Burma, America, The World, Art, Literature, Political Economy through the eyes of a Permanent Exile.
"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. Sometimes we must interfere. . . There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention . . . writers and poets, prisoners in so many lands governed by the left and by the right." Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Speech, 1986, Oslo.
This entire site copyright Kyi May Kaung unless indicated otherwise.
Thank you again and again, "Hla Ohn Mae"--for telling me your story.
The script is in the form of a reporter (male or female) asking the woman questions, and she answering.
It is one of two monologs I have written. The other one is autobiographical and is based on memories spurred by my old clothes that no longer fit, as Jefferson said of old outdated institutions. This one was filmed by Franny Soans in the 90s, and I did two experimental readings at The Studio Theatre in Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. Thank you Franny.
Just by chance I started reading this series from book #3, Bones of the Hills, at the end of which Genghis dies.
I bought it at the Borders near me which went out of business about 5 years ago.
Unlike the overblown fantastic over striving journalese or journalism--lese -- of Siege: 68 hours inside Taj Hotel Mumbai
Iggulden writes with a clean steely visceral as well as violent and visual sense of action, character and place, and manages to make us feel as if we are really Genghis father being attacked and betrayed on the Mongolian steppe. (I just read about 70 pages! of the free sample on Amazon).
In book one, the beginning, he does not relate the usual beginning, from Secret History of the Mongols--that Genghis Khan was born from the union of a wolf with a fallow deer.
Iggulden stays away from the myth with the seamy grimy harsh and brutal reality--
but in the third person limited point of view (also favored by GRRM--Game of Thrones)
he has the ability to switch from one point of view to the next, even the language changes, with complete clarity and credibility, somewhat like Dickens or Tolstoy. So why are some popular writing teachers still teaching you must not "switch heads"--Why not? I still remember how a classmate almost screamed at me--"You just switched point of view here."
For me, I know the main facts of the Genghis story already, from reading about it, including the scholarly work by Mark Rossabi, over the last 17 years or so.
Yet Conn Iggulden still manages to draw me in with a wealth of textural detail, without slowing down the action.
Or rather the action isn't frenetic as it is in an action movie, but with a heightened consciousness of the characters, who are after all constantly in life or death situations on an hostile environment.
I think it's all superb, and deserves to be the bestsellers they are, Conn Iggulden's books.
I have not read his Rome series.
The only Rome novel I have read being Robert Graves' horrific I, Claudius. (Again like GRR Martin's world in Song of Ice and Fire series).
So, a lot to look forward to.
BTW, if you contemplate buying a novel, always listen to the audio edition too. Genghis: Birth of a Nation is read beautifully.
In the extensive free sample, through the action/story, Iggulden weaves in how disparate the tribes were, and Tartar and Mongol are not the same, and also there was no Mongol Nation before Genghis. (Spelled "Chingiz" by Rossabi).
Iggulden does this by showing how Genghis and his elder brother Becktar suffered when they spent a year each being "broken in" with their mother's tribe when they were "waiting for their bethrothed to come into their monthly blood."
He also shows excellently how Genghis' own clan became the efficient conquering and killing military machine it became.
One was the way the arbans and the tumens were organized. I am not going to explain here what they were, look it up yourself.
Another was that the Mongol tribes, unlike say the Egyptians or the Mormons or the Burmese monarchs, knew that incest could destroy your gene pool and weaken the tribe/s.
So they practiced raids or getting brides by abduction or negotiation, or by rape and capture during war.
I am not recommending it as a marital practice, I am just pointing it out.
Jon Krakauer in his book Under the Banner of Heaven describes how many Mormon women in modern times "gave birth to blobs of blood" because incest was so common, fathers and uncles "marrying" daughters and nieces in a chilling abusive "pattern."
So I don't think all these "racial purity" or blood lines theories are any good.
Anyway, read Iggulden, you can't go wrong and you will also learn a lot of how the Mongols conquered the world between the Western borders of present-day China up to Hungary and Vienna in Europe.
And how they became the Moghuls in India.
(Whichever way you look at it, Burma is a failed system and not worth expending grey matter on. The present author was born in Burma.)
Kyi May Kaung is a Burmese-American writer based in the United States, noted for her searing depictions of life in third and fourth world countries and her renditions of strange points of view, such as the first person narrative of a stripper (The Lovers) or of a Lion who falls in love with a human princess (Beast).
She has written a novel, Wolf, short stories, novellas, monologues and a play and screenplay, Shaman, that was praised by Edward Albee.
She also writes poetry and has done dozens of readings in N. America, Europe and Southeast Asia. She has published two poetry chapbooks,Pelted with Petals: The Burmese Poems, and Tibetan Tanka, and is in the process of publishing more.
She is a winner of the William Carlos Williams Award of the Academy of American Poets and has won a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Award for Shaman, when it was still a one paragraph outline for a play called Flashback. It has since had a script-in-hand reading in Washington, DC.
Kyi was also a Pew finalist twice in Literature, for Shee-Monkey goes West, an allegory in poetry and prose, and for her two act play Shaman.
She worked for 13 years in the overseas Burmese democracy movement,as well as being a senior research analyst on air, in international broadcasting to Burma 1997-2001. She then worked as a senior analyst for The Burma Fund, affiliated with the Burmese Democratic Government in Exile.
Ms. Kaung holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in Political Economy and City Planning, respectively.
Her formal education informs the depth of understanding evident in her writings.
This is the greatest tragedy--only read about it now--Mick Jagger's girlfriend, L'Wren Scott, successful model and designer, committed suicide in March by hanging herself from a doorknob with a scarf, and left her entire estate worth $9 m to Jagger.
I finished reading The Siege: 68 hours inside the Taj Hotel Mumbai about 7-10 days ago.
The hyped up "journalistic" language annoyed me till the end, until I got to the section where the authors reported on how they did their research and organized the story/structured the story for the book.
Then the language stopped "trying too hard" and settled down almost into boring academic style, seemingly shooting to the other extreme.
Beyond that, I would still recommend the book, for the stories.
It is very well-structured and scened, like a movie, and begins with one of the terrorists slitting the throat of a fisherman whose dinghy they commandeered as they rush towards the seaside Taj Hotel.
(Oh, they should have had a map of the seven Mumbai Islands)
The back story of how the terrorists were recruited and trained is also scary and informative.
I also like it for the complex weaving of the stories of everyone involved, from the Pakistani-American CIA operative double agent David Headly, to the girl in the computer center and the brave chefs and waiters.
It also draws comparisons between India's slow and tied up in red tape government sector and its efficient private sector, which I thought was very perceptive and real.
Also, as in the best fiction, the "characters" i.e. the people, change over time.
Magnificent, if you can get past the bloated language at the sentence level.
It should just be pulled off the shelves again, properly copy-edited, and re-issued as a second edition with the same cover.
An excellent and comprehensive blog site on Burma, that I can never recommend highly enough.
Disclosure--I have an open invitation to post on this site whenever I
wish, Thank you Webmaster, but I seldom do now as its coverage is
already so comprehensive, and some of my
stuff can be considered as ads for my fiction and art work, and have no
direct link to Burma news nor analysis.
This was on the CNN international site, pl share widely--
"CNN TV has been taken off air in Thailand. The people of Thailand deserve to know what is happening in their own country, and CNN is committed to telling them. Follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter, and share your updates from Thailand via CNN iReport."
Bah!! Burma, It's all one god-damned play. Who is writing the script? Who do you think? Who THINKS they are writing the script the foreign governments and the NGOS. Who is doing central casting? Both the former and the latter. But the former has a larger population to draw on and can pay and promise more. Who are the major players and actors. Everyone you see on TV and the news. How will it end. Probably not well. One thing is certain though we are in the End Game.
"Conflict over land, and the right to use it, is as old as community . Yet in recent years, in the face of the global financial crisis and growing food & energy security concerns, global attention to land conflicts triggered by ‘land grabbing’ has increased. Land grabbing stresses the in -equitability of land tenure change that occur within a nation, but in conjunction with national, regional and international actors. In Myanmar a growing number of these cases have been recorded . One notable and evidently news -worthy example is that of the Letpadaung copper mine 2 expansion project , which has been behind a series of land grabs that have led to nationwide protests. In a nation where around a third of the population lives below the poverty line 3 , and 70% are dependent on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods, issues of land and the right to it are essential. This paper explores discourses surrounding the copper mine expansion project’s land grabs and related protests as produced by the national and international media 4 . In other words , it analyzes how media has chosen to give weight to certain themes related to this case of land grabbing over time and then contextualizes the results--"
I did not do anything, just cut and paste, but it became poetry, so leaving as is. kmk
"I have been saying and writing about this for 2 years - and even the
anti-racist senior western diplomats kept telling me there was NO
EVIDENCE or BASIS to establish the LINK between the anti-Rohingya mass
violence, anti-Muslim GENOCIDAL hate speech, and everything else that is
so 19th century and so despicably racist at the communal level AND the
'reformist' Government of President Thein Sein.
Even Indonesia, the
largest Muslim country in the world with a vested economic interest in
Burma's resource extractive sector, keeps promoting the policy fantasy
that all that that is violent and hate-ridden is merely 'communal,
'sectarian' - or to use the fancy jargon 'horizontal'.
is the latest news analysis brought to you not by activists but but the
United States Government's official Burmese language program.
am actually surprised that the United States that spends billions of
dollars on international intelligence gathering can't figure out who has
all along been behind 969. "neo-Nazi Buddhist" campaign.
One can't help
wonder whether this slow intelligence gathering is the result of the
fact that the genocidal campaign is directed at the Muslims and the
oil-less Rohingya - not at those who may be linked with US strategic
and Parliament (President and ex-gen. Thein Sein, Speaker of the House
and ex-general Shwe Mann and the Minister of Religious Affairs and
ex-general Hsan Hsint) are reportedly directly behind 969, Myanmar's
Nazi-inspired "Buddhist" movement led by Wirathu and other racist
I salute the two brave and truthful Burmese reporters - Daw Ingyin Myaing and U Sithu Aung Myint for this story.
SOURCE: The Voice of America Burmese Language News Analysis, 19 May 2014
"The company was founded in 1994, spurred by what Bezos called his "regret minimization framework", which described his efforts to fend off any regrets for not participating sooner in the Internet business boom during that time. In 1994, Bezos left his employment as vice-president of D. E. Shaw & Co., a Wall Street firm, and moved to Seattle. He began to work on a business plan for what would eventually become Amazon.com.
After reading a report about the future of the Internet which projected annual Web commerce growth at 2,300%, Bezos created a list of 20 products which could be marketed online. He narrowed the list to what he felt were the five most promising products which included: compact discs, computer hardware, computer software, videos, and books. Bezos finally decided that his new business would sell books online, due to the large world-wide demand for literature, the low price points for books, along with the huge number of titles available in print. Amazon was originally founded in Bezos' garage in Bellevue, Washington."
That said, I would recommend self-publishing or publishing under your own imprint (own press logo) especially for authors such as former political prisoners in Burma--this is like an open, low cost (comparative) and widely disseminated electronic publishing and you also get 35-70% of the list price. Besides, more people read and buy books on Kindle and other electronic devices these days than in the print form.
In short, brick and mortar book stores are on the way out, already out, as see closure of Borders.
50 Shades of Grey was self-published, and many others, including a friend, who is on the NYTs bestseller list.
Electronic publishing has changed the face of the 21st century book and multimedia publishing industry.
Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.) 5-16-2014
Thank you to the reporter who just spoke to me, and I look forward to seeing your published article.
Burma Bubble-- Colliers Man--see DVB interview said
--he says there is no bubble to burst as no bank financing—maybe no bubble to burst in western sense. He thinks Burmese land prices will even out over 10-20 years. He thinks the rich landowners are asking outrageous prices depending on what they think they will get.
Know what I think? I think there is a Bubble and it will burst.
How and when?
Right before or immediately after the 2015 "election" whichever month that is.
Since 2012, one Burma visitor says prices, not just land, food, everything, has increased 150%
This is ALL fueled by the expectation that there will be change and it's all going to be hunky dory.
But the military regime is already doing its time tested best at shooting itself in the foot.
1. genocide grade mistreatment of Rohingya--2 amped up war with Kachin--3. amped up land grabs.
4. Presdt Obama just again extended sanctions.
5. One white skinned DVB correspondent has been deported, a brown skinned one sentenced to 12 years in jail.
6. I got the inside scoop since about 6 months ago that "advising the Bur Presdt" has not been going well and now "rats are leaving the sinking ship."
Mother's Day coming up this Sunday--if you're a mother don't let any of this happen to your children.
My novella FGM is still in last stages of publication, but these will also be great mother's day gifts.
They're not like a bunch of flowers which will be thrown out in one week, but then, mothers can change the world.
Links to my recent publications of novellas and short stories. Out of
6, 2 are still in last stages of publication, The Rider of Crocodiles
and FGM, because the font is too small in my opinion in the print
Of course, on the Kindle, font size can be enlarged.
A Visit with the Proverbial Child, in the Garden of Paradise.
For some years now, really decades, this little boy, about four years old, has been appearing in my dreams. It happened immediately after 1988, when the mass pro-democracy demonstrations failed in Burma, and a lot of people died. And all my hair turned white.
Links to my recent publications of novellas
and short stories. Out of 6, 2 are still in last stages of publication,
The Rider of Crocodiles and FGM, because the font is too small in my
opinion in the print edition.
Of course, on the Kindle, font size can be enlarged.
My Project translating U Win Tin's memoir, What's That? A Human Hell. Photos and translation copyright KMKaung-- I can only work on this 2-4 hours per week. So far am about 1/6th into the 300 page book, but it is single space in a very small Burmese font. I also add footnotes or end notes as I go along, but it will all need to be typed up.
I can't do literary translation on a computer.
Need time to think.
Of course, I've read it all the way through the first time, but I usually read each chapter through and make notes before I translate.
Anyone who thinks they can do a good translation fast should give it a try.
I am sick of journalists asking for excerpts and so once and for all I will say here, my US-based copyright/intellectual property lawyer has advised me not to give out a single copy.
I make hard copies as I go along and keep in different places.
So it's good I don't have a typed copy except to show the first-- pages to a prospective literary agent.
So if you are not an agent, don't ask me.
I have realized that since I read U Win Tin a lot now, I am picking up his brusque manner of speaking.
My reading from 1995 and poster made by my friend, when my She-Monkey script was among the Pew Finalists. Philadelphia.
Pew Charitable Trusts give arts grants of $30,000 each in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
In three tries, I was a Finalist twice.
The first and third entries were in Literature. The second entry was a Crafts year. I had at that point not made any crafts save for sewing, but I entered anyway. The winner was a Hmong refugee who wrote that she had to sew quilts for money, but would like to make a big piece, "to be remembered by."
By the fourth year (1997) I had already moved to DC, and so was not eligible to apply.
For the She-Monkey finalist position (among the first 76 of about 750 entries) my friends bought me a cake with my book title on it.
Shee-Monkey is a book-length poem based on the Chinese folk novel Monkey, but with a female protagonist and a human rights story.
Last night I got the idea that I would like to put out (publish) a collection of my dear cousin, Ko Ko Min Shin's short stories in English.
So if you collected some from Shumuwa 1950s "On the Road"--Lann Paw Hmar series, pl send me pdfs that are readable or a doc. in Zawgyi font.
I have Not Every Needy Poor a Thief, which is based on his idea, that he may not have had time to write it down in Burmese. In any case it has his true authentic voice, which I can hear when I re-read it now.
The second one is of course Not Ordained by Fate--Saung Lu Lin's audio version, which I will translate into English.
I am also looking for a photo of Ko Min Shin.
I know for a fact that he wrote at least 2 other stories, as I remember reading them--
--one on birth control, it really was not that graphic at all, that Ko Ko wanted me to translate very much, but my mother would not let me.
She said the subject matter was not appropriate for a young woman. I was about 18 at the time.
--The other was about a bus driver, having a very rough day, also drawn from life.
This one, Bus Driver, I adapted into a radio play and even delivered it in an envelope at the BBS (Burma Broadcasting Service) gate on Prome Road, for Mr. Percy Loo Nee, head of the English section.
But I suppose Mr. Loo Nee was too afraid to produce it on air, so I never heard from him again.
But even when I was already in the States, he would keep asking about me with my children who took English tuition with him, "How's your mother, the playwright."
At that time I had not written a play yet, but eventually I did--Shaman.
I wrote it in two weeks for a competition.
Shaman is about a spirit spouse or nat kadaw who was abused as a child and has multiple personalities, which manifest themselves as some of the Burmese 37 nats.
When Shaman was still a one paragraph concept called Flashback, it won a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Award for $3000.
In 1996, it was a Pew finalist script and in about 2003, Edward Albee, renowned playwright Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and other plays, read it and said, it is "lovely work."
My friend Peggy Fleming produced and directed and cast a script-in-hand reading in 2003 at her home in DC. I provided the costumes. I will try and scan the photos.
I currently have to convert Shaman into a novel. I don't think it will be too difficult to do. I have already converted it into a screenplay.
But--always short of time-- no matter, I will make myself a life extender (nyaung htauk).
My cousin, the late U Min Shin, winner of the 1962 short story collection prize in Burma, was the eldest brother of Ko Too, on whose life experience Black Rice is very loosely based.
Once I changed his skin color, everything in the story changed, thus only the in the jungle execution, and the Delta ambush (based on a real one also, in which Uncle Cho's son-in-law, U Wa Maung, a navy officer, died)
are real. The rest is all fictional fabrication.
Here are the links where you can buy print or Kindle editions of Black Rice and my other recently published short stories.
WTO since 2001, when I remember everyone so happy abt it. Here quote fr below:
"When China acceded to the World Trade Organization, or WTO, in
December 2001, it did so after all members of the world trading
community agreed that, as a transitioning economy, China still operated
on nonmarket principles. Because of its prevalent anti-competitive
industrial policies and the contradictions between state control and
market mechanisms built into its fundamental economic institutions,
China’s economy could skew the commercial competitive environment for
the entire global economy. As a result, the agreement provided member
countries a means to take into account China’s nonmarket economy status
for the purposes of monitoring and enforcing trade rules set under the
WTO and other international agreements."
Rohingya Genocide Press Release- full official text.
United Nations expert says there are “elements of genocide” against Myanmar’s Rohingya
28 April 2014, London
The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Tomás Ojéa
Quintana has said “There are elements of genocide in Rakhine with
respect to Rohingya.”
Speaking at the London Conference on Decades of State-Sponsored Destruction of Myanmar’s
Rohingya, Ojéa added “It is crimes against humanity. The possibility
of a genocide needs to be discussed. This conference is very important
as it does just that.”
The conference marked the first time top
legal experts, academics and activists have met at the London School of
Economics And Political Science (LSE) and initiated the public debate
on whether the persecution of the Rohingya by Myanmar should be
considered genocide under international law.
included Professor Daniel Feierstein, President of the International
Association of Genocide Scholars; and Professor Gianni Tognoni, General
Secretary, Permanent People’s Tribunal, Rome.
legal experts presented definitions of genocide, mechanisms and models
for justice. Leading human rights researchers and academics as well as
Rohingya refugees offered evidence of decades of systematic persecution
of Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar. Dr Zarni, chair of the conference
and visiting fellow at the LSE, made a case for what he called “the slow
burning genocide” of Myanmar’s Rohingya since 1978 based on three years
of extensive archival research and interviews with military officers
and Rohingya victims.
The conference concluded with a call for
the immediate end to Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya, which it says
amounts to genocide. The message is supported by dozens of concerned
individuals and organisations including: Prudentienne Seward, a survivor
of the Rwanda genocide against Tutsis and Founder of PAX (Peace for the
African Great Lakes), Professor Noam Chomsky of Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Columbia University Professor Gayatria Chakravoty
Spivak, Oxford University Professor Emeritus and founder of Refugee
Studies Barbara Harrell-Bond, London School of Economics Professor Mary
Kaldor and Executive Director Youk Chhang of the Documentation Center of
The call notes, “Every aspect of their (Rohingya)
lives, including marriage, childbirth and ability to work, is severely
restricted. Their right to identity and citizenship is officially
denied; in other words, they are not recognized as humans before the
law… Rohingya are profoundly vulnerable to all forms of oppression and
It points out that alone of all the country’s more
than 130 ethnic groups, only Rohingya are subjected to a policy of
forced population control. By denying the Rohingya legal existence,
designing extensive structures of discrimination and depriving a large
segment of Rohingya population even basic humanitarian services such as
provision of water, food and medicine the Myanmar government and people
are destroying an entire people.
“Our people have been subject
to a national policy of discrimination, persecution and eventual
destruction at the hands of security forces and local extremists for the
past nearly 40 years. I appeal to the world not to let another Rwanda
repeat for Rohingya,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK, which sponsors
legislation at the US Congress calling for the end to persecution of
“The United Nations has taken 20 years to apologise
for its failure to recognise and prevent the Rwandan genocide; the
international community should not repeat the same mistake in Myanmar,”
said Prudentienne Seward.