JC History Tuition Online - What happened in Myanmar in 1962 - Approaches to Governance

What happened in Myanmar in 1962?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 1: Approaches to Governance

Understand the significance of 1962 in the political history of Myanmar. [Video by Foreign Policy Association]

Historical Context: An unstable democracy
Following the assassination of the renowned political figure General Aung San on 19 July 1947, U Nu assumed leadership as Prime Minister in the civilian government of Burma on 4 July 1948. Although the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) won the majority (171 out of 182 seats), it was battered by continued political disunity. The fragmentation of the AFPFL took shape when U Nu sought to shape the coalition into a unitary party.

Consequently Swe and Nyein formed the Stable AFPFL but the League’s HQ was in possession by the Nu-Tin faction as the President (U Nu), the General-Secretary (Thakin Kyaw Tun) and the Treasurer (U Tin) were all in one group in opposition to Swe-Nyein. The Nu-Tin formed the Clean A FPFL implying that their AFPFL was without any dirty ones in it.

… The AFPFL split created two major problems: inheritance of assets and title of AFPFL, and the choice of arena for the final showdown between the two brawling factions.

An excerpt from “The Split Story” by Sein Win, 23 March 1959.

Insurgencies and the military intervention
In addition, civil war broke out in 1949 between the central government and different insurgent forces. Origins of these violent clashes can be traced to disputes over the terms of agreement made during the Panglong Conference. For instance, the 1947 Constitution stated that the Shan, Kachin and Karenni became autonomous states within the Union and could secede after ten years. Yet, other groups like the Karens were not involved in the Conference, thus they were not accorded equal rights as the above-mentioned groups.

It is thus clear that the signatories to the Panglong Agreement believed they were assenting to early independence from Britain and the perpetuation of their freedom from British and Burman interference in their internal affairs; that, whatever their commitment, it was not to permanent and irrevocable integration in an independent Union of Burma ruled by Burmans.

Nor did Panglong’s signatories represent all ‘the peoples of the Frontier Areas’. A delegation of four Karens arrived late at the conference, attended as observers and were not consulted … and the Chins of the Arakan Hill Tracts, Was, Nagas, Lushais, Palaungs, Paos, Akhas, Lahus and dozens of smaller tribes were not represented at all.

An excerpt from “Burma: The Curse of Independence” by Shelby Tucker.

In response to mounting political and social unrest, Prime Minister U Nu requested the military institution, helmed by Ne Win, to form a caretaker government in October 1958. The agreement was made to oversee the restoration of political stability before general elections were held in 1960.

Coup d’état: Ushering an age of military rule
As expected, the military handed over reigns to the AFPFL in spite of their borderline success at maintaining electoral dominance in 1960. However, public perceptions had shifted in favour of the military, given the incumbent’s ability to ensure stability. On 2 March 1962, Ne Win launched a military coup. The General became the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and Prime Minister of Burma.

General Ne Win’s assumption of power on 2 March 1962, while not unexpected, was nonetheless a surprise to many. It was executed in secrecy, and apparently even the deputy commander of the armed forces, Brigadier General Aung Gyi, was not informed until the next morning, though he must have been expecting it as early as November 1961, when he raised the prospect with colleagues.

… Two days later, Ne Win assumed all executive, legislative and judicial authority as Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. While the institutions of the 1947 Constitution were dismantled, so were the policies and activities of foreign institutions.

An excerpt from “General Ne Win: A Political Biography” by Robert Taylor.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of the military in the maintenance of political stability in post-independence Southeast Asia.

Join our JC History Tuition to find out more about the essay topic on Approaches to Governance. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online thematic studies to build up your critical thinking skills. Also, there will be essay and source based case study writing workshops to improve your answering techniques. Get useful study notes and seek feedback from our tutor to grasp the concepts well.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the New Society Movement - Approaches to Governance JC History Essay Notes

What is the New Society Movement?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 1: Approaches to Governance

Find out what happened during the EDSA Revolution that led to the end of Marcos’ rule in 1986.

Historical context: Declaration of the Martial Law
After Ferdinand Marcos held the second term as President of the Philippines in 1969, the government was hampered by the growing political divisions as well as the outbreak of rebellions.

On 23 September 1972, Marcos declared Martial Law, thus ushering a period of authoritarian rule.

Formation of the New Society Movement
In 1978, Marcos announced that elections would be held to form the Interim National Assembly (Interim Batasang Pambansa). In February, he formed the New Society Movement (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, KBL) that included officials from the Liberal and Nacionalista Parties.

It derived its name from the phrase Bagong Lipunan (“new society”), which Marcos claimed he was establishing with the Martial Law regime: a new society in the sense that it would be rid of the old society’s ills, such as graft and corruption, indiscipline, lack of respect for authority…

An excerpt from “Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor” (by Keat Gin Ooi).

The New Society ideology
Additionally, Marcos advocated the “New Society” to pursue economic modernisation and legitimse his rule.

We speak of a New Society…[Ours is] the dream that someday under somebody, we will be able to build a society that will give every man dignity and decency. And it shall return rationality into our political institutions, into our economy, and into our society… and this dream is what we are trying to implement now. It is the dream of every Filipino…that aspires for progress and modernization.”

An excerpt from “Development and Democratization in the Third World: Myths, Hopes, and Realities” [Edited by Kenneth E. Bauzon).

One of the notable economic policies was the “Prosperity 99” (Masagana 99), which is a self-sufficiency programme to provide credit access to rice farmers. By doing so, these producers can buy land and raise rice production.

Without doubt, the Masagana 99 program contributed significantly to the increase in the rice yield and in total production, especially in 1974 and 1975. The reports issued on Masagana 99 state that yield increases by the 900,000 participating farmers ranged from 0.4 to 1.2 t/ha, depending on the level of their former yields and the extent to which they had adopted modern practices.

An excerpt from “Rice in the Tropics: A Guide to the Development of National Programs” (By Robert Flint Chandler).

The end of Marcos’ Regime: The People Power Revolution
However, Marcos’ New Society was short-lived as internal political disunity and economic setbacks culminated in a large-scale mass demonstration, known as the People Power Revolution, in 1986. Eventually, Marcos left the Philippines, thus allowing Corazon Aquino to facilitate a peaceful democratic transition.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the political stability of the Philippines depended on political leaders?

Join our JC History Tuition and find out how you can consolidate your content for the Approaches to Governance topic, as well as other themes such as the Cold War and United Nations. Our programme is available for students taking either H2 or H1 History. You will receive concise study notes, essay outlines and additional references to make learning productive.

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