12 February 1947
Union Day today marks the signing of the 12 February 1947 "Panglong Agreement". This followed several days of intense negotiations been members of the Burma Executive Council (led by General Aung San) supported by constitutional and financial expert U Tin Tut; all the Shan sawbwas and other representatives of the "Frontier Areas" (Chin Hills, Kachin Hills, and the Federated Shan States plus Kokang and the Wa Hills); and representatives of the Governor Sir Hubert Rance and the UK Government. The agreement included the appointment of a new member of the Governor's Executive Council representing the Frontier Areas, transitional financial arrangments, steps towards the establishment of a "Kachin State", and most significantly the acceptance of the principle of Frontier Areas autonomy. What's critical to remember is that this was happening in the shadow of much larger events all around. China was at civil war and the fight between Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists would spill over into the Frontier Areas within two years with devastating consequences. The French and the Viet Minh were battling next door in Indochina. Most importantly, India was moving towards a bloody Partition and the creation of Pakistan. Burma holding together was far from a certainty. This photograph shows General Aung San shaking hands with Arthur Bottomley (then a Labour politician and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs). General Aung San underscored to Bottomley the impact India's looming Parition was having on Burma and the Panglong talks. Behind Bottomley is Sir Eric Mastig, a constitutional expert, who worked closely behind the scenes with ICS U Tin Tut, also an experts on constitutional and financial affairs (they had played rugby against each other at school in England).