A Brief Biography of a Man Full Of Courage and Strong Determination: Phra Bwa Hla Phe

By Khun Thet Lu 
November 2001

I came to know a man full of courage and strong determination in a certain suburb of Taunggyi, the Capital of Shan State, in 1949. He looked very smart and serious on the stage while he was delivering a speech about revolting against the feudalistic to the audience. Moreover, he urged and encouraged the people to unite and join hands with their feudalists resistance movement forces, which would eliminate feudalism from Shan State. The man was U Hla Pe, or Kyaung Pan Thi, who led Pa-O people to fight against feudalism in Shan State.

U Hla Pe (or) Kyaung Pan Thi was born in Thonbaya Pin Sait village, Nyaung Pa Lin province, Thaton district on March 26, 1910. His parents were Phra Doon and Moe Nang Zee. He was the third son in his family. Nang Sein Kin and Phra Lun Moung were his elder sister and brother. Moe Houm Be was his wife. She was from Jockacheer village, Mai Kaung province, Hopone Township. U Hla Pe (or) Kyaung Pan Thi had two daughters and four sons. They are Nang Aye Kyi (Rangoon), Mi Doui, Po Toke, Po Thein(or)Zan Lween, Khun Pe Than (deceased) and Tha Moung (deceased).

U Hla Pe started studied in state Primary school, Nyaung Pa lin village, Thaton district, from 1916 to 1921. He continued his studies in Kyaikto city, Thaton district from 1921 to 1924. And he continued to learn higher education at St. Patrik school in Moulmein from 1924 to 1927. After passing the matriculation examination, he attended the university in Rangoon. He obtained a B.Sc Hons degree in Rangoon University in 1932. Moreover, he got a B.L degree (the Bachelor of Laws) from London University in England in 1936.

During the era of British colonialism, he was elected as a senator of Pyu laws in the South of Thaton constituency when the election was held by the British government in 1936. Then he was appointed as a parliament vice chairman led by Dr. Ba Maw in 1937. He also signed the agreement with sir Zan Si Po, Saya Shwe Ba, Sysaney Luri and other nationalities. The agreement state that the Pa-O people and other nationalities would cooperate and work bravely for progress. Moreover, he look part in Burma Twart Yart Gaing led by Dr. Ba Maw, General Aung San and Thakin Nu to oppose British Colonialism. He served as a Senate Secretariat from 1939 to 1942. He joined and worked with General Aung San, U Thant, Thakin Nu and U Lun (Saya Gyi Thkin Lo Thaw Mine) enthusiastically when he was a university student in Rangoon.

In junuary 1942, fascist Japanese occupied Burma. Then on June 4, 1042, Japanese military Commander General inda invited Dr. Ba Maw, UBa Pe, Dr. Thein Maung, Thakin Mya, Bandoola U Sein, Thakin Nu, Thakin Tun Oake, Thakin ba Sein, U ba Thein, U Tun Aungm Thakin Than Tun, U Ba Win and U Hla Pe (Phra Bwa Hla Pe) to attend the meeting for the prime minister and Phra Bwa Hla Pe was appointed as a trade and engineering minister of the traditional government which was formed by General Inda, fascist Japanese military Commander, on August 4, 1942.

On March 17, 1943, Dr. Ba Maw, Thakin Mya, Dr. Thein Maung General Aung san, U Kyaw Nyein, Bo Yan Naing, U Tin Shwe and Phra Bwa Hla Pe were sent to Tokyo, the capital of Japan, to consult with the Japanese government about Burma's independence.

After the Japanese government announced Burma's independence in August 1, 1943, Phra Bwa Hla Pe was appointed as a forest and minister led by Dr. Ba Maw (a prime minister) in the cabinet. In June 1942, Phra Bwa Hla Pe also took part in the East Asia Youth Union, formed with thirteen members, led by Dr. Ba Maw, Dr.Thein Maung, and Thakin Nu. On April 22, 1945, Japanese troops from UMP ground, in the East of Coken Road and Goodait Road, retreated to Moulmein, Mudone and Than Pyu Za Yat. They took Dr. Ba Maw, U Hla Maung, Dr, Ba Han, U Yan Naing and Phra Bwa Hla Pe along with them as hostages.

The first Pin Long Confrence was held in Pin Long from 20 to 28 March, in 1946. A Shan handicraft variety show was also exhibited there. U Ba Aye (Pha Sa Pa La), Thakin Nu (pha Sa Pa Ka), Galon U Saw (Natio Partriotic Party), U Ba Nin (Mate Tila), Zaw Bwars (Shan State), Du War (Kachin State) and Phra Bwa Hla Pe attended the conference. Phra Bwa Hla Pe met U Pyu, Twart Nan Tha Hein and Bo Hein Maung, Pa-O leaders from Shan state at the conference; those Pa-O leaders from Shan State were members of the Shan State Indeendence Organization (Ya Pa La). After the conference, he met and had discussions with Zaw Bwa Khun Kyi, Pa-O national leader, in Hsi Saing(Thaton Lay).

On june 30, 1946, Phra Bwa Hla Pw, Phra U Kae, Phra Po Mein amd Phra Pyu formed the Pa-O National Organization in Nyaung Wun temple Thaton.

In March, 1946, the conference of Pa-O national was held in Tha Ya Rob Mone Yone, Thaton. The following BKNA and KYO, the new Karen organization was called the Karen National Union (KNU), On february 5, 1947, Karen National Union executive committee members were Saw San Po Tin (Chairman), Phra Bwa Hla Pe (Vice chairman), and with seventeen other members, Phra Bwa Hla Pe was elected as a Pa-O national Leader to carry out the duty of the KNU. According to the Karen conference constitution act (3), Saw Ba U Gyi, British parliament's representative, on behalf of the KNU. There was a demonstration led by Pa-O leaders name Phra Bwa Hla Pe, Phra U Koe, Phra U San Shwe and Phra Pyu in the Maw Kyaw quarter of Thaton, in 1948. More than ten thousand Pa-O people enthusiastic ally took part in this demonstration, Phra Bwa Hla Pe, U Kae and U Pyu delivered their speeches respectively. They made two demands on the government that are mentioned below

1. Our Nationals must be recognized and called "Pa-O" instead of being called "Thaung Thu"
2. Two Pa-O battalions should be set up for Pa-O people.

Phra Bwa Hla Pe was sent to Pin Long Conference as a Karen representative for the Pin Long Agreement on Feoss Tomly (a British Parliament representative), Samar Duwah Zin Wah Naung (Kachin), U Wan Kohall (Chin), Nyaung Hwe Zaw Bwa Sao Shwe Tike, and U Pe Khin (a conference representative, a retired ambassador as well as a first grade honorable title holder). U Pe Khin described him as a sensitive and educated man. More over, he had many experiences in politics. During the post-Workd War II era, he was appointed as a vice chairman in parliament. U Pe Khin remarked to him that he wasn't only to observe and attend the conference as an ordinary person, but also as a political game player among Shans, Kachins and Karenni in order to form a federal union state.

Administrating chief officer

Phra Bwa Hla Pe was given the authority to govern the whole Thaton district after its occupation by the Karen revolutionaries on Augest 31, 1948.

(1)Phra Bwa Hla Pe (Chief administrator)
(2)Saw Ohn Pe Nyunt (Joint chief administrator)
(3)Saw Shwe Dounce (Chief administer for ruler areas affairs)

PhraBwa Hla Pe, with his 16 members, took responsibility to govern Kaw Karate district, Line Bwet district, Pha Arn district and Thaton district. Saw Ba U Gyi (Karen leader), Phra Bwa Hla Pe, Col.Estain and Naw Seng (Kachin revolution leader) met and had discussions in Loikaw in 1949. They agreed and decided to occupy Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, in July 1949. The combined forces of Col.Estain (Karen Force), Naw seng (Kachin force) and Khun Pan Sein (Pa-O force) were given the responsibility of occupying Taunggyi according to the time schedule. After occupying Taunggyi for 5 days, Naw Seng (Kachin revolution force commander) retreated from Naung Cho to Kachin State. Then Taunggyi was governed by the system of military junta. The military administrative committee was:

1. Phra Bwa Hla Pe(Chief admistrator)
2. Phra Wida (member)
3. Col. Estin(member)
4. Major Irishman(member)
5. Cap.Maung Lay (member)

After forming the military administrative committees, they invited Jamadah Chan Zone (UMP), Jamadah Hla Pe Lay (UMP), PyaDoui (free fighter), Bo Hein Maung (Pha Moon), Khun Sein (Hsi Saing) and Hein Shan Ngwe (Kyau Tan) to join hands with the military administrative committees and to fight against the feudalism in Shan State.

Feudalistic Revolutionaries

Then Phra Bwa Hla Pe, Colo, Estain, Jamadah Chan Zone, Jamada Hla Pe Lay, Pya Doul (free fighter), Khun Sein (Hsi Saing), Bo Hein Maung (Pha Moon), and Heibn Shan Ngwe (Kyaut Tan) resreated to Naung Palm, where there was a Levi camp. It was close to Hti Han Chuia village, Because Taunggyi was under the union government force control, Karen, Kachin and Pa-O combined revolutionary forces occupied Taunggyi in July, 1949. But after three months, union government forces reoccupied. After raiding the Levi camp in Naung Palam, they continued to settle in His Saing (Thaeon Lay) as their strong hold. While camping there, Phra Bwa Hla Pe wrote a letter to Saw Ba U Gyi and captain Hedi to inform them that he was surrendering his post as a KNU's president, because he had to take full responsibility for the Pa-O people to fight against feudalism in Shan State. He also requested them to draw 15 lakhs of his own money from the banks of Moulmein and Rangoon. Saw Ba U Gyi accepted and agreed to his resignation. So he bought one hundred fifteen thousand kyats worth of weapons from Col. Estain and Bo Shwe Sine (KNU brigade 6 Commander) out of his own money to strengthen his three battalions for armed struggle. The Pa-O National Liberation Organization was formed on December 11, 1949. Its aims and objectives were to fight feudalism effectively. PNLO Center Executive Committee members were Phra Bwa Hla Pe Phra Ton Thi Yone, Phra Ton Kaung Kae, Phra Ton Kone Na, Phra TonNam Swe, Saya Thaw U Nay Mi (Naung Hen Ton), U Aung Tha (Naung Kar) , Bo Hein Maung (Pha Moon), Twart Nang Tha Hein(Sa Ngaw), Hein Shan Ngwe(Kyaut Tan), Jamada Chan Zone, and Jamadah Chan Zone took responsibility for ilitary affairs.

Taung Nyo Camp's declaration

Thakin Than Tun (Chairman of BCP) invited Phra Bwa Hla Pe to Taung Nyo Camp in November, 1966. Saya Taw U Nay Mi, Phra Hla Pe, Saya Khin Maung (adopted son of Phra Bwa Hla Pe) with PNLO troops went to Taung Nyo camp, Pyin Mana district, where Thakin Than Tun lived. After a three day long meeting at Taung Nyo camp, their agreement as mentioned below:

1-To eliminate colonialism and feudalism.
2-To have the opportunity of self-determination for every nationality.
3-To allow and help the BCP troops when crossing Pa-O lands.
4-To set up and confirm the alliance between PNLO and BCP.
5-To have the agreement of Pa-O land's boundary: i.e

-To the East it is up to Kun Hein district.
-To the West it is up to Paung Laung River.
-To the North it is up to DoteTawady Zaw Ji River.
-To the South it is up to Karenni State.

There was a conference held by KNU at the foot of MT Paret Zaung in Wah Kae Ma township, Myoung Mya district on June 9, 1953. All the Karen tribes including the Pa-O people's revolutionaries attended the conference. In this conference, Phra Bwa Hla Pe claimed the Pa-O areas (No. 5, i.e. Tha Ton areas) wanted to secede because they were founded by Pa-O people many years ago, but Karen nationals objected to this idea.

Fighting against the Kuomintang invaders

In the 1950s, Kumontang armies led by General limi Hon invated the Mine Tone, Mine zat, Mine Maw and Pan Yan areas. Even Pa-O areas such as Kan Thu Ton, Kan Thu Pay and Ta Rong were occupied. So the Pa-O Natioonal Libration Organization (PNLO) temporally made a cease-fire and joined hands with the union government force to wipe out the Kuomingtang armies from our own territory. Then in 1956, the United Nationalities Democratic Front, led by four organizations: the KNDO (Karen), KNPP (Karenni), PNLO (Pa-O), and MNDO (Mom New Party). Objecttives were:

1-To unite the nationalities of Burma.
2-To win self-determination for every nationality.
3-To eliminate Burmanization.
This agreement was abolished after the PNLO signed the agreement of peaceful co-existence with Pha Za Pa La's government on May 5, 1958

Obtaining Peace

Due to the situation of the world and our country, the PNLO signed the agreement of peaceful co-exstence with Pha Za Pa La's government on 5 May, 1958. Saya Nyunt and Bo Myein, Intha Revolutionary leaders, also signed this agreement for peaceful co-existence with the Pha Za Pa La's government at the same time. So Phra Bwa Hla Pe, General Chan Zone, Saya Nyunt and bo Myein delivered their speeches at the peace function ceremony in Taunggyi. More than one hundred thousand peace-loving people attended the ceremony. Phra Bwa Hla Pe and General Chan Zone welcomed and supported the good news that all the Zaw Bwas in Shan state were surrendering their power to Pha Za Pa La's government on the final day of the third anniversary of the whole state conference on March 22, 1959.

With the co-existence period

After signing a peaceful co-existence agreement in 1959, Phra Bwa Hla Pe set up a large farm in the East of Naung Moon called Naung Kham Plantation or garden. With the help of the United Nation, agricultural experts from Isreal and Japan were sent to that area to fie instructions on growing crops and fruit scientifically to the people living there. In 1960, PhraBwa Hla Pe, Phra Bwa U Pyu, and Phra U Kyaw Sein were elected as Members of Parliament in the Pa-O regions. On 10 November, 1960, Phra Bwa Hla Pe was also ekected as a law and constitution committee member led by U Aye Maung , senate chamber minister. Moreover, Phra Bwa Hla Pw, Phra Bwa U Pyu, and Phra U Kyaw Sein were invited to the seminar led by the Zaw Bwas, which was held in Taunggyi. All state members and representatives were invited to reconstitute the previous laws and constitution of Burma. When Mons, Shans, Karens, Arakanese (Rakhaines), Chins, Pa-O and private sector representatives met in Taunggyi, they decide to form the United Nationalities Organization on June 20, 1963. Phra Bwa Hla Pe became a chairman and Marn Daweit from the Karen Youth Organization was elected as a general secretary of this organization. Aims and Objectives were:

1. To unite all nationalities.
2. To win self-determination for all nationalities

Again on June 26, 1963, the National Committee was formed, Phra Bwa Hla Pe was a chairman and the general secretary of this national committee was Bo Mya Thway.
Aims and Objective were:

1. To fight against feddalism and colonism
2. To build peace in Burma.

There was a mass demonstration led by Phra Bwa Hla Pe, a national committee chairman, in Rangoon in 1963. It involved six districts and more than one hundred thousand people attended the demonstration. Saya Gyi Thakin Ko Taw Mine and Phra Bwa Hla Pe delivered their speeches respectively for peace among nationalities in Burma. He was detained in 1964 and released in 1971. After being released from prison, he came to the liberated area and formed the Shan State Nationalities Liberation Front (SNLF) in 1974. Then he was elected as SNLF's chairman and U Aung Kham Hti (now PNO chairman) became the general cecretary. He died in Pan Thun village, Taunggyi township, southern Shan State, on September (24), 1975, at the age of 66, Although he died, his spirit is still revealing to our new generations how to implement his noble projects. So we, Pa-O young people, respect and admire him for his courage in striving for peace, justice, equality, and self-determination for Pa-O land. We always remember and decide to carry out his four principles:

1-To have unity among nationaties.
2-To eliminate the dictatorship or de facto government.
3-To get equality and self-determinatio.
4-To get a genuine democratic federal union of Burma.

Therefore, in order to achieve his goal and objectives, we Pa-O youths both internal and external, should united and join hands with the allied democratic movements to fulfill his four unrealized principles and people in Pa-O regions, I encourage you to continue working with us in unity.

From/ Pa-O Youth Organization/ No.2, November, 2001

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