Monday, July 30, 2012

Kyi May Kaung's short story Black Belt in Himal Southasia Magazine Himal has a print and on line editions. It is extremely well-regarded, like Time Magazine or Indonesian Tempo. Dixit who wrote the article about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rohingya is the founder/chief editor. Last year they commissioned an article from me - which I titled Potemkin Politics. KMK

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Burma's Daw Aung San Suu Kyi being criticized for not speaking up for the Rohingya more strongly

Kyi May Kaung's comment on Burma "reforms" left on Irrawaddy website

Good. Now you've heard it from Larry Diamond, you'd better believe it. I and a few others have been saying throughout that all the sanctions should not be lifted too soon. I myself am of the opinion Burma: Reforms? What Reforms? As Prof. Diamond has pointed out, and so has Daw Suu, this is only the start, a lot more needs to be done. In the winter of 2008-2009, I acted as Coordinator for 5-6 well known (and well regarded)experts on Burma in money and banking, agricultural economics, civil and military relations, macro economics and constitutional and electoral law to draft a Plan for Democracy and Development for the National Coalition Government of Burma (NCGUB - or the Burmese Democratic Government in Exile) which you can still find on their website. Since Sept 2011, you media types were so drunk on the change rhetoric yourselves and getting a foothold inside Burma, that you never even bothered to read those 20 pages. While I worked on the Plan for Democracy and Development, I saw many reports by Diamond and others from the 90s onwards, which I advised the NCGUB/The Burma Fund to declassify and place on its website. The Plan does not specify how to get to the ideal state. I offered to work through step by step negotiation points with them, based on benchmarks which have been in place since the 90s, but NCGUB/TBF declined. In this way this Plan is like The Future of Iraq project which called on 200! Iraqi exiles for Transition ideas - see Washington Post's correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Inside Iraq's Green Zone, pp. 40-41. (chapter - Building a Bubble - A Deer in the Headlights) My 1994 dissertation of the stultifying effects of a top-down command economy and political system can also be read on line at Penn Commons. Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.)
Bronze strelitza leaf - Copyright Kaung

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Moshe Yegar - Muslims in SE Asia

Burma - NLD's U Win Tin allowed to republish his books after 33 years

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Syria - USA & Coalition of Unwilling in Geneva

Syrian defense minister and deputy killed by suicide bomber in Damascas The deputy is Assad's brother in law. Analysts say this could be end of the Assad regime.

Aung Tun Thet's talk and interview in Chiangmai, Thailand

in Burmese -he's on the "advisory board" What use are these platitudes and generalizations from this self styled "sayagyi" why is the reporter just accepting every "wise saying" he says? Why did Payap U and Irrawaddy and Burma regime for that matter, give him "the time of the day?" So what's the "appropriate pace" of reforms and what are they? Never answered any of the Qs he posed himself. Waste of time and energy from a "san kone myay lay" (wastes rice and makes the world heavier) --

Siamese King Uthonpom's grave near Mandalay, Burma to be destroyed Uthompom was retired in a monastery when Hsinbyushin invaded Ayuthia in 1767. He was pulled out of the monastery and taken to Burma, where he died. The present Burmese military regime is making this great move for Thai-Burma relations. Brilliant.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Burmese military history - Bob Hudson on Burmese king Alaunghpaya's "little war toys."

As Cambodia goes, so goes Burma - Emperor has No Clothes

From: AHRC Network [] Sent: Monday, 16 July 2012 9:02 AM To: Subject: CAMBODIA: The Emperor wears no clothes FOR PUBLICATION AHRC-ETC-020-2012 July 16, 2012 An article by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission CAMBODIA: The Emperor wears no clothes It was not in my schedule to write an article for publication today. But I sensed anticipation by some readers – and perhaps by the Phnom Penh regime itself. To Cambodians cowed by authorities, this article stands to remind that rights and justice are worth fighting for, and dictators must know it is human nature to yearn for civil rights and freedom. Following publication of my article, "Respect Ideals and Concepts, not Arbitrary Leaders," in this space on July 1, an open letter – marked For Publication – from the Kingdom of Cambodia's Ambassador for the United Kingdom Hor Nambora arrived in my e-mail box. AHRC published the letter along with editorial comment supportive of democratic ideals. Personally, I thought it a bit odd that the Ambassador for the United Kingdom sent me the open letter, rather than Hem Heng, Ambassador to the United States, where I reside. But the young Hor, son of Hun Sen's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, is Hun Sen's elite diplomat: A holder of a doctorate degree from Budapest; advisor to the Cambodian government with rank of Minister; and Hun Sen's special envoy to promote Cambodia's candidacy to the United Nations Security Council for 2013-2014. Claiming "it difficult to take seriously someone" like me who "snaps rudely from the sidelines," he wrote painstakingly, "One can only hope that you stop writing such virulent criticisms of the democratically-elected government of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and those organisations such as the Asian Human Rights Commission will stop pandering to you." The open letter is an indication that my decades-long advocacy for open, fair and free elections in Cambodia, described in my essays published here and elsewhere, has irritated some officials of the Cambodian dictatorship. The bombastic rhetoric of Ambassador Hor is consistent with the present elite's authoritarian strand, the a'tma anh (the I-ism) that demands complete obedience, as did Pol Pot's Angkar-on-High. Yet, Cambodia endorsed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and integrated its principles into her Constitution. The Covenant says, "Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice." The letter took me to Buddha's words 2,500 years ago: "In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for truth, and have begun striving for ourselves," and "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." Hor wanted his open letter publicized. The AHRC posted it on its website along with its note reiterating its commitment to the survival of democracy and human rights through "free exchange of ideas and opinions" expressed in a "polite manner." It affirmed, "The free expression of views by all people is the primary way that a democracy can begin to confront and resolve problems." It calls for a "vigorous democratic discourse on the issues in Cambodia..." The AHRC note says, "The current situation in Cambodia is not reflective of the ideal enshrined in Cambodia's Constitution and the promise made to the Cambodian people; that of a functional liberal democracy . . . still a distant dream for the Cambodian people." My e-mail box was quickly filled with messages – for which I am most grateful – from Cambodians and others inside the country and abroad. I apologize to the reporter from Cambodia's Voice of Democracy radio for not providing my response to the young Hor's letter as I don't believe a polemic serves any cause, and the Ambassador's letter never discussed the points I raised in my article. I do not deny that Hun Sen won the recent local Sangkat election and earlier elections. But winning an election through the liberal use of threats, intimidation, bribes, and irregularities does not make a government "democratically elected." The people never voted their conscience freely and fairly. The international community acknowledges that the Cambodian elections still fall short of international standards. Comments I received from Cambodians in the country – in Phnom Penh and elsewhere – reaffirm to me that in general, Cambodians' quotidian passivity has long been misinterpreted as acceptance and support of the regime. I have written of the growing discontent with the status quo as the regime fails to deal with the "elephant in the room" domestically, and with the competing interests of foreign powers. Pressed by both the Chinese and Vietnamese for access to commercial development opportunities, for example, the government of Hun Sen has resorted to the strategy of offering long term leases on terms favorable both to the requesting nation and to the domestic political leaders whose pockets will be lined with the profits. Similarly, unwilling to provoke a primary benefactor, the Hun Sen government has declared itself neutral in the fomenting conflict over jurisdiction in the South China Sea. These actions do not comprise a foreign policy that can be sustained over time by a nation that hopes to remain independent. The bleeding of Cambodia for private profit is undertaken in the name of development. More than 2 million hectares of Cambodia's rural areas have been taken away from the population for development of agro-industrial plantations by foreign firms. The most recent land grabbing involved the sugar-cane industry. Domestic producers have been stripped of 75,000 hectares of productive land that now is farmed by foreign-owned entities. The European Union's initiative "Everything but Arms" (EBA) intended to help the least developed countries by lifting quotas and duties, is now viewed by activists as serving unintentionally to boost fierce land grabbing in Cambodia in the sugar industry. Activists called on European Union's consumers to fight what they refer to as "blood" sugar. Early this month, rights groups and representatives of affected areas in Cambodian joined forces in a campaign to urge the world's consumers to boycott Tate and Lyle Sugars and American Sugar Refining (Domino Sugar brand). A video and petition are available on the Internet []. "Crops have been razed. Animals have been shot. Homes have been burned to the ground. Thousands of people have been left destitute. Some have been thrown in jail for daring to protest. Despite the abundant evidence of these crimes, none of the responsible individuals and companies has been held to account." Last week, as representatives from ASEAN countries and from China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States were meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodian military police in riot gear surrounded protesters at Freedom Park. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights described how Long Panha, a protester and employee of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), was beaten "viciously across the head with batons. He was pulled to the ground and held in a prone position, blood gushing from his face, before being hauled by his arms and legs into the back of a nearby police van…" In the words of CCHR President Ou Virak, "This incident represents yet another shameful attempt by the Phnom Penh authorities to silence peaceful protesters in an effort to present a picture of stability in the country to visiting dignitaries." Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams urged visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to tell Hun Sen "in public and private" that closer ties with the US will not be possible without significant improvements in Cambodia's deteriorating human rights situation. Cambodians are again circulating Amy Simmons' "Life in a Cambodian rubbish dump" with photos by Spanish photojournalist Omar Havana depicting the desperation of children in Siem Reap – "an astounding sight tourists don't see." Clearly, the nonviolent actions of brave Khmer men and women in protest of the Hun Sen regime's brutality and greed are having an impact. The road to real freedom will be potholed and serpentine, but progress is being made and will accelerate as more Cambodians in the country and abroad learn and engage in strategic thinking motivated by democratic values and principles. In "Lessons of the Arab Spring," Spiegel Online (July 4) published: "The hope that the Arab world would become democratic as quickly as Eastern Europe did 20 years ago has not been fulfilled. But fears that the countries of North Africa and the Middle East – from Morocco in the west to Oman in the east – would sink into chaos one after another have also not materialized." As the Spiegel sees it, the people in the Middle East succumbed to violence for decades and that's why the dictators have stayed in power for so long. "But eventually a point was reached, in every conflict in the region, at which fear changed sides, and at which the effect of violence was reversed. Instead of producing subjugation, it triggered revolt. It happened under the shah of Iran in 1978, in Tunisia in 2011 – and now it is happening in Syria." And the lessons of the Arab Spring? "For the oppressed, the lesson is: Perhaps the government will want to kill us all. And for the rulers, the lesson is: Despite everything, the people do not give up." In other words, dictators will increase the level of oppression, and the oppressed will not give up. Last week, Cambodian Say Savuth, founder and managing director of vbuildleaders center ( presented his first article on leadership. At a time when Cambodians are seeking one who will be a Cambodian Nelson Mandela or Aung San Suu Kyi, Say Savuth writes, "Who are leaders? Each and every one of us is." He explains, "At first stage, we lead ourselves. Next, we lead team . We can lead team only if we can lead ourselves well enough. Next, we lead a bigger team. The happier the followers we have, the more influential we become leaders ." The article reflects the Buddhist teaching that describes the 10 qualities a leader should acquire (Barmei) in order to become a locus of influence – a Mandela or a Suu Kyi. I would like to close by sharing a Danish fairy tale published in 1837 that seem most fitting as we examine Cambodia, her people, and the international community: Emperor wears no clothes A pair of swindlers told the emperor that they could make dresses from the most beautiful fabric, fabric with special qualities invisible to people who are stupid. To ensure that he would not be the stupid one who could not see the cloth, the emperor sent two trusted men to verify the beauty of the cloth. These couriers could not see the cloth, but were unwilling to admit the truth, so they praised the fine threads woven to make the lovely fabric. The townspeople heard about the cloth. They were interested in learning who among them was too stupid as not to see the cloth. So when the emperor, dressed in the new clothes which he never admitted he could not see, traveled in a procession through the town, the townspeople wildly cheered and praised the emperor's clothes. Then a small child shouted: "But he has nothing on!" The child's words spread quickly from one person to another until everyone in the town shouted "The emperor has no clothes!" The emperor heard what the townspeople said. He knew they were right. But he could not admit he wore no clothes so he continued the procession, naked and exposed, to its conclusion. …………….. The AHRC is not responsible for the views shared in this article, which do not necessarily reflect its own. About the Author: Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. He currently lives in the United States. He can be contacted at . # # # About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bangkok Airport of smiles in Crisis

Helmut Lang - seamless transition from fashion to art

Former Syrian ambassador defects

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

The sacred white bison -

Japanese artist who painted polka dots

Obama breaks with Aung San Suu Kyi, lifts investment ban

American novelist runs into Aung San Suu Kyi's entourage at Mandalay Airport on April 1

Why racial purism theories (in Burma) are bunk here's the archaeological evidence on Indian and Chinese influence since time of Pyu in Burma see also note on DNA. FYI, this compilation was made inside Burma - a lot by Myanmar Historical Commission researchers and also international researchers such as Bob Hudson and Janice Stargardt. Tun Aung Chain was/is the mentor of Ne Win Mrs/widow Daw Ni Ni Myint. -*

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nora Ephron's samizdat recipes distributed at memorial service

This is how much a book review costs as it could take about a week or more to read the book, and at least 2 days or one to write the review and that magazine publishers hardly pay for anything these days, this sounds reasonable enough. It is about 1/2 of the real costs. And one has to like the book, or hate it, in the first place. At least read it. One editor thought I'd love the book, in fact it had such a bad odor I regretted buying it at hard cover price and never finished reading it, did not feel like it. Don't know now where to chuck the much lauded but useless book. Maybe I should use it as a door stop. On principle I don't review fiction set in Burma because find it limp and unconvincing. And sometimes I decline because I just don't have time - for e.g. to download a whole 2 hour documentary or because I had other things to do, like look after myself. For those of you who thought my book review led to a certain book being made into a movie, you flatter me. Optioned books may never see the silver screen, but the option is bought already (one famous area writer and writing teacher regular tells us in class how his book was made into a movie without his knowledge - he is now suing the movie makers) the book I had not reviewed yet at the time, was liked by a famous actor due to the efforts of the author's agent and marketing PR. And sometimes, to be frank, some people get too pushy and I hate being pushed, so I push back. How dare you say you will call me at 8 PM tomorrow and would I please have the book review ready by then. And you left a message! This does not apply to those of you who sent me books, but which I can't review yet either because 1. They are very heavy books that are hard to read, even for me, i.e. heavy technically, and then events move fast so I get to writing other things 2. Logistical reasons in that the book maybe somewhere else from where I am. 3. However if you are over 80 and spent 19 years in prison, I would make an exception for you. Maybe I could take a plane to go get the book back, yes? 4. This reminds me of the former friend who got her nose out of joint because I did not review her book (self-published) as I was in process of being pushed out of one job. She did not give me a free book. As the book was self-published, I'd have to order her book sight unseen at the bookstore, it was not displayed on the shelves. So I can understand the friend who could not give me a review copy, as she had given away too many already, she said. And I believe her. But as I was too poor to buy the book so I never got to read it. However, another mutual friend came to see me, and spent time with me, even though I told her my review would be broadcast in Burma in Burmese and probably would raise her sales zero %. She even patiently recalled from memory the first paragraph of her bestselling book and recited it for me, can you beat that. The story I love best was of a German-born woman who was asked to review a book in German, and again, "I'll call you tomorrow for your ideas." kmk
Balloon floats over 11th century temple in Bagan, Burma. Frame grab.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thai artist's wire drawings a la Alexander Calder

Monday, July 09, 2012

40 !! monasteries torched in Naypyitaw (new Burmese capital) to make way for "new development" time for reform touters to wake up.

Watpad, on line story telling -

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi invited to light Olympic torch in London -

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

final draft of script Amadeus by Peter Shaffer

Kathleen Battle sings Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) - Mozart's Coronation Mass - K 317 conducted by Hebert von Karajian

Engelbert Humperdink to sing in Rangoon, Burma

Glimpse Correspondents' Program - 10 weeks

100 $ weekend in Oslo a little late to try this this summer, but this guy actually saw Daw Suu giving her Nobel Lecture. -- this is strictly advice for only summer visits. - it could still be cold. I was in Helsinki in June in a hotel, and it was cold. *

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Oxbridge student essay on nations and nationalism

Burl Ives-Ave Maria