and pro-fiteering, hoarding of goods and money, the still undesirable state of communications which remain as they were six months ago and back, maldistribution of essential commodities, prevalence of crimes and so forth, on the prices of commodities? Apart from these, is Government aware of the fact that not all clothings and textiles imported reach all parts of the country?

And now as to agriculture “The New Times of Burma” find it dificult to know just what I mean by “Chaotic”. At the Congress of AFPFL held in January, we resolved, among other things, on the following, in order to alleviate the present plight of agriculturists:-

Agrarian Affairs

“Burma’s economy is mainly peasant economy. The main task, therefore, is to rehabilitate immediately the peasant economy which has been destroyed to its foundation during the Japanese occupation. Owing to scarcity of cattle, agricultural implements and clothings and the rise of prices of essential commodities, the cost of cultivation has risen ten times. Yet the price has been fixed at Rs.120 per 100 baskets. The peasants are, therefore, inclined to abandon agricultural operation which are keeping them over-burdened with such heavy debts that they would become slaves to their creditors.

“This Conference demands that the following recommendations be adopted as a basis for the rehabilitation of agriculture with a view to increasing their prosperity and to enable them to take an interest in their work.”

1. Tenancy

A. That, owing to the change of currency, shortage of cattle and agricultural implements, rising cost of cultivation, rising prices of esential commodities and crop failure, the peasants not being in a position to pay rents for the year, 1945-46:- (a) an Ordinance exempting the payment of rents by tenants be promulagted. (b) An order remitting totally the land revenue for 1945-46 be issued.

B. That agricultural co-operative credit be established in big villages to enable cultivators to borrow money for immediate needs.

2. Agrarian Indebtendness

That outstanding agrarian debts be totally cancelled and an Act passed to control and regulate money-lending.

3. Cattle

(a) That, owing to shortage of cattle at the present moment, cattle slaughter licenses be stopped for good or for a definite number of years; (b) Cattle be imported from abroad and sold to the peasants at reasonably fixed prices; (c) Cattle breeding centres be opened; (d) Cattle loans be advanced as long-term loans to be repaid in instalments.

4. Rehabilitation

(a) That peasants be allowed to cut wood and bamboo from the nearest forest without payment; (b) The peasants be permitted to fetch sufficient timber to rebuild their dwellings; the government giving assistance in the case of people who live far away from the forests; (c) The Government issue loans for rehabilitation purposes.

The above resolution does not contain long-term and long range requiremets of the agarian population. It specifies only their immediate needs. If our friends, after seeing these immediate needs of the peasants, see how much and how far Government have done for the peasants, they will get some idea of what I mean by “chaotic” in describing the present state of agriculture. From the above resolution, our policy in connection with the payments of rents and revenues for 1945-46 is quite clear. To say that “no rent” and “no revenues” campaigns are launched or are generally supposed to be associated with AFPFL is, to say the least, highly misleading. What is happening now has been visualised by AFPFL as inevitable if Government does not take prompt measures which we suggested at our Congress. As a matter of fact, every credit should be given to AFPFL for the present situation not getting worse, for we have hitherto sedulously refrained from exploiting the situation to our advantage, or as the saying runs, fishing in troubled waters. We too earnestly desire, as indeed cultivators themselves do, to do everything possible to launch an extensive cultivation drive so that we might be able not only to feed ourselves but also the starving millions in the world. But surely, without the essential prerequisites to enable extensive cultivation which we pointed out in the resolution above, to ask our peasants to produce rice and yet more rice simply means to ask them to make bricks without straw. And what have Government done to fulfil those immediate needs of the peasants? Government no doubt has decided to advance agricultural credit to the extent of three crores of rupees and a subsidy of Rs.12 for every acre of fallow land brought back into cultivation. But seeing the complete absence of normal sources of credit now, the large destruction of cattle, ploughing materials and homes, etc., and a host of other factors engendered by a war twice fought over our soil, the economic life of the peasants has been thrown so much out of gear that the situation calls for more and direct assistance from the Government which must also be prompt and quick, for for already the cultivation season has arrived, and our former Governor will surely know very well that much also need to be prepared before the actual cultivation starts. Rs.12 subsidy is, of course, quite attractive on paper but unless, in practice, it goes to all agriculturists who bring back fallow lands into oultivation whether they worked any land or not last year, only a small percentage would benefit by it.

Welcome India

On behalf of the people of Rangoon and Burma, I feel very happy indeed to welcome to this land of ours, Mr. Sarat Chandra Bose, a well-known leader of Bengal and India and, what is more, a great brother of a greater leader and patriot of India – Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Mr. Sarat Bose has come to this city to offer the benefits of his legal talents in what is popularly known as “I.N.A. trials.” But unfortunately the fascistic bureaucracy in this country, for fear of being exposed in their true, naked colours, cannot persuade themselves to allow patriots of India like Mr. Bose to come in and plead for their compatriots now on trial for “supposed” high crimes and offences committed during the days of Netaji’s Provisional Government of Azad Hind. A considerable number of our people in this country too are at this moment facing the same sort of trials for the same kind of “alleged” offences and crimes. Where, in the event of a free India and a free Burma, these people now on trial would have been treated as patriots, they are now taken for such patriotic action that they displayed during the three or four years of the World War which ended a year ago or so, apparently for the satisfaction of bureaucratic pride and retributive justice. We all know very well that these I.N.A. prisoners or the prisoners of our country similarly situated are truly decent and honest citizens incapable of doing wilful wrong to anybody. But then in the eyes of foreign imperialist bureaucracy ruling both our countries, they have become great sinners; almost unpardonably, it seems. Unhappily, such facts serve but to remind us, with relentless pertinacity, of the chains of slavery that bind our two nations still.

During the recent World War II, we heard a lot about “Freedom” and “Democracy”. Immediately after war even, we heard so much of “let us forget and forgive” attitude. To our country the British Government declared in their Parliament at that time that they came back not as conquerors but as liberators. During these few months, British Government have been busy staging many a “dumb show and noise” in India, proclaiming to all the world with their hands on their hearts that India would be granted independence if she so desires. But if I shall not be far wrong, all these proclamations will come to nothing in the end and at any rate have not, to our eyes, so far produced any visible result that can lead India as speedily as possible to her goal of national freedom. Instead we have these trials by digging up the past during which they left us to our fate, the past of which they knew nothing and did not care to know anything. And let me ask those highly-placed people responsible for bringing about these trials, this question: Is it how they are directed by the British Government to show their goodwill to India and Burma and to prove their sincerity of purpose in relation to Indian and Burmese Freedom? But I forget, they are our master still, today, whatever they may be tomorrow and therefore what they do as our masters must only be right. For have they not the immortalised motto of their legal wisdom, which says: “The king can do no wrong”. And are not their courts of law administering the King’s justice in the King’s name? It is all a question of bureaucratic pride which, in fact, is no longer impressive to us in any way. But certainly, this is not the right way of showing their goodwill and proving their sincerity of purpose, and they will have themselves to blame if they do not and cannot get any responsive echo from us by having such trials and lawless laws in the world of the words of the late Deshbandhu C.R. Das, such as Defence of Burma Act and emergency laws in our country.

But today, I am not so much concerned with things like goodwill and sincerity of our foreign rulers. In spite of our foreign rulers, in spite of their sincerity or insincerity, both India and Burma will be free in a not too distant future and then, doubtless, all such patriotic prisoners as are now on trial in India and Burma and elsewhere will be free and honourably acquitted. There need be no doubt about this. For the tide of history has now pushed India and Burma inevitably and irresistably to the path of immediate freedom, and that tide cannot be turned back any longer by British imperialism which is today extremely weak economically and militarily. British imperialism, however still hopes to be able to divide our ranks and rule us still longer. We in this country are fully determined to face this prospect and defeat the imperialist game of manoeuvre decisively in a not too distant future. We will not allow ourselves to be divided any more, we will win our freedom none too long. For is it not the inherent right of any people anywhere in the world to strive to win their own freedom, and have they not the right to revolt against any and every form of tyranny, oppression and exploitation, foreign as well as domestic? No nation has the right to rule another nation, and if any oppressed nation attempts to overthrow their oppressors, why should that act be considered treasonable or traitorous? When Netaji Subhas Bose attempted to drive out foreign rulers from his own country during the past three or four years, it was perfectly right of him to do that as a patriot of India. When we did the same sort of thing in our country, both in regard to the British imperialist rule and Japanese Fascist domination, we feel thoroughly justified to have taken such courses, and we pride ourselves for such deeds. There may be some among us in India as well as in Burma who may not agree with what we did because they do feel that we took the correct steps. But who can deny or challenge the patriotism of Netaji or ourselves, who can say definitely that we took the wrong paths? Only history, and none of us, who are too close to events, can definitely give the true verdict. I knew Netaji, even before I met him for the first time in Calcutta in 1940 by reading various accounts of his life of sacrifice and struggle and, last of all, his own book "The India Struggle" which was in these days banned in India and Burma. I knew Netaji, as I came into close and frequent contacts with him during this recent World War. I knew him and I knew his burning love of his country and his people, and his unflinching determination to fight for freedom of his country. I knew him also as a sincere friend of Burma and Burmese peoples. Between him and myself, there was complete mutual trust; and although time was against both of us so that we could not come to the stage of joint action for mutual objects of the freedom of our respective nations, we did have an understanding in those days that, in any event, and whatever happened, the INA and BNA should never fight each other. And I am glad to tell you today that both sides did observe the understanding scrupulously on the whole, during the days when we were up in arms against the Japs.

We have today with us and amongst us the great brother of this great patriot and leader of India – I mean, Mr. Sarat Chandra Bose. We welcome him with open arms. We welcome him with all our heart and soul. We welcome him as one of the leaders of India himself, and we welcome him as a great brother of a great Indian. Let me take the opportunity of telling him that, as far as the AFPFL of which I am President and which is admitted on all lands to be the only popular political organisation in this country is concerned, our policy towards India and Indias in this country is one of the broadest conception and generosity, and Mr. Sarat Bose may find it for himself in the statements, resolutions and speeches of AFPFL which I have presented to him. We have no axe to grind, we nurture no feelings of racial bitterness and ill-will. We stand for friendly relations with any and every nation in the world. Above all, and after all, we stand for more than friendly relations with our neighbours. We want to be not merely good neighbours, but good brothers even, the moment such course should become possible. We stand for Asiatic Federation in a not very, very remote future, we stand for immediate mutual understanding and joint action, whatever and whenever possible, from now for our mutual interests and for the freedom of India, Burma and indeed all Asia. We stand for these, and we trust Indian national leaders in India implicitly. A few months ago, that is, I think, in March, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru stopped for one night in Rangoon on his way back to India from Malaya. At that time, I met him and we discussed these questions for about two hours. And now I am glad to have this further opportunity of having Mr. Sarat Bose in our midst so that we can still elaborate so many of our joint plans and actions together and so that we may hasten the days of Indian and Burmese freedom even much more speedily than they would come. Therefore, once again, on behalf of the people of Rangoon and Burma, I offer Mr. Sarat Bose a heartiest welcome to this city and our land. I would ask Mr. Bose to make himself perfectly at home during his stay in Rangoon for these few days, and he may rest assured that we will do everything possible to make him completely at home


The Situation and Tasks

I. Basic Demands of Our People


We meet today again in order to discuss the existing situation in Burma in relation to world events, and further to discuss questions of our struggle for freedom. You know very well what are the basic demands of our nation. They are, firstly, the formation of an interim national government vested with full powers of a responsible democratic government and representing principal political groups in our country. Secondly, we want to have elections on adult franchise. Thirdly, such elected representatives of the nation should form a Constituent Assembly free from any foreign control, to frame a constitution for a free, independent Burma. These are our clear simple basic demands. Can the people of Burma realise these basic demands? I think, we can. But this depends upon the strength of our unity and organisation, on our ability to correctly gauge trends of events about us and prepare ahead, in our constant and sedulous awareness of our strength and our limitations, for any and every possibility, good or bad, that events might unfold to us. And, without doubt, we must leave nothing to chance and must be able to avail ourselves of any advantage offered in a situation, national or international, objective or subjective, etc. Only then we can be successful completely and in due time. As I see it, the international and national situation as a whole is favourable to help make our tasks successful in a not very long period and, may be, even peacefully. I shall, first, discuss with you questions of our respective tasks in general and those of national struggle for freedom in particular. I shall begin with international situation first.

II. The International Situation

Let us first see the favourable side of the picture in analysing the international situation. Here are some of the salient features. Complete military defeat of all principal Fascist states, overwhelming victory of democratic ideology over Fascism, and general elimination of extreme Rightism throughout the world, a more powerful League of Nation (U.N.O) in which the two most powerful states in the world, namely U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. participate actively; China's rise to the position of one of the Big Five in the U.N.O, though for the moment clouds of civil war darken over her horizon; Asia's awakening and rising strength as can be seen in the armed struggle of Indonesia, developing independence of Indo-China, the independence of the Philippines, the coming of a free, independent India (I am not referring to present arrangements being done by the British Government in India), Malayan politicalisation, rise of a progressive young Thai Party in Siam, rising and increasingly powerful nationalisms of the Middle East compelling the recognition of the independence of Transjordan, withdrawal of long-occupied British troops from Egypt, the rising nationalism in Syria, Palestine, etc., democratisation of the people of the world as can be seen in victories of new democracies in Eastern Europe, republicanisation of Western Europe, the victory of the Labour Party in Britain, Africans' increasing consciousness, increasing democratisation of South America, developing independence of British Dominions, particularly Australia etc., gradual internationalisation of Burma's case, the Soviet Union's ascending strength and position in international affairs, U.S. twelve-point foreign policy, etc., – these form the favourable factors in the international situation.

Now the unfavourable side. Remnants of Fascist menace such as can be seen in fascist Spain, Mosley's organisation in Britain, Labour imperialists in Britain, Kuomintang Right-wingers, Indian vested interests in India and Burma-encouragement of reactionaries and even open Fascist acts by British imperialism and company in international and colonial affairs; continued existence of international capitalist trusts and appearance of new regional trusts and combines, the means of international propaganda being mostly in their hands; the reappearance of the old power politics of Balance of Power and Spheres of influence; British imperialism's physical appearance for the moment which hides its weaknesses from the observations of a good part of the world; continued existence of colonies and semicolonies; disunity in China; Hindu-Muslim disunity in India; imperfections of Siamese democracy, certain anti-Burmese sentiments there; British machinations in Siam and South East Asia; lack of positive international support for Indonesia; Malaya's amorphous racial questions; reaction still raising its head in the Middle East such as the extremely unsettled state in Palestine; brewing campaign for quarantining the Soviet Union from international affairs; U.S hydra-headed State Department and anti-Soviet Navy; lack of frequent and positive contacts and co-ordinated policies between oppressed and exploited peoples of the world which result chiefly in the Indian and African troops being used for suppression of natural and just revolts of oppressed and exploited peoples (including even their own at times) etc. – these form unfavourable aspects of the present international situation.

In the sphere of world relations, there is an increasing conflict of opinions between the Soviet Union on one side and the Anglo-American combination on the other. In Asia, China and the Middle East are the sorest spots while India and South East Asia (including Burma) are also of equal and vital priorities. I shall not be surprised if Asia, especially China, will become the beginning and prime theatre of war if the Third World War becomes a fact. Asia, or rather China was the beginning of World War II. This time it will be not merely the beginning but may even become the prime war theatre itself. For in Asia, in South Africa and South America, particularly in Asia where she is coming into her own and where almost all those powers dominating Asia and world politics as well as the Soviet Union and U.S.A are bound up somehow or other in Asia's tangled skein of geo-politics, international intrigues, rivalries and struggles will get keener and sharper and thus pave the way for World War III.That does not mean that the third World War is inevitable. Contrary to certain opinions and seemingly bad news from China in these few days, I am of firm opinion that large scale military struggle will not yet come for quite a time and that there will be only fresh and more intensive political maneuvers and mobilisations generally for the Peace contests by means of atomic, food, economic and slandering diplomacies. I don't however claim to be a prophet and cannot guarantee that this will be the case in international affairs. But this is the trend I can see.

As things appear to me, the Soviet Union and the Anglo-American Powers are engaged in keen competitions for the division of respective spheres of influence in the Middle East, Europe and the Far East, while British imperialism seems to be the spearhead of the combination for domination of South East Asia, with U.S.A. in the background consciously or unconsciously. Thus there is now, roughly speaking, a division of the world into two main camps, the division between forces of freedom and democracy on the one hand and forces of anti-freedom, anti-democratic reaction on the other; or rather between forces for the old world and those for a new world, between, so to speak, Old Democracies and New Democracies; and not between Democracy and Communism as it is generally painted to be. For from any point of view, communist or noncommunist, there is no immediate prospect of communism being successfully established anywhere in the world. Even in the Soviet Union where the Communist Party is the sole ruling party without any rival, by the admissions of the Communist themselves, only the primary stage towards Communism is still achieved, and they cannot as yet definitely forecast when full-blown Communism can and will be accomplished. To quote the far-famed Chinese Communist leader, Mao Tse-tung, to illustrate again, "Socialism (not Communism as yet, mind you) can be reached only through democracy; this is an undisputed axiom of Marxism.In China, the period of struggle for democracy will be, very long… In short, without the thorough, democratic revolution of a new bourgeois nature, to establish socialism over the ruins of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal China of today would be an Utopian dream. Some people cannot understand why the Kung-chautang (Communist party's name in Chinese), far from being unsympathetic to capitalism, actually promotes its development. To them, we can simply say this much: To replace the oppression of foreign imperialism and native feudalism with the development of capitalism is not only an advance, but also a necessary step; it will benefit not only the bourgeoisie, but also the proletariat. What China does not want is foreign imperialism and native feudalism and not native capitalism which is too weak. (Italics, mine) It is therefore clear that the ideological struggle now going on all over the world is not between Communism and Democracy, but as I have said, between Old and New Democracies. This conflict of ideologies is the reflection of the conflict of mutual material interests primarily and a result of lack of mutual knowledge and understanding secondarily.

This rough demarcation of the world into two main camps must be examined here more minutely again. For we should not run away with the simple idea that this will be the case henceforward everywhere and every time. There are and still be, I think, several intervening factors, forces and circumstances retarding, diverting, breaking, intensifying, complicating this simple or perhaps over-simplified picture of alignments and re-alignment throughout the world or regionally or nationally, as the case may be. To view the world now just as a simple uniform picture of two camps only will be not only undialectical but also untrue in fact. For we cannot ignore the fact that in any and every country with the possible exception of the Soviet Union there are two nations at least, the one helping forward and the other retarding forces of historical progress. We cannot also ignore another salient fact that, though several imperialisms appear to be tending towards processes of unification cutting across national barriers, there are still several difficulties, contradictions and hesitations amongst themselves and with themselves, one to another and so forth. At any rate they dare not yet come out and say that they place the interests of imperialist class above even the interests of their respective nations. For above all, they fear and tremble before the incalculable and immeasurable prospects and effects of the atomic power of the peoples' wrath or creative efforts to which the physical effects of all the atomic bombs available throughout the world are nothing comparable. In other words, they fear their own respective peoples and the peoples of the world and dare not come out in the open and show their true colours. In that dilemma, some of them are somewhat resigned to the coming and rising forces of New Democracy in their own countries, possessions, and the world. But a great majority of imperialism have not yet admitted defeat and want to try to play their old games of hide and seek while a few are adamant and want to go all-out against rising forces of history and braving even the very real prospects of breaking their heads over such adventures. Thus roughly speaking in the camp of world imperialism again, there are three subdivisions, the liberal type, the cunning type, and the desperate type.

Thus we may see that the developing alignments of the world into two camps will hedge up and down, back and forth, interlocking and un-locking, etc., Such developments will be a very long process and will vary from place to place, time to time. Hence we must expect several developments in the nature of international, regional and national groupings before the world is simply and fundamentally divided between two camps: the camp of the oppressor and the oppressed. In such perspective, we must take care that we take our due place in history and on the right side wile we do not commit ourselves irretrievably to any rigid or static position which may let us fall into several unnecessary scrapes.

How will this world-scale conflict be resolved in the end? It is in the lap of the future which no one can foretell definitely. Nevertheless, certain trends can be observed and perspectives visualised.

As far as I can see, the international situation as a whole is still favourable for us, in spite of certain apparent set-backs here and there.War, especially modern war and particularly this last World War II, has educated so many peoples in the world. Out of its ashes, imperialism survives no doubt, but greatly weakened and overwhelming democratisation of the peoples of the world including those of Britain and American has risen. The Day of Judgement for Imperialism is coming.

But, (and this is quite a big BUT) there is many a slip "twist the cup and the lip." Imperialism is not yet defeated completely and for all time. It is still strong, at least in appearances. Moreover it will not surrender easily and without a fight. A long drawn out, gasping struggle for its existence may be waged by Imperialism to the last ditch. What then are and will be the strategy and tactics of Imperialism? Does it hope to exterminate rising world New Democracy? Of course, not. A few die-hards in its camp might play with that imagination, but I believe a good number of imperialists do not hope to do that or rather to succeed in that direction. What then is its real and main objective? Its main objective is none other than its preservation, its maintenance of status quo ante, the continued prolongation of its domination of the world, and, at any rate, and at all costs and events, to defend against its complete extinction from the face of this world in which case it will fight a most desperate, bloodiest war, a war unto death. Imperialism entertains this hope of dominating the world still, mainly because of its possession of the biggest weapon, the weapon of propaganda, by means of which it hopes still to delude a good part of the world and its own peoples into wrong channels for a time, to an extent, at least. It hopes, again, to have fresh lease of life by atomic, food and economic pressure diplomacy, and by seeking new and more allies in the camps of various national and international vested interests, the reactionaries, the unwary, the wavering elements, etc., in various parts of the world. Above all, it hopes to play still its old game of divide et impera anywhere and everywhere permissible. It hopes thus to preserve itself, in different forms of course and a little more liberalised but not to the extent that will affect its fundamental or vital interests and position. But there will be no large-scale military struggle for this purpose, at least for some time to come, except when Imperialism is faced with an imminent prospect of extinction. And we have to remember here that imperialism is still dying hard and is not threatened with imminent death as yet. Why is it that imperialism will not wage large-scale military struggle for its continued domination of the world? Because it is not in a position to wage it. Even though outwardly it is strong economically (I am speaking of imperialism generally, not of British imperialism particularly), it is now involved in an insoluble vortex of post-war contradictions, mal-adjustments, dislocations, etc., It is veritably living a life-in death economically or, let us say, the life of a valetudinarian. But above all and after all, its people and the peoples of the world are its greatest stumbling blocks, for the peoples are now weary of war, strife and turmoil and want peace and want to buy it at any price and are not at all interested in the maintenance of the old world and are not sanguine about the old world benefitting them much or hoping to live again. Thus despite discovery of atomic energy and so forth, imperialism cannot and will not wage major military struggle for its preservation. It places its hope mainly in its self-deluded conceit of being able to play at various manoeuvres and forms of diplomacy some of which are mentioned above. In other words, the Third World War is not certain to come and, at any rate, still far-off.

History, however, has doomed Imperialism. It has sealed the latter's fate. Envisaging this perspective (not an immediate one), Imperialism trembles and shudders to know of it and gets into delirium and loses its head at times and thus commits stupidities, overreaching itself and thereby hastening the day of its end which it dreads so much. But this is one side of the picture only. On the other hand, rising and struggling New Democracies of the world also commit mistakes and serious ones too at times, giving the opportunity to Imperialism to catch them tripping and thus to recover its composure or rather sanity. Imperialism can therefore retain still a good part of its old wisdom and of late has been able a bit to recover some of its lost ground and prestige in the world and our country.

This, generally, is the vistas that the kaleidoscopic panorama of the world now open up before us, the vistas of continued world peace even though it may be ruffled and broken here and there on small scales, of peaceful possibilities of achieving international and national progress. For imperialism cannot and will not wage a general offensive, though it may threaten it, with so many domestic and international problems full on its hands and for several reasons I have advanced above. There are now, generally, peaceful possibilities for New Democracies to develop themselves logically and also rapidly. At any rate, they can avoid defeat, unless they commit stupid mistakes, for it is in their own hands and not in any other hands, that they can avoid defeat, if not yet able to achieve complete or rapid victories of their own which, however are conditioned by so many other factors such as international and national, political and organisational, and so forth.

Possibilities' however, are not probabilities, and will not certainly become actualities of themselves. We cannot bank our hopes on possibilities. We must put our trust in ourselves, in our capabilities and efforts and strength and preparations not only for our success but even to avoid our own defeat. The ability to avoid defeat and prepare, instead, for success comes to those and only to those who know in their very consciousness what are their strengths and weaknesses and what should be their tasks, national and international, objectives and subjectives, etc., who know, in their knowledge of their strength and limitation, of the factors with them and around them, etc., to use the knowledge they thus have to best advantage and use it actually and energetically. This is what really is meant by "genius" when we talk about it. There is no such thing as "natural" or "divinely gifted" genius. I don't believe in it. So many definitions are given of this blessed magic word. "Infinite capacity for taking pains." "Genius means catching the other fellow napping," etc. In the essence of thing, it is man's creative power and that alone which makes himself, his stars, his history, his Karma, etc., though no doubt he has to take necessarily due account of factors and forces around him. WORK, WORK, WORK, ACTION, ACTION, ACTION, SELF-RELIANCE, SELF-RELIANCE, SELF-RELIANCE. This is the stern, simple golden rule of timeless truth for any success that man makes. And there is no other rule which comes first before it. In other words, "God helps those only who help themselves." What then should New Democracies set tasks for themselves from the international points of view generally and specially. They must:

(1) First endeavour to achieve internal unity of democratic forces in their respective territories;

(2) Strive for, in our part of the world, for closer understanding, increasing co-operation and co-ordination and of mutual efforts for solution of mutual problems with nationalist India and democratic South East Asia (More active interest and support for Indonesia);

(3) Contact and understanding with rest of Asia, particularly China in our case;

(4) Understanding and co-ordination of efforts for the overthrow of world imperialism by all exploited and oppressed peoples of the world together;

(5) More fraternisation with democratic peoples of the world (in our case, the peoples of Britain and America);

(6) More alertness and great vigilance to prevent us falling into the net of imperialist wiles, to abstain from making serious mistakes of which imperialism can take advantage and to try to exploit any mistakes or stupidities or contradictions of imperialism, however little the chances that offer themselves to us.

These, then, are the tasks of New Democracies for the building of a new world of complete freedom, abiding peace and rapid progress.


An Address to the Anglo-Burmans

I have come here at your bidding and I am to do so. The welfare of all people of this country irrespective of race or religion has always been the one purpose that I have set out to fulfil. In fact it is my life's mission. Unfortunately, the country to which you and I belong is not yet free. Unless our nation has the freedom to plan our destiny and life in accordance with our head's vision and heart's desire, it will not be possible to promote the welfare of our people to the extent that we wish to do. At this moment my colleagues and I belonging to the AFPFL, of which I have the honour to be President, are endeavouring to carry out the main national objective, namely the question of obtaining the independence of our country as soon as possible. You might observe that my colleagues and I are Independence Wallahs and not in favour of "Dominion Status," or any other status. I do not believe that because Burma is unable to do this or that immediately that should offer any argument against her right to independence. The fitness of any nation for an independent form of government is to be judged not by the conditions and standards arbitrarily imposed upon her in her period of subjugation; it can only be judged when a nation is fully allowed to plan her destiny and to order her life freely.

Arguments are advanced against the independence of this country in many forms. One argument is that Burma will not be able to provide adequate defence as an independent entity. This argument has proved to be quite hollow when judged in the light of recent events. In the recent World War II it had been proved that no nation, not even Great Britain herself, was able to defend herself alone against external aggression on a big scale. If the criterion of a nation's ability to defend herself is to be taken as a reason for the independence of that nation, then I am afraid no nation in the world deserves to be independent. As a matter of fact only in an independent Burma can we plan our defence to the utmost limits we may be capable, and only in an independent Burma shall we be able to arouse the greatest enthusiasm on the part of the people to defend their country and only then can we hope to have the best defence structure for this country.

Another argument against the independence of our country is that we have not sufficient finance to rehabilitate and reconstruct our country. Finance is only secondary and not the main thing which we must have in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of a nation. Our country has ample natural resources which indeed form the national wealth. So long as we have such ample national wealth at our disposal and we are in a position to utilise it to the best interests of our people, the question of shortage of finance should not worry us much. After all, even Britain herself has to borrow from the United States. We may similarly have to do the same, and if a Bolshevik Russia, outlawed and ostracised for years after her revolution of their country, could get loans for her rehabilitation and reconstruction there should be no difficulty in the way of Burma getting loans from other countries.

It is also pointed out that Burma lying as it does between the two biggest countries on earth is liable to be made a pawn frequently in the game of international politics. We have no cause to become enemies either with India or China now or in the foreseeable future. As such any bogey raised on account of the juxtaposition of our country with the two biggest countries in the World is only an academic one. It may be that situated as we are adjoining one another, there may be some minor differences on local issues from time to time, but this should not affect our fundamental interrelations to any great extent.

There is also another argument advanced against the independence of Burma and that is that we have not got a sufficient number of technicians. Japan, Turkey and Russia have proved that a nation is quite capable of running on her own even without having an adequate number of technicians at the start. What these countries each in its own way have done in this matter can likewise be followed in our country, and there should be no difficulty in our case too on account of lack of sufficient technical personnel.

While there may be many more arguments advanced against the independence of Burma, they will, one and all, fall through when we examine them closely. After all most of the things advanced as arguments against our independence are, in fact, inevitable results of our own subjugation. The best way to remove these is to have our country independent as soon as possible, for this is the only way we can fashion our destiny and order our lives in accordance with our vision and to our heart's content and, in that way remove those factors that may be used as arguments against our independence.

But by saying all these do we mean to remain isolated from the rest of the world? Certainly not. The one fact from which us nation, big or small can escape is the increasing universal interdependence of nations. A free and independent Burma is quite ready to enter into any arrangement with other nations for common welfare and security, etc. In such arrangements, the question of Burma's joining the British Commonwealth of Nations will, I hope, come up as one of the first things to be considered. When I mention the British Commonwealth of Nations, I am not referring to it as it has been conceived up to now and as it stands; I am envisaging a much broader construction which can reorientate itself to changing circumstances. Speaking for myself, as an ally of Free Burma, I would rather prefer the devil we know to the other devils we don't yet know. Yet inspite of such inclination on my part, if I finally choose other devils, it will be only because I have no other alternative and am driven to that conclusion by the logical events. Our nation, as indeed all other nations, cannot live without allies. We must have our allies and friends, and if we cannot win the friendship of one, we must try the others. We cannot live alone.

I am an internationalist, but an internationalist who does not all own himself to be swept off the firm Earth. I recognise both the virtues and limitations of pure nationalism, I love its virtues, I don't allow myself to be blinded by its limitations, though I knew that it is not easy for the great majority of any nation to get over these limitations. In so far as nationalism encourages us to love our people and love others, or at least encourages us not to hate others, there I am completely with nationalism. In so far as nationalism inculcates in us a sense of national and social justice which calls upon us to fight any system that is oppressive or tyrannical both in our country and the world, there I am completely with nationalism. I hate Imperialism whether British or Japanese or Burmese.

I believe in the inherent right of a people to revolt against any tyranny that people may have over them. No doubt their own convenience should not be a cause or causes for taking that path of revolt with all the good and bad consequences what it may imply towards the life of the community. But on the other hand, history has amply demonstrated the right of a people to its own freedom, and that once it is denied to them, even in the case of the peoples who belong to the same stock such as happened in the case of the founding of the American nation after the war of American Independence. There is therefore nothing wrong in the aspirations of a nation if it wants to regain the freedom that is its birthright and attempts to have it. There also I am completely for Nationalism. I believe with Abraham Lincoln in this respect that no nation has the right to rule another nation.

If such principles that I have just mentioned are principles of nationalism, well and good and I certainly think that we should foster them and adopt them. The implications of such principles also mean in my view that every nation in the world must be free not only externally (i.e., free from any foreign rule) but also internally. That is to say that every nation in the world being a conglomeration of races and religions should develop such a nationalism as is compatible with the welfare of one and all, irrespective of race or religion or class or sex. This is my nationalism and I believe that such a nationalism is but a complement of true scientific internationalism.

Nowadays, all the world over, we cannot confine the definition of a nationality to the narrow bounds of race, religion, etc. Nations are extending the rights of their respective communities even to others who may not belong to them except by their mere residence amongst them and their determination to live and be with them. Today the AFPFL of which I am President and the Government which AFPFL is leading have declared their policies quite clearly in this respect and you know them already. I am glad to know that you regard yourselves as nationals of this country. But if you regard yourselves as nationals of this country, it should not be sufficient by mere verbal declaration; you must identify yourselves in all national activities for national welfare. Let me be perfectly frank with you-your community in the past did not happen to identify yourselves with national activities; on the other hand, you were even frequently on the other side. Now you have to prove that you want to live and to be with the people of this country, not by words but by deeds. So far as I am concerned, I am perfectly prepared to embrace you as my own brothers and sisters.

During the dark days of the recent war when members of your community, whoever were left behind in Burma, had to undergo the worst of the ordeals they ever went through, I was pained and saddened to know their plight and in my quiet way I tried what I could to alleviate their sufferings. I was indeed sorry that I could not do more. And now when you ask me to be here to address you I put some of these home truths before you in all my honesty so that you may see the writing on the wall just as much as I do. Our country will be free and the world is changing tremendously. Those facts can no longer be hidden from you and me. In these changing circumstances, it is only right that you should awaken to a new sense of values with a new consciousness. A free independent Burma has great potentialities and quite full of promises for our people. We shall have to develop our ample natural resources to the full, we shall have to build many more communications, many more Industries, etc. There will be employments far more than the people in our country may be able to absorb. We must even invite technicians and experts from abroad. I understand that there are a lot of undue apprehensions amongst you in this and other respects. I want to tell you here that you should have no apprehensions on any score provided that you choose to identify yourselves with the people of the country not merely in words but in deeds.

Fascist Barbarism

Four years ago or so, war came to our country. And with it Japanese military fascism. Then in order to feed its war machine, our people were made to suffer and slave in various untold ways. Tens of thousands of our country people were forcibly sent to work on the Burma-Siam Railway and from 30,000 to 80,000 of them died in the most callous circumstances imaginable. We are now treading the ground which buried underneath the curses and groans of those thousands of dead. We enter upon this ground seared by this colossal tragedy with profound feeling and searching thoughts. We are filled with bitter sorrow that it should ever have happened. And we burn with sheer indignation over such wrongs as had been wrought by the Japanese Fascist barbarians against our nation and humanity. Nevertheless we may take comfort in the fact that Nemesis had already taken them to task. Our people also had risen as a man and avenged themselves on the Fascists. This is but an inevitable and inexorable law of Karma – that as a man sows so shall he reap and that if any individual or nation oppresses or exploits another and violates natural and social justice in that way that individual or nation shall pay for that sin against justice and humanity. The world has thus been visited upon several times for so much that men and nations have sinned against one another. So long as injustice and oppression and exploitation of man by man and nation by nation continue the world must come time and again to fall into the grips of Nemesis. This then is the stern moral law which events have impressed upon the world so emphatically, and this is how I read the writing on the wall and the signs of the times.

Today, when we have come here in revered memory of those thousands of our countrymen and Allied Personnel who verily were made to slave to death, we all must have felt that never never again may the world find a place for the existence of human slavery and exploitation in any form. As we offer our prayers in our sacred communion with the souls of those dead, we must pray not merely for them but for the world that humanity may rise above all limitations and find deliverance none too long. And as thus we pray, let us also vow to ourselves that we will not rest and remain complacent till we have completely rid this earth of such cancer of Fascist barbarity, whatever its variants as degrade humanity and perpetuate oppression and exploitation.
Asiatic Unity

In his broadcast from All-India Radio, Delhi, on Sunday night, U Aung San urged Asiatic unity and solidarity.

He said: "Apart from her historic and economic solidarity Asia is one, inspite of diversity on the surface and the colour of the people".

The Burmese leader expressed regret that he was unable to stay longer in India. He said that one of the aims of his visit was to meet Indian nationalist leaders and to see how the machinery of the present Indian Interim Government was working.

Earlier, U Aung San forecast a constitutional crisis in Burma if the Burmese leaders' demands were not conceded and the Burma question was unsettled by January 31.

"When I go to London, I must get a settlement. Otherwise, we come to a deadlock before January 31," he told a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday.

U Aung San said: "There is no question of Dominion Status for Burma. We want complete independence."

He added that the elections in Burma in April should lead to the formation of a Constituent Assembly without "Intermediate stages and the present Government in Burma must be turned into an Interim Government at once."

Asked if he would demand the withdrawal of British troops from Burma, U Aung San replied: "I do not think we will," adding, "Most of British troops in Burma happen to be Indian troops."

To a question, "Can there be free elections in Burma so long as foreign troops remain there?" U Aung San said, "We do not like the presence of foreign troops, but we have yet to know by experience that foreign troops' presence will stand in the way of free elections in the country."

Indian Troops in Burma

The Burmese leader declared that he hade discussed the question of the withdrawal of Indian troops from Burma with the Vice-President of the Indian Interim Government Pandit Nehru, the Defence Member in the Government, Sardar Baldev Singh, and the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Claude Auchinleck, adding, "We have not come to any conclusion yet."

U Aung San agreed that, pending the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Burma, he would demand that the Government of Burma should assume complete control of these troops while on Burmese soil.

He said that the position of the Burmese Executive Councillors was "funny". He added: "I am Defence Councillor to the Governor, who has himself no control over the armed forces. These forces come under the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Land forces in South-East Asia. Similarly, I am Councillor in Charge of External Affairs, but External Affairs are controlled by the Burma Office in London."

Defining the attitude of his party to "excluded and partially excluded areas" of Burma regarding Burma's future constitution, he said, "We do not want to impose my settlement on the peoples of the frontier areas. We offer them the option of joining with a great deal of autonomy. That is the policy of the Burmese Government. But the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League is prepared to go further. If these people in the frontier areas like to exercise a full right of self-determination, they can do so."

"I have been to some parts of the frontier areas myself," he said, "and met some of their leaders, and I can say that the much-boosted propaganda about the loyalty of these frontier peoples to the British Government is not true. If this time there is a struggle for independence in Burma, I shall not be surprised if there is a wide and deep stir among these people."

"No inhibitions"

Asked if another struggled became necessary in Burma, would it be violent or non-violent or both, U Aung San replied with a hearty laugh, "We have no inhibitions of any kind in Burma."

To a question whether he would like an interim cabinet for Burma on the Indian model, he replied amidst laughter, "After coming to India, I hesitate to say on the Indian model."

A correspondent who asked whether he would consider active help for Viet Nam was told, "We would like to help Viet Nam but charity begins at home."

To an Indian correspondent's question, "Do you apprehend that your delegation may not meet with the success you want?" he replied with emphasis, "I hope for the best but I am prepared for the worst."

Our Fraternal Greetings To the Siamese People

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our thanks are due to the Siamese Delegation for honouring us with a visit. The Delegation is led by no less a person than Phya Anuman Ratchathan, Director of Fine Arts of University of Chulalornkorn. Anuman holds a high place in the world of Literature and Arts in Siam, besides being a historian of international fame. An author of voluminous works, his "History of Faiths of Siam and Neighbouring Countries" has been regarded as an authority on the subject of comparative religion. It is a matter for gratification that a leading exponent of Siamese art and culture has come to this country and it is hoped that the contacts made would have important results in the national life of our two countries.

Our country before the war has had the privilege of welcoming goodwill missions from our Eastern Neighbour. And although our own preoccupation with our affairs had prevented our paying her our return visits, the relationships between Burma and Siam have always been characterised by the greatest possible cordiality and goodwill. A number of Burmans are residing in Siam; and during the last war, quite a number of Burmese families evacuated to the country. The result is that the ties of friendship are even stronger now than ever before, and there are now many in Burma who have come to regard Siam as a kind of their second home. Those of us who have visited Siam have been impressed by the overwhelming hospitality extended to us at all times by the Siamese. We appreciate these unfailing proofs of sincerity and friendship on the part of those, whom we regard as our kinsmen, and with whom we have many things in common. Our belief and traditions are in many respects similar. We have learnt to respect one another and to admire each other's prowess.

The national heroes that excite our utmost admiration are Alaungpaya and Phya Naret. Both the Shwedagon and the Wat Arun are objects of our common veneration, while the mighty Irrawaddy and the lordly Menam Chao Phaya with their myriad streams of life-giving waters will always command a sense of eternal gratitude and affection both in the Burman and the Siamese. These common institutions, traditions, and aspirations are significant, for they have helped to overcome one difference that exists between us – the difference in language. But this difficulty is overcome (?) practical purposes in the course of a short stay in Siam. For (?) Siamese spoken word is partial to the foreigner. The one overriding factor however that had in the past kept, and that should in the future always keep, our two peoples united is of course our spiritual affinity. It is the religious bond that binds Burma and Siam so closely. As you know Buddhism is the prevailing faith – the State Religion – in Siam. Siam takes pride, and quite rightly so, in her orthodoxy; and after Burma, Ceylon and Cambodia ceased one after another to be independent, Siam has had the honour of being regarded as the Defender of the Buddhist Faith. The Siamese Government has set an example to Buddhist countries by the far-reaching legislations introduced in the recent years calculated to enlist Buddhism in the cause of national unity.

As regards our future, our mutual interests and our past experience require that we should stand together. There must be no occasion for any misunderstanding between us, and no effort should be spared to foster still better and closer relations between our two countries. We believe that such close friendship can be maintained only by constant and intimate contact. With this end in view, and for the mutual benefit of our two countries, we propose to appoint a diplomatic representative of ours in Siam at an early date.

In conclusion, I wish to thank Phya Anuman Ratchathan and the distinguished members of the Siamese delegation again for giving us this opportunity of showing our high esteem for them, on the auspicious occasion of our Burmese New Year, our fraternal greetings to the Siamese People.

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