Vote for the change to democracy but not about good and evil

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Extracts taken and edited to Burmanize a very good article in MKini by Mervyn Lai, “True democracy not about good and evil”.

I propose an approach on how we should view every politician_

  1. (Government/military affiliated/opposition)
  2.  The politician is not a vessel of good or evil.
  3. She, or he, is a person.
  4. Just like yourself. There have clearly been days in which you have helped, and days in which you have been cruel to another.
  5. It is a sham if we believe that humans are capable of only good or evil in every moment of their lives.
  6. And like the rest of the world, politics is not a fairy-tale.
  7. The actors are not clearly separated into groups of protagonists versus antagonists.
  8. Politicians, it must be said, are representatives of various factions with possibly conflicting interests.

To understand why the politician has risen to the occasion, we must examine the cycle of ends and means.


  1. By ends, I mean her or his political objective.
  2. And by means, I mean the power needed to achieve it.
  3. And as said above, this is a cycle.
  4. We need power to achieve objectives,
  5. but the pursuit of objectives also leads us ultimately to positions of power.

And how do we achieve this governmental power?

  1. By winning elections.

    Political drama and good-evil distinction seems to have invaded politics,

  2. instead of agreements to disagree
  3. while at the same time acknowledging that both sides had the best interest of the country (or at least their voters) in mind.
  4. Perhaps this is similar in every democratic state.

According to game theory_

  1. if this is effective in stimulating the voters,
  2. then there is no reason why either side should openly acknowledge the possible ‘good’ in each other.
  3. They have a reason to exaggerate.
  4. The end justifies the method of obtaining the means, even if the method is a miniature version of the wrong in which the end tries to correct.
  5. We are led to believe that the government is all evil.
  6. We are led to believe that the opposition is all evil.

And while voters cater to drama and lap up this delicious spice to news, we are only providing an incentive for, say, the ‘good’ guys to act in ways that are not virtuous, possibly hypocritical.

  1. But to merely see this side is to ignore that there will be those who are in politics mostly for selfish gain.
  2. We must acknowledge, again, that all are human.
  3. Those who are good are capable of bad,
  4. while those who are bad, are also very much capable of good. As long as he or she has power.

So how do we know who to give this power to?

  1. We can never be sure.
  2. The cycle of ends and means creates the realistic possibility of achieving even more ends than originally intended once power has been achieved.
  3. Is it not human to take a small slice of that large ‘ends’ cake for ourselves?

But to stop here is very dangerous.

  1. It is perhaps better for someone to live in the dream of distinct good and evil and be motivated to cast his vote,
  2. than be someone who has realized a half-truth, finding elections pointless and a sham.
  3. Taking this realistic view of politicians can be de-motivating,
  4. as much as it is to accept the frailness of virtue within each of us.

But this is what true democratic elections lead to; accountability.

What has changed since 8888 is_

  1. the arrival of a tide. 
  2. But this is not a tide of color.
  3. It is neutral.

Slightly after the elections and before the next coming elections we are beginning to question the opposition,

  1. and this is a good thing when we have in mind the true nature of politicians. It is a tide of neutral thought.
  2. any people who actually sat down to think were possibly pro- opposition i.e. NLD, without question.
  3. But down the line their façade of rigid virtue began to crack,
  4. and we have seen that the opposition, too, is prone to bad habits or faults or inaction or slow to act.
  5. They are not heroes and warlocks.
  6. They are people who want to achieve an end, requiring a means; means in which we hold.

8888 and 1990 election was_

  1. not a beginning of just possible civilian rule,
  2. but a possibility of true democracy.
  3. True democracy does not distinguish good and evil,
  4. but check and balance.

The motivations of 8888_

  1. may have been illusions or half-truths,
  2. but we are closer than ever before to a two-party system, (civilian rule led by Daw Suu and NLD and military affiliated ‘civilian’ party.
  3. though we are not there yet. The doubt in our mind that Myanmar will ever achieve such a state still stands, and must be broken.

To achieve the two-party system_

we must show that the position of government is now a tower built on foundation that belongs to the voters. We give, and we take.

The reason I have written this is because of the looming Myanmar general elections.

  1. I am encouraging those who have realised the half-truths to register themselves now, and vote.
  2. Your vote matters.
  3. At the very real possibility of sounding biased (and I may very well be. You have no reason to trust my reason for voting who I will), my logic suggests that we vote for the opposition.
  4. Put aside good and evil, and think what we want to achieve.
  5. A true two-party system.
  6. Break the illusion and doubt, and bring down the stable pillars that the concept of Myanmar governing stands on.
  7. The coming elections shouldn’t be about policies.
  8. It should be about democracy.
  9. Everything else flows from there.

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