Thursday, April 30, 2009

Selling underage daughters into marriage in Saudi Arabia --

Burma Since 1962 by Peter John Perry --

A book I might have written, though perhaps not in quite the same way.

I think the cliche "mismanagement" needs to be much better defined.

This is an expensive book at $99 and I am a starving writer again.

It was hard to read on line. Heavy toll on one's eyes.

It's a pity it has not been more widely distributed, read and reviewed.

Blog mini-"book review" Kyi May Kaung

Howard Zinn's The People Speak will air on the History Channel --

A book to keep always, Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, 1492-present.

Full of the real words of the real people of America.

Blog note copyright Kyi May Kaung

New book on Burmese money and banking by Sean Turnell.,M1

U.S. State Department clarifies it will not lift Burmese sanctions --

NLD sets conditions for 2010 election participation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Genocide Intervention Network's $25,000 matching grant for early warning system, to warn of army attacks, for villages in eastern Burma

Further info please contact GIN

Daughter of a Burmese political prisoner speaks out -- from The Irrawaddy.

Asia Society panel on Burma from 08 -- but still highly relevant -- listen after reading previous posts --

Panelists -- Dr. Thaung Htun, UN Office of NCGUB --
Scott Marciel on "why should the USA care about Burma."
Dr. Sean Turnell on Burmese economy, earnings from natural gas, lack of proper institutions.

Burma: Comment I left today on Irrawaddy site about "First NLD Election in a Decade" by Min Lwin.

Independence Monument, Washington DC, partially hidden by cherry blossoms,photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

There already is a well articulated vision for Democratic Transition, being put together with the help of international scholars, NCGUB and NLD. This encompasses constitutional review, economic reform, money and banking, civil-Military relations, electoral law and system, stopping human rights abuses, freeing all political prisoners, etc.

See Ko Wild, Interview of U Bo Hla Tint of NCGUB in Mizzima.

I agree 2010 "election" is a clever trap set by SPDC.

Democracy side will be damned if it does(participate in 2010 election) and damned if it doesn't.

The international community should not treat 2010 as if it were real. It's a sham election, not real.

So far things have failed not because the Democracy Movement "has no vision" but because the military government has the guns and the oppressive mechanism.

Donors want to see dialog so groups talk dialog, but in this case it won't work unless junta really talks too. So far it has never done so.

Often it does not even see Mr. Gambari nor Mr Ban Ki-moon.

I wish people would stop blaming the victims. including NLD.

Have you no better idea or nothing better to do?

Comment text copyright Kyi May Kaung

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Andrew Davies -- Director of Little Dorrit - on PBS -"Dickens was concerned about the whole of society."

Malaysian government promises to look into Burmese human trafficking --

Jasper Johns -- (the artist always gets the last laugh)

The White Chair by Kyi May Kaung

Sunset -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

I had never known Pado Mahn Sha well, and had seen him only once or twice at international meetings about Burma. He was in the KNU or Karen National Union, a group that has been in armed rebellion against the central Burmese government since 1947. They are known as the longest running armed insurrection in the world, and their leader/founder General Saw Bo Mya died recently of complications from diabetes. He was big and obese, though apparently very strong. An art curator I spoke to thought that Bo Mya had died due to poison that the Burmese military junta had put in his shoes, when he went for ceasefire talks to Rangoon in 2004. But it wasn’t anything that exotic. It was just because Bo Mya had diabetes, and diabetics often lose their feet or toes. I wondered if Bo Mya had been careful about pedicures and manicures as I had read so long ago in an informational packet about diabetes. But maybe he had not been. After all he lived in a war zone, though he was hospitalized in Bangkok. The 2004 ceasefire talks failed because the Burmese junta violated the agreements within a few months, causing the KNU to take up arms again in self defense.
The Karen are an ethnic group called Kayin by the Burmese. The British during the colonial period from 1886 to the beginning of World War II and the Japanese Occupation, called them “the Karen.” The British declined to have the majority group, the Burmans, in their army, but had special troops composed of some of the supposed other “warlike races” such as the Karen, the Chin and the Kachin. It was the British policy of divide and rule.

Among the famous Karen leaders that my family knew was Saw Kya Doe, a former neighbor on Inya Road, who my mother always said, had been trained at Sandhurst, the famous military academy in England. Eventually, everyone became a dissident or an armed rebel, but Saw Kya Doe himself, after years in the jungle on the Thai-Burma border with former Prime Minister U Nu’s group, eventually came in from the cold in the late eighties and helped the military government proctor its 1990 elections, that it never honored.
Pado Mahn Sha was a generation younger than Saw Kya Doe. He was a straight-faced man whose demeanor and soft-spoken, modest nature, revealed him to be a man of few words but great intelligence and sincerity. I always thought of him as a man of peace.
I was shocked in early February of 2008, to see email notices start to come into my inbox from dissident Burmese groups, talking of him in the past tense. Those weeks were full of reported deaths, some of which were revealed in a few days as being perhaps part of the junta’s disinformation campaigns. Veteran journalist U Thaung was reported dead. So were famed writer Ludu Daw Ah Mar and pop singer May Sweet, who was reported by “AP?” to have died in a car accident in London. It turned out all three were pieces of junta disinformation, maybe to demoralize Burmese dissidents overseas. May Sweet is alive and well, and continuing with her overseas concert tours, but Ludu Daw Ah Mar and U Thaung succumbed to old age in a couple of weeks. I suppose the junta was just trying to “pop them off sooner” out of spite and hatred. They had both been outspoken in their courageous criticism of the junta; U Thaung from his home in Florida, Ludu Da Ah Mar, amazingly, from her home in Mandalay, Burma. She once famously threw away a pen given to her by Lt. General Khin Nyunt, at that time the most powerful man in Burma. But at her memorial service at the Burma Studies Center in DeKalb, IL in October 2008, a scholar who had known her said he had asked her about it and she had said, “Ma loke yè par bu kwè” (I would not have dared). Still, it makes a good story.
The assassination of KNU leader Pado Mahn Sha at his home in Mae Sod, on the Thai-Burma border, was only too real. Why, here on the Internet was a photograph of Mahn Sha lying in state, with a striped red Karen blanket covering him from the chest down, looking as simple in death as he had been in life! He looked calm, as if he were sleeping. Here was the last known photograph of him, a few days before he was gunned down by two men, who are reported to have greeted him in the Karen language. “Uncle, how are you?” So they would have said, “Hpar htee, how are you?” And then shot him point blank.
He died on the spot.
And here is a photograph taken from inside the front door of his home, through large teak doors that stand open, onto a patch of impossibly bright green grass in Mae Sod. Places in that latitude in Burma such as Myawaddy (on the opposite bank of the Moei River from Mae Sod) and Moulmein have a high annual rainfall. On my very first visit to Moulmein from Rangoon in the fifties, I noticed from the window of the World War II Dakota that we flew in, how green the grass was – greener than I had ever seen before.
And here is a photograph of the narrow upstairs veranda where Mahn Sha fell, a large pool of red blood still there beside the white plastic chair on which he had been sitting.
Though “teak doors” may signal wealth to western readers, teak is quite common and used en bloc in the Border Areas and in Thailand. True, it is used in a most haphazard and wasteful way. In all the bed and breakfast places and three star hotels I stayed in, in Bangkok and Chiangmai between 2002 and 2008, I saw teak, teak, teak used in veneer form and in solid form everywhere. It virtually broke my heart. I had been married into a family which had worked in forest conservation, the teak trade and in the teak milling and the export business since the pre-World War II days, and even against my will, it was not difficult for me to recognize expensive teak grain patterns such as “cathedrals” and stripes everywhere. The patterns depend on how the teak log is sliced or peeled off in wafer thin veneers, like unwrapping a spring roll of many layers.
The white plastic chair was like hundreds of cheap lawn furniture chairs I have seen in S.E. Asia and in America. I’ve seen them with their matching stools in street side food stalls in Bangkok and Chiangmai, in Angkor and Siem Reap in Cambodia and quite a few houses in the United States. They are stackable and obviously made from the same mold. I usually see them in the red version in Asia and in the white version in America.
Pado Mahn Sha was by no means rich. After his death, his son and daughter wrote a touching eulogy, in which his daughter wrote that their father “had not been able to give them wealth, but had given them an education.” I thought the eulogy was written in the most beautiful English, something a bit rare among Burmese dissidents. After Mahn Sha died, the poetry he had written, I think in Burmese, started to appear. A radio broadcaster who read them praised them highly as “So sensitive. Unbelievable!” Of course, there is no reason to suppose that someone is illiterate or insensitive, just because they have decided that there is no other recourse left but armed struggle. A case in point is the Black radical depicted in E. L. Doctorow’s novel Ragtime.
I think, in his later years, Mahn Sha was focused mainly on forging links with the other ethnic groups of Burma and with the Burman dissident groups. The last photograph showed him returning from yet another political meeting, an expression of exhaustion and even exasperation on his face, a strand of grey hair falling on his cheek, dressed in a simple but beautiful hand-woven cotton blanket-robe of beige stripes on a cream colored background.
I heard of Mahn Sha’s death a few days before I set out for a trip to Chiangmai, and it alarmed my children greatly.
Chiangmai is the second biggest city in Thailand and is full of Burmese dissidents, migrant workers, foreign expatriates and long-time residents and big Thai universities and hospitals and the non-profits that do work along the Burma-Thai border.
Historically, Chiangmai was called Zinmè by the Burmese. It was a city-state that was now part of Burma, now part of Siam. Now it is in Thailand, but feels, for us Burmese who can never go home, like Little Burma. Everything from the bright brick red soil, the orchids, including the famous blue vanda, to the Shan-Thai style food, reminds one of the Shan States in Burma, with which I and my family have had many connections over two generations.
I promised my children I would not go to the Border, and in fact I have never been. The Thai authorities control access to the refugee camps closely, and Mae Sod is said to be full of security cameras. Some non-profits don’t want their employees or course attendees to visit there, on the grounds that they will be seen as “doing politics” and this will violate the “won’t do any politics” memoranda of understanding that they have signed with the Thai government or organizations.
In Burma in the seventies before I left on a Fulbright scholarship, one had to send in written reports to the education ministry, every time one went to a foreign embassy, for any reason. Usually, it was to see a movie. I never went to the U.S. Embassy except on the one occasion I went there to take an English test in connection with the scholarship. I didn’t understand the films that were shown at the Australian Embassy, partly because the pavilion had such poor acoustics, with all the sound pouring out of the four open sides. In the end I decided not going was the easiest thing to do, as permissions and then writing and submitting “He said, she said, I said” reports were so grueling and would just result in an unwelcome limelight focused on me.
My never going to Mae Sod was the result of a similar logic.
However, that did not mean I could not talk to people who did go.
In Chiangmai in February, I met again a woman who had worked for Amnesty International. She had been in Mae Sod when the assassination took place and was there until the day of the funeral service. Ellen (not her real name) told me that at first the entire Karen and Mae Sod dissident community was in shock.
“But it did nothing except increase the traffic fines that the Mae Sod police levy on the Burmese dissidents.”
Apparently, the Thai police had the habit of stopping cars and vans “for traffic violations” whenever they needed extra pocket money, and there was even a going rate for the “fine.” Now the police could cite “security reasons” for stopping cars more often and for being “more strict” so that the going bribe rate went up, and then did not come down again.
“I’m sure the killers are in Burma by now,” Ellen told me.
Another Burma-born analyst I talked to (I will call him Min Saw) told me that he went to the funeral service, the very day Ellen came back to Chiangmai. I asked him to tell me about the funeral.
“Oh, it was so sad. Lots of crying. The immediate family was not there, due to fear. I did not get to see Say Say (Mahn Sha’s son).”
Pado Mahn Sha was a Buddhist. The KNU is predominantly Baptist, hewing to the almost fundamentalist doctrines of one of the first Christian missionaries to come to Burma, in the 18th century, Adoniram Judson. He was an American and prepared and published the first Burmese-English dictionary. His own name he transliterated as Yuda Than – so we now have Y instead of J in the Burmese language transliterations. John is Johan, Jonathan is Yaw Da Than – as in Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Yaw Da Than Zin Yaw – in Burmese).
I think it’s a sign of Pado Mahn Sha’s greatness, even in death, as photographs of the funeral in the Bangkok newspapers showed a simple wooden cross being carried in front of the coffin. Min Saw told me that because Mahn Sha had been the primary bridge builder between the minority ethnic groups and the Burma groups,
“For the SPDC (the Burmese junta) killing Mahn Sha was a big coup. He was the brains of the KNU.”
SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) is the Orwellian name of the present junta. Min Saw said sadly that Mahn Sha probably lived too long in one place, was too open and accepting in his literal open door policy, and had no armed guards in Mae Sod.
“That just made it easier for the assassins.” Min Saw told me.
The two killers came to the house in a black car with a bunch of flowers. They asked for Mahn Sha and went upstairs and killed him. The only witness was a neighbor woman who was still hysterical when the foreign reporters arrived.

Min Saw said that the KNU leaders had now moved back to the Liberated Areas – the no man’s lands along the Burma-Thai border, because there they could have a regular military camp and armed guards. The KNU had not had a border outpost since the fall of their headquarters, Manerplaw, in January 1995. I see it as a hardening of tensions.
About two weeks after Mahn Sha’s funeral, a Bangkok Newspaper published an editorial that the authorities should look into Mahn Sha’s death in more detail. The black van was found beside the river at the border, but the killers, of course, had fled.
This editorial stated that a few weeks before Mahn Sha’s death, he had been under extreme pressure from Thai business interests to allow logging and a dam in the Karen State regions controlled by the KNU. He had been adamantly saying “No.”
But the dam was going ahead anyway. The KNU and many commentators in February 2008 thought that the DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Association), a splinter group from the KNU, supported by the SPDC and supposedly “Buddhist”, was behind the killing. Now, the well-known Burmese dissident magazine Irrawaddy, based in Chiangmai, says that an infamous DKBA man named Sun Byoke (“Boiled Rice”) drove the car and was seen near Mahn Sha’s home at the time of the assassination. The Irrawaddy correspondent also wrote that the SPDC has already rewarded Boiled Rice.
At the same time we are seeing video on You Tube from September 2007 of Mahn Sha’s daughter, Zoya Phan, giving an eloquent and moving speech to the Conservative Party in the UK, at a Burma Campaign UK event. She is dressed in a hand-woven white robe, that unmarried Karen women wear, and looks very like her father. She does not speak for the Karen alone but for everyone. Towards the end of her short presentation, she leaves the podium briefly and picks up a big clanking iron chain and stocks, that was smuggled out of Burma. She describes the torture in Burma’s prisons in excruciating detail.
Mahn Sha’s simple chair is standing empty, but there are many people, including his daughter Zoya Phan, who can fill that chair and continue to speak for us.
April 25, 2008. Updated 4-26-09 Text copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Zoya Phan’s autobiography, Little Daughter, has just been published by Simon and Schuster.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mark Weisbrot: IMF should not get money without reform --

Famous Burmese comedian, Zarganar, jailed for helping cyclone victims, and others in failing health in remote junta prisons.

A well-known and well-regarded economist, focussed on Burma, Dr. Sean Turnell, urges U.S. to tighten sanctions.

Turning the screw -- short and long screws -- Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Metro (subway) ticket from Obama's Inauguration. Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

The Obama administration has said it is reviewing Burma policy.


It's true, as I have been saying all along these past 20+ years, it is the junta and its command economy that is impoverishing the country.

Kyi May Kaung.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am a board member of Burma Economic Watch and share Dr. Turnell's views.

Jacquelyn Mitchard's bio

Writers are born into the most unlikely families.

Jayanti Tamm -- Leaving the Cult -- Red Room

Kyi May Kaung's upcoming collage show -- Cut and Paste -- Dec. 09 - Suriya Gallery, Chiangmai, Thailand.

Collage in process -- copyright Kyi May Kaung

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

God's Grandeur by Gerard Manly Hopkins -- one of my father's favorite poems.

Pink camellia petals on brown mulch -- Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Poet Lamont Steptoe -- "I curse you"

Jim Cohn -- founder of on line Museum of American Poetics.

So amazing.

For children of all ages -- Tammy Yee's origami

My Cock vs. Yours: Cock Fighting in Burma, Bali and Thailand- Travel article - copyright Kyi May Kaung -- published on my Red Room Blog site.

Thai folk ceramics with hand painted cocks -- Photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Dorothy Allison discusses "Bastard out of Carolina."

My new Red Room Blog.

Red Room Society is a writers' group based in San Francisco.

Beautiful video -- Chief Seattle's reply to U.S. government, which wanted to buy Indian land.

This is just to say -- by William Carlos Williams -- from

Not just a good president, but may be a great one -- President Obama's speech at CIA

Friday, April 17, 2009

Kyee Myint Saw's solo show at Suvarnubhumi Gallery --

Painting and poster copyright Kyee Myintt Saw and Suvarnabhumi Gallery, Chiangmai, Thailand.

This painting is reminiscent to Van Gogh's painting of a prostitute that he befriended.


Bringing Aung San Suu Kyi into a Cambodian classroom --

She may be reviled and put down inside her native country by the inhuman junta, but elsewhere, she is revered and always will be.

Posted by Kyi May Kaung.

Story of Iqbal -- one of Daw Suu's bodyguards

Burma Genocide Watch event at Cornell University.

Josh Groban sings "You raise me up"

U Tube music keeps being taken off the Net due to copyright issues.

However, I am posting here not for commercial use but to give strength to people from developing nations such as Burma -- the Internet is often blocked or down there.

Blog note copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Towards the Splendid City -- 1971 Nobel Lecture by Chilean poet -Pablo Neruda --

I too "did not learn" to write poetry in MFA courses, and Chile is very like Burma, without the glaciers, but isolated within a pocket of the sea and high (Himalayas) and not so high (the Burmese mountain ranges or yoma -- "spines")mountain ranges.

I left on what turned out to be a one way passport.

But many walked out as Neruda did.

One day I will post my Neruda-inspired poem which was chosen by Ram Deveneni and Marilyn Hacker for a Rattapallax CD.

Blog text copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Poet Mahmoud Darwish's memorial from 2008 --

Iran -- book review -- Life under Ahmadinejad --by Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times.

Dead Aid -- Why Madonna etc cannot save Africa --

Sanctions and USA -- Obama opens door to Cuba, but only a crack --

See New York Times -- links not working.

Michael Jackson's stuff on auction --

A bit sad. "The eternal boy."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ann Sexton -- All My Pretty Ones -- poem animation

I think "poem animation" means a still photo has been "animated" with mouth and eye movements.

This one is quite skillful and may get better with new improvements in technology.

Still, I think I prefer the voice alone. Ann Sexton had such a deep, ironic voice.

I am still looking for "Rowing towards God."

Kyi May Kaung.

The Burmese Democratic Government in Exile's East Timor trip and Burmese Transition Plan.

From Mizzima.

Burma-The Sanctions Carousel by Benedict Rogers -- from Mizzima

Ben Rogers is one writer whose opinions are realistic and reasonable and who sees policy as a fine-tuned spectrum, not on-off like a switch.


Salman Rushdie --

Dylan Thomas reads "Poetry."

Sylvia Plath interview part 1.

and part 2.

There is nobody now writing like Plath or Sexton.

Poetry in America has become very academic and similar sounding. Detached and distant.
MFA poetry, I call it.

Blog note copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Sylvia Plath reads "Lady Lazarus."

Sylvia Plath reads "Daddy"

Recently more suicide in her family.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

How (Allen) Ginsburg died by Gelek Rinpoche --

The "Philip" in the story is composer Philip Glass.

I saw Allen Ginsburg at a poetry reading at Annenberg Center in Philadelphia about 1994. The house manager got me into the packed room (I was ushering) by asking me,
"Kyi, you have something to do in here, don't you?"

So I stepped behind the ropes and stood and listened to Ginsburg and Robert Creeley talking to each other in arm chairs on the stage.

At the end of the discussion, he was looking for his carryall bag like an old lady. Somebody found it for him.

I asked him which was his best poem. He said "Kaddish, definitely Kaddish."

I was too poor to have a book of his poems, but I had "Kaddish" in an anthology, so he signed that.

In 1997 I went to Boulder, and just before I got there, I saw Ginsburg had died on TV. In Boulder, it turned out my hostess knew Ann Waldeman and took me to Ginsburg's funeral service at the Naropa Institute.

While Ginsburg's voice read poetry on tape, his photograph was ceremoniously burned.

It was sad but there was a sense of closure about it all.

I rather like Tibetan Buddhism, which seems to me more in tune with the western world than the Theravada Buddhism of my home country.

Blog copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Somali pirates -- pictures --

Why Somali piracy is flourishing --

A situation not unlike Burma

Friday, April 10, 2009

Johns Hopkins criticism of Cyclone Nargis relief in Burma.

I believe the Johns Hopkins report.

NGOs have an axe to grind. They need to go in and out and get the co-operation of the junta.

Instead of denying the report, they should aim to prevent abuses and provide safeguards and a witnessing presence.

I left a copy of this note on The Irrawaddy comment site.


Art of dying (fragment 2) by William Agudelo --

Requiem for a horse
that I would be happy to have
the horse
as well as the

This poem -- copyright Kyi May Kaung.

Ho la! Museum of American Poetics -- one could live here forever.

This is a wonderful "master archive" of all the poets you have ever met, and have yet to meet.

Kyi May Kaung

Theories, Paradigms or Models in Burma Studies by Kyi May Kaung, Asian Survey, 1995.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Trade Union activists arrested after return to Burma --

Free courses on line at Massachusetts Institute of Technology --

from Generation 88 email.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Kyi May Kaung's portraits on display at American University Library.

Min Gun, Ma Thitsar and Lady Vanda -- oil on canvas -- portraits Copyright Kyi May Kaung

Photos -- copyright V.L.

Comment left on Irrawaddy site about removing Burma sanctions

Congressmen warn Presdt. Obama's administration not to lift sanctions --

The Congressmen are right.

The junta has done nothing positive and has increased in both income (from gas sales) and brutality.

The Obama administration can talk to spdc if it wants, but sanctions should not be lifted first.

Very soon, by 2010, the date of the "elections" that spdc is determined to push through, it will be evident enough that talking will have failed.

Sr. Gen. Than Shwe did not even see Mr Gambari, the UN envoy this time, when he saw Daw Suu, or Daw Suu saw him.

They could continue playing this game indefinitely -- the "constructive engagement people" are getting excited about nothing, as regards Burma.

They are thinking they can influence the Obama administration because they think it's a new administration, ideologically always in favor of "talking."

Obamas classlessly classy in London -- from New York Times --

Friday, April 03, 2009

Kyi May Kaung -- Oct 08 paper at Burma Studies -- "Weakness of Traditional Area Studies Approach and Burma"

Burma Studies has been traditionally organized as a subject discipline as Area Studies. In this approach what happens within the national boundaries of a country (only) is implicitly treated as relevant to the study of the problems of that country. At least two decades to four decades of Burma Studies has shown that these parameters are too limited. It has resulted in scholars not talking or collaborating with each other as much as they should, and not paying enough attention to systemic and regional matters, not to mention the international setting in which Burma needs to operate and Burma studies needs to operate.

For instance academic articles and journalistic ones are event driven and have time only to speak about the most micro-economic of matters, whereas it is macro economics that we need to understand. The historians, some of whom hark back to an ultra-nationalistic model, have also failed us, as they are unable to handle the problems of the moment and apparently see nothing wrong with the SPDC's paradigm. Most of the Burma scholarship is focused on subject matter which is limited to Burma only without enough cross-system, cross-national, intra and inter-regional and international analysis. That this approach has failed is widely evident from how the junta has taken advantage of the misguided approach of Friends of Burma and the international community to "depoliticize" Burma strategy during Cyclone Nargis. As a result the aid has disappeared into the junta's pockets, Ban ki-Moon's visit did not succeed, nor did that of Mr. Gambari during the Saffron Revolution last year, nor have any of the UN Rapporteurs since 1988. At the same time Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest, NLD leadership and members and other dissidents have been under arrest or under severe oppression, and the junta is continuing with "business as usual" - in fact even has windfall profits from natural gas etc.

My 1994 dissertation and my article in Asian Survey that summarized this, mentioned that we need to look at systems which were then similar to Burma's such as the then Soviet Union and the PRC and economic and hopefully political reforms there. We also need to look at China and India now and their preferred position as economically strong neighbors of Burma, and China and India; the United States and the western world and China and India as strongly emerging powers in this world as we knew it. The dissident community is now highly conscious of this, but the academic is not.

I would like to propose that the Burma academic community reach out to other approaches, including the dissident community, and the artistic and writerly ones, which are now at the forefront. This would result in much more cogent advice, and much less waste of economic and human resources in the international responses to ongoing and recurrent major crises in Burma. That the crises will continue and also continue to escalate is beyond doubt.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Burma and World --

1. World financial and banking/money systems need reform -- obviously.

2. Burma itself needs stabilization and structural change, which encompasses Economic Reforms of all sorts and Political Reform, within the country itself.

3. Problem with "constructive engagement" is it "talks to" "trades with" SPDC as it is, without asking for any Reforms.

I think few people have this clear in their heads.

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

Chinese yaun becoming international currency -- at least for China trade --

Chinese New Year cake on imported Chinese plate -- photo copyright Kyi May Kaung

Fun blog that follows Michelle Obama's fashions --

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Boston Globe article by Senator Greg Judd --Stand firm on Burma.

"Listen to one who will be heard least -- Aung San Suu Kyi" and the Burmese Democrats.

AIDS -- Dying and Alone in Myanmar -- by Seth Mydans in New York Times --


use condoms every time and from beginning to end.

don't have casual sex or while drunk or on drugs. don't share needles.

monks contracted AIDS from infected shaving thindone dah --

Peace Poems of Nobel Peace Prize nominee -- Rev. Thich Nhat Hanh --

Comment I left on Irrawaddy site about old sanctions "debate" and Burma --

Indonesian stick puppet playing with a Burmese chinlon cane ball. Chinlon is a game played in a circle, all about keeping ball in the air. There are no winners nor losers, all about not allowing ball to fall and skill in catching it in joints; elbows, between neck and head etc. Text and photo copyright Kyi May Kaung.

As I pointed out when I debated Derek Tonkin on sanctions on BBC Hardtalk during the Saffron Revolution in September 2007,

policy is not binary -- On-off like a switch --

It is a continuum like a line. From middle school math we know there are an infinite number of points on a line,

between sanctions (themselves all different sorts) and "constructive engagement" also on different levels. In between are many different "policy mixes" like different products a factory produces.

That's why people get stuck -- because they think policy is only one thing X or the other Y.

Think of Nixon and China and the start from ping-pong diplomacy and how much China has changed now, especially economically, to the point where China now holds bulk of US Treasury Bills and it's "Chimerica" in an economics sense.

I'm tired of this "remove the Burmese sanctions debate."

They won't get removed soon if junta continues this way.

No matter Daw Suu and NLD extend their hands always. They can't shake hands with empty air, or worse, with a bayonet.

Copyright -- Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)

Re-posting -- Kyi May Kaung's 2001 article on sanctions and Burma -- from the Irrawaddy --

Kyi May Kaung's comments on "Burmese Democracy Movement has no vision" in Irrawaddy --

Please scroll down for comments.

Basically, it's all "bull" to say the Democracy Movement "has no vision."

How else could thousands of people sustain themselves over a decades-long Struggle, under constant severe Repression, without a well thought out Vision and Plan??

It's amazing what passes for "thought" among junta apologists. It's they who have no cohesive argument because they try to make the corpse sweet smelling by puffing cheap perfume at it.

Reputable magazines should not publish that drivel except perhaps to spark debate.

There's too much "death by friendly fire" and "bending over backwards to be fair."

"We are on the rebound with Obama" by Mulindwa Edwards, first appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus.

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--