Shan State constitution draft #2, drawn up by activists on the Thai-Burmese border and published in 2009, is suddenly in great demand, following announcement by the Union Assembly in March to form a constitutional review body, according to reports presented at the Shan State Constitution Drafting Commission (SSCDC) meeting held in Chiangmai Saturday, 6 July.
The draft was written in English and translated in to Burmese, Kachin, Chinese, Kayan, Lahu, Lisu, PaO and Shan (“Official” language for Kokang and Wa is Chinese). “The Burmese-English text has already been printed twice,” said the SSCDC office superintendent.
The government’s easing on printed material, as well as on the screening of travelers criss-crossing the border also helps, according to a Lahu commissioner. “In the past, they just came to listen to our talks on the constitution on the Thai side of the border,” she said. “But they always refused to carry any copies with them back. But now they are demanding more copies. On my last trip, they took back 16 Lahu version copies and 60 Burmese-English copies.”
Many who have read it say the Shan State draft, drawn out of the guideline that it must be a state practicing federalism, is serving dual purposes:
- As a yardstick to the 2008 union constitution
- As a useful starting point for the drafting of a state constitution
The Union Assembly announced on 28 June the constitutional review body would be made up of 105 members: 52 Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP), 25 military appointed MPs and the rest from 18 other parties.
The first SSCDC was elected on 11 September 2000, headed by Sao Sengsuk (1935-2007) and the second by Khuensai Jaiyen under a 9-point guideline laid down by the Shan State consultation in 2007:
- A federal structure
- A democratic decentralized administrative system
- Sovereign power derives from the people of Shan State
- To be a member state of a genuine federal union
- To guarantee equality among Shan State’s ethnic nationalities
- To guarantee ethnic minority rights
- To guarantee basic human rights and gender equality
- To practice a multi-party democratic system
- To be a secular state
Khuensai said, “Burma must be made safe for and against ethnicity”