This article was published in The Guardian in 1954
July seven years ago, and rain had just set in Rangoon. At the iron gates of the Secretariat a few traffic constables and Yebaws were seen in khaki uniforms. Their duty was to control motor traffic into the Secretariat. They did not check the . identity of entrants. Some Cabinet Ministers and many Members of the Constituent Assembly were still wearing their old uniforms; I myself used to do the same at times. It was only sometime after the resistance movement was over and the War fever had not left many of us in the Constituent Assembly; besides, as late as January 1947 while Bogyoke Aung San visited London the Yebaws were kept on the alert with their concealed arms to fight if necessary for independence.
The Secretariat could be entered by anyone who had the whim and fancy. Arms were carried by Yebaws and other people; no one could tell who was a bonafide soldier, who was not. On the main roads of Rangoon, Yebaws of various political or other organisations collected donations. Things were in a fluid state. Although the Constituent Assembly was already in session it was an open secret that many arms were still in unauthorized hands. Traffic in arms was ill concealed. A case in point was when a quantity of 200 Brens were secretly obtained by culprits from an unauthorized source. The leader of the conspiracy was known; the cabinet meeting of the 19th. July was to have decided what action should be taken against him.
At half past ten on the morning of the 19th July 1947, a jeep carrying uniformed men pulled up at the Sparks Street entrance of the Secretariat. The Police constables waved the vehicle in as a matter of course. The inmates of the jeep alighted at the entrance of the Shan State Ministry and they went up the first floor from the narrow stair-case connecting the Finance Ministry, with the Shan State Ministry, and headed for the Chamber where the Executive Council had just begun the day’s deliberations. The jeep after unloading its evil cargo, turned to wait for the would be assassins at the archway of the Secretariat, with the engine running.
Bogyoke Aung San used to arrive early for cabinet meetings end I would take the opportunity of seeing him before the meeting started. That morning I reported some important matters regarding the future of the Chin Hills and he requested me to see him at a later cabinet meeting. I would have remained on in the Executive Council Chamber but just before I went to see him some important visitors from Paletwa and Naga Hills arrived to see me on some very urgent matters. For that reason I asked to be excused from attending the Executive Council Meeting that morning. Bogyoke agreed to my seeing the visitors, as there was no item concerning the Chins on the agenda for that day. I had many such meetings with Bogyoke Aung San since the days of the Frontier Areas Enquiry Commission. Bogyoke advised me to settled as many cases as could be settled between him and me.
On my way to the office I exchanged greetings with Bogyoke’s personal assistant Bo Tun Hla and came down from the very stair-case which was to be used by the assassins a few minutes later.
I went back to my room on the ground floor directly beneath the Council Chamber. Not long after I had opened conversations’ with the representatives from Paletwa and the Naga Hills, an ugly unearthly noise shook the whole building. • I heard very loud bursts of automatic weapons which were sounds I was well familiar with all the previous four years. I went out of my room and met a peon who came running down the stairs crying; when I asked what had happened I learned to my horror that the unbelievable had happened and that most of my outstanding colleagues had been cruelly cut down by the bullets of assassins. I went up to the Council ^Chamber and met Pyawbwe U Mya and U Ba Gyan who had 1 not ‘ yet’ recovered from the shock’. Mongpawn Sawbwagyi Was grazed by a bullet but could stumble down to the ambulance truck on his feet:
The country was thus, in one morning, by one cruel blow, deprived of its greatest founders ,and I of personal – friends. Bogyoke’s death had, been a serious blow to Burma. Excitement bubbled up on the surface of grief and anger against the small band of- fanatics who had committed the heinous crime.
But a new leader in Bogyoke’s trusted comrade Thakin Nu stepped in to hold the heavy reins of government and we, the remaining members of Executive Council, carried on with and a few of us had the. privilege of being present at the signing of the historic Nu-Attlee treaty at No. 10, Downing Street on the 17th October 1947.
The day after the assassinations we all went to the general hospital mortuary to take the remains of the leaders to the Jubilee Hall. On arrival there the Mahadevi of Yawnghwe informed me that Mongpawn Sawbwagyi had also passed away on the operation table. Thus, together with the Burmese the blood of the Frontier peoples, the Muslim, the Karen and the Anglo- Burman was joined again in the national struggle for independence.
The July murders proved that the races of Burma were united not only in name but also in fact, and the world which was intently watching her saw that Burma could take adversity calmly not unlike a stately ship which braves the storms and sails the oceans.
Published in The Guardian in 1954
Compiled from “Profile of a Burma Frontier Man”, page 119