April 14, 2021
Opinions and Commentary

Chin Affairs Minister of Sagaing Region on ‘Chin’

08 February 2014: John Khaw Kim Thang, aka No Than Kap (pictured), who is the ex-president of the Chin National Front (CNF), and currently Chin Affairs Minister of Sagaing Region, speaks out on matters related to the term “Chin”.

It is not a matter of what the term “Chin” originally meant and literally means, but what it signifies. The significance of the term “Chin” is that in it all clans of “Chin” i.e., “Zomi”,”Laimi”,”Asho”,”Kuki”,”Lushai”, etc. are included and united.

Naturally, a person from Hakha, Falam and Matupi areas would prefer “Laimi” to “Zomi”, and a person from Tedim, Tonzang, and Thukhlai areas would prefer “Zomi” to “Laimi”. But he/she should go and look beyond his/her own sphere and accept the best and most widely used term by which the outside world call and know us, and that is Chin.

It is good if someone makes an in-depth study on the words “Laimi”, “Zomi”, “Asho”, “Kuki” etc., and comes out with the best one. But, he/she can never deny the fact that the term “Chin” is the most convenient, shorthand term that can be used with pride by all clans.

We will lose nothing by accepting and using the name “Chin” no matter what it connotes or who used it first. Rather, it can save us from our rabidly parochial stance which is the cause of disunity and misunderstanding among us.

The fact that “Chin” is not claimed as a clan name by any clan of “Chin” is the very reason why it should be accepted as the official name for all clans as a whole because it prevents each clan from sticking to its own term dogmatically.

Only narrow-minded rabid parochialists will always insist on his favorite term (for instance, “Zomi” or “Laimi”or “Asho”or “Kuki” or “Mizo” or any name his clan uses) and that person can rightly be called a black sheep or a chauvinist.

The term “Chin” might mean basket or companion in Burmese or it might have come from the Chin or Chin dynasty of China. This might have been a name given to us by the Burmese. Whatever it is, I still accept it as the only and best name by which all clans of Chin are known as one and unique people.

It is not wise for me to expect or persuade you to use “Laimi” just because it is what I use. Likewise, it is not wise for you to expect or persuade me to use “Zomi” just because that is what you use. Otherwise, we will or can engage in a futile and unprofitable debate that will take us nowhere.

Using the name “Chin” as a common and official name does not mean a complete rejection and abolition of other generic terms such as Lushei, Zo, Lai, Kuki etc. Of course, these terms should be used at local level as we do now but for unity’s sake, let us use and accept “Chin” as a common name at least till we find a better term. After all, we are of one ancestor.#

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