How Chin capital was moved ~ Dr. Vumson Suantak
(This is a comment I wrote on the Chin State Capital in response to Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong’s book. He writes) “Since the arrival of the British, Haka became the capital of Eastern Chinram.” To my recollection Haka had never been the capital of Eastern Chinram until 1964. Let me give an account of the Eastern Chinram capital.
When the British annexed the Chin Hills, they first established their camp at Thangmual, calling it Fort White after General White, who was the commander of the army that subdued the Sizang and surrounding areas. Fort White was in the Sizang area. In 1892, the Sizang chiefs and other chiefs of the general Tedim area planned the assassination of Carey, who was the political officer. The players were Thuam Thawng of Kaptel, his son Pau Dal, Khan Dal, chief of Heilei, and the Sizang chiefs. They invited Mr. Carey saying that they were to give him some presents. However, on the appointed day Mr. Carey was ordered by his superiors to go somewhere else and the Myo-Ok who was an Arakanese was to come to receive the presence.. The plotters decided that as the Myo-ok , being an agent of the British should be welcome and assassinated. The plotters then informed and received their approval from the Lusei, Haka, Tlasun, and Zahau chiefs.
Due to the assassination, the British moved their headquarters then to Falam, and Falam became the capital of the Chin Hills District. At that time the Chin Hills District covered the Tedim, Falam and Hakha districts. The Chin Hills Battalion was stationed in Falam. Its soldiers were a mix of Indian sepoys and local recruits. The higher-ranking officers were British until local recruits were promoted as officers. The deputy commissioner was the highest authority at Falam. They created a post and telegraph offices, and a police force that was stationed in Falam. Thus Falam became the Chin Hills District Capital since 1892.
At independence, Matupi, Mindat (Kanpetlet) formerly of Pakokku district and Paletwa district, formerly of Arakan, were added to the Chin Hills District. Together this region was called the Chin Special Division, with the capital in Falam. The Minister of the Chin Affairs Pu Vumtu Maung, a Cho from Mindat, however did not sit in Falam, but sat in Rangoon together with the cabinet members of the Union Government. The Commissioner of the Chin Special Division did sit in Falam and most of the administration was under his jurisdiction. Thereafter, Pu Sing Htang and Pu Za Hre Lian were Ministers for the Chin Affairs under the AFPFL governments. They sat in Rangoon.
In 1958 the ruling AFPFL party split into two factions and the Stable AFPFL had the majority. Thus Pu Ral Hmung, a native of Haka district, became the Chin affairs minister. He ordered the transfer of the Chin Capital to Haka immediately after becoming the minister. But before it was implemented, General Ne Win, who was the Prime Minister of the Caretaker Government at that time, gave Ral Hmung an ultimatum, to resign or be fired. Ral Hmung resigned and the transfer was not implemented.
When General Ne Win took over power the second time in 1962, he handpicked the members of the Chin Council and appointed Major Son Kho Lian as the Chairman. Son Kho Lian set up his administration at Kalemyo, in order to facilitate communication with Rangoon, the Union Capital, and easier access to the fertile Kale-Kabaw- Myttha –Gangaw Valley. The Burman had once protested the presence of the Chin administration in Kalemyo. This time some Burman from the Stable AFPFL complained to Ne Win that the Chin administration had no place in Kalemyo because Kalemyo had been a Shan – Burman town and did not belong to the Chins. At a meeting between Ne Win, Son Kho Lian and several Council members, Northern Burma Army Commander Colonel Lun Tin, his deputy Colonel Van Kulh, Pu Tuang Hmung, the Chin Council Secretary, and his deputy Pu Ngun To, Ne Win told Son Kho Lian that he wanted him to transfer his administration somewhere else. Ne Win said that it was an annoyance and he did not care where the administration would be moved. Son Kho Lian and his council members contemplated where it would best be moved, and some suggested to Webula just north of Kalemyo or the other to Gangaw area at Chin Special Division and Burma border.
After the meeting Lun Tin told Son Kho Lian that he should take it easy and the “old man” would change his mind. Some time after returning to his headquarters in Mandalay, Lun Tin had to go away for a few days. In the mean time, Colonel Van Kulh had been coordinating with Ngun To when to move the capital to Haka. Both Van Kulh and Ngun To were native to the Haka district. When the absence of Tuang Hmung and Lun Tin from their offices coincided, Van Kulh sent a telegram to the Secretary of the Chin Council to move the administration to Haka. On receiving the telegram, Ngun To implemented the transfer of the Chin administration to Haka by day and night although it was during the rainy season and travel most difficult in the Chin Hills. When Lun Tin learned about the transfer order, he sent another telegram to Kalemyo, but Ngun To hid it until the transfer was completed. Colonel Lun Tin launched an investigation on what had been done on the move of the Chin administration from Kalemyo
to Haka. At the same time there was a scandal in the Agricultural Department of the Ne Win government in which Lun Tin had a hand. With Colonel Lun Tin’s departure from the military the case was closed. With this maneuver, Haka got the capital and the Chin lost their access to the fertile land of their forefathers, which they shared with the Shan. Most importantly, the transfer to Haka did not happen until that time, and not “Since the arrival of the British” as the author claims.
(Pu Lian Uk suggested that Van Kulh might face some disciplinary action if he was involved in such a matter. I believe that had Lun Tin was not removed from his post Col. Van Kulh might face some disciplinary action but luckily that did not happened. As Lun Tin was fired and …..)