22 NOVEMBER 1930, Page 14

The Future of Burma

Ithe task of reorganizing the basis of Government of India, to which the Round Table Conference is now applying itself, there is a danger that the claims of a loyal section of His Majesty's Dominions may be over- looked—Burma.

Burma is a country slightly larger than France, with a population of 18,000,000, the great majority of whom belong to the Buddhist faith. Her people are among the most intelligent in Asia, and the standard of literacy is high. She is represented on the Round Table Conference by four delegates, and in accordance with the recom- mendations of the Simon Report she hopes that the

" artificial " ties which at present connect her with India will be severed. There seems every reason to suppose that the Round Table Conference will concur in this recommendation.

There is no desire in India to keep Burma bound to her against the wishes of the Burmese people ; but the leaders of opinion in Burma fear, owing to the com- plexity of the problems which the Round Table Con- ference are about to discuss, the claims of Burma may be overlooked. They expect that her desire to be sepa- rated from India will be granted, but they fear that unless a clear statement as to Burma's future be made simultaneously, her last state may be worse than her first.

We wrote last week : " . . . what is being decided at the Round Table Conference is whether the British Commonwealth is great enough to become a World Com- monwealth embracing nations of all colours ' and creeds, or whether it is just going to become a Common- wealth of white ' nations." The case of Burma affords us an opportunity of proving by our acts that we desire to grant to the Burmese people equality of status with the other nations in the British Commonwealth, and that the boon of self-government is not to be confined to the white races. Her people feel that they have as much right to control their own affairs as any other. They have no desire, once equality of status is granted, to with- draw from the British Commonwealth. They recognize, however, that in view of the preoccupations of the Conference in other directions, the British Government could hardly be expected forthwith to draw up a con-

stitution suitable to Burma's needs. What they ask is that simultaneously with the publication of the findings of the Conference an announcement should be made stating the Government's intention to recognise Burma's claim to Dominion status.

The Burmese leaders suggest that the task of devising a Constitution for the self-governing Burma within the British Commonwealth should forthwith be entrusted to a conference representing all three parties in Great Britain, and that to it should be summoned representatives of all sections of the Burmese people. If such a declaration could be made, we are sure that it would go a long way towards reassuring the people of Burma. Except the achievement of a satisfactory outcome to the present de- liberations at St. James's Palace, there is no more useful piece of work which could be done in Asia at the present time than that of laying the foundations for a prosperous, contented, and self-governing Burma within the British Commonwealth.