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Burma (Situation)

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 30 July 1947

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(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he has any further statement to make on the situation in Burma.

I am glad to be able to inform the House that, according to the latest reports I have received, the situation throughout Burma remains quiet and under control. The rapid formation of a new provisional government under Thakin Nu has had a calming effect, and has been generally welcome. There is no doubt that the vast majority of the country is solid behind the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet. There was at first a tendency in certain quarters to spread rumours connecting His Majesty's Government and the Governor with the recent outrages. The Government of Burma have announced that they wish it to be known that these rumours are utterly unfounded, that there is close understanding between His Majesty's Government, the Governor and the Government of Burma, and that they are actively cooperating with a view to bringing the culprits to book with the least possible delay.

The identity of the assassins and the origin and ramifications of the outrage are still under investigation. A number of arrests have been made, large quantities of arms and ammunition have been seized in various places, and effective security measures have been taken. The Government of Burma, who are pursuing their inquiries with the utmost energy, are announcing today that they have reason to believe that the persons who committed this dastardly crime are among those arrested, and that the assassinations were part of a plot to overthrow the Government.

I regret to say that two important consignments of arms and ammunition were obtained from the Base Ordnance Depot at the end of June and from the Base Ammunition Depot on 12th July by individuals impersonating the civil police and carrying forged documents. Investigations by the police, with the co-operation of the military authorities, are being vigorously pursued in relation to these thefts. A Military Court of Inquiry was immediately instituted, and the Burma Command have emphasised that the strongest possible action will be taken against any military personnel found to be in any way guilty of negligence. Meanwhile, the officer in charge of the depots concerned has been relieved of his duties. I am glad to be able to say that the latest reports indicate that the bulk of the material stolen has now been recovered.

The House will wish to join with me in sending a message of encouragement to Thakin Nu and to his Cabinet. They have shouldered a heavy task with courage and determination and they will have the good wishes and the sympathy of us all.

The right hon. Gentleman, in his statement just now, referred I think to a declaration by the Government of Burma that His Majesty's Government are in no way connected with the recent events in Burma. In view of some allegations that have been made, may I ask him if he will be good enough to make it plain that His Majesty's Opposition, equally, have no connection with this outrage? I ask him to do that, par- ticularly, as the right hon. Gentleman knows that my right hon. Friends and myself saw certain of these Burmese leaders at different times, and always at the request which the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to make, and with his full knowledge.

Yes, Sir. I know that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends saw members of the Burma Government, and nobody would believe that the Opposition did not take the same view as the Government and as the Government of Burma take in regard to these matters.