“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the news

Recently, the UN Security Council received a proposal from certain world leaders regarding peace and the situation in Myanmar. After this, one of the government owned newspapers published an open letter. Let me copy the first two paragraphs:

“Gentlemen (Mr. Vaclav Havel and Bishop Desmond Tutu), I would like to ask you ‘Do you know that according to Political Science, deception will be rampant all over the world without Abhidhamma, which means reflections of man’s mind on material world?

To elaborate my statement, man is to view the things in the right perspective, and only then will his views be right. If one’s views are contradistinction to what things really are, it will not be in conformity with Abhidhamma, and supposing, at that time one expresses one’s views, they will be lies because the views are far away from the truth.”

Even without the English errors and other fluff and rambling, the article is such a blatant example of propaganda that it’s upsetting that it is the only thing that Myanmar people read. The whole page article went on to restate history in its terms, and it takes an extreme position of defensiveness as if they know they are wrong, but still have to validate everything they do.

There are so many tragic things about Myanmar, its politics, its people, its education, its government. I’m reading an excellent book right now called Finding George Orwell in Burma, which is basically a travelogue and history of the country using where George Orwell lived as a premise. It constantly brings thoughtful examples and anecdotes to my mind and I want to rhapsodize about each and every one. A whole generation’s general education has been lost here, and the majority of the people don’t agree with the way their own country is run, but no one (inside or out) seems to be able (or willing) to do anything about it.

On a side note, the government has just decided to move their capital out of Yangon! It’ll be somewhere up in a valley between here and Mandalay; quite strategic too, as it was the Japanese command center. A good article to read about this is from the Independent: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article325441.ece