Monday, February 28, 2011

Semi Democracy Burmese Style (2)

(This episode details the truly unique 15 minutes a day Union Parliament.) 

The recently elected Union Parliament (Pyidaungzu Hluttaw) convened on Jan 31, 2011.

But it appears the Union Parliament of Burma did not or would not sit every weekday as a normal parliament from any civilized nation would be expected to do. Even if the Parliament sits in a particular day it would not sit for more than 20 minutes that day. On average the Union Parliament sits for only 15 minutes a day.

Apparently Than Shwe has learnt his lesson from Myint Aung’s refusal to serve as the Defense Minister and thus he re-programmed the Parliament schedule to go slow as to suit his tight but tricky selection of key persons from among the senior army officers.

On February 8 the second day of the Union Parliament, President-elect Thein Sein submitted the list of 34 proposed ministries and also the second list of 30 hand-picked ministers to the Union Parliament. Obviously both lists were handed to him by his real boss Than Shwe.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Semi Democracy Burmese Style (1)

(This episode is the Cabinet Selection in new Union Parliament.) 

The recently elected Union Parliament (Pyidaugzu Hluttaw) convened on Jan 31, 2011. During next three days the Parliament first elected three candidates for the President and two Vice Presidents of Union of Burma.

The three were Thein Sein (current Prime Minister), Tin Aung Myint Oo (current Secretary 1 of SPDC), and Sai Mau Kham a civilian representing the ethnic minorities. On Friday the fourth of February Thein Sein was elected as the President. He received 408 votes out of total 659 votes while Tin Aung Myint Oo and Sai mau Kham received 171 and 75 votes.

And President-elect Thein Sein immediately received from his real boss Senior General Than Shwe the list of 34 proposed ministries and the second list of 30 ministers. Thein Sein had to submit two lists to the Union Parliament and get approval as the new constitution requires.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ye Min Tun's 8-8-88 Uprising

(This is the direct translation of Ye Min Tun’s ‘Four 8 Uprising and Me’.)  

Practicing politics in Burma is an extremely high risk profession. A politician in dictatorial Burma could be arrested any time and during the long BSPP (Burma Socialist Program Party) rule it could be outright dangerous for a politician to be arrested. Since I was very young I’d heard the tragic stories of many jailed politicians whose lives were forever destroyed. 

I often witnessed the MIS men in a Mazda E2000 mini-truck regularly taking away that old red-flag Communist Yee Mhaing (a) Nyo Mhaing whenever the dates of politically significant events from past approached. Sometimes he came back in few days but sometimes it could take months or even years. His life was so unstable he didn’t have a job. He couldn’t even work as an itinerant laborer and I sometimes felt really bad seeing him wandering from one teashop to another teashop.

I’d also seen mildly-mad Tin Aung Htun who used to live near my great uncle’s house when I was a young boy. He was arrested and tortured by Ne Win’s Government for his involvement in 1974 U Thant Uprising. Since then he would avoid a crowd. Whenever he saw a group of students in school uniform he became really scared and always tried to hide. Even though some students in our neighborhood laughed at his habit of running away and hiding inside the house whenever someone teasingly said to him that the students were coming I always wondered why did he become like that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Taste of Peace in Kachin Land

(This article was written by late Tin Than Oo (a) Lt. Col. Mg Mg Oo in 2003.)

It was a scene I would never forget.

It was about 25 years ago. A cloud of thick black smoke was rising in waves after waves above a place the beauty of which was breathtaking. The temperature was bone-chilling as it was in winter. Even though we tried to keep ourselves warm by the fire, our backs were usually covered with a thin layer of ice. The mist had disappeared only at about 10 in the morning; and only at that moment, the enchanting beauty of the place came into view.

The Mount Emoboum rose high up into the sky, clear and blue like the colour of a massive stone of sapphire, with its crest capped with snow and mist in a cone shape. Flanked by Cheinyin range with snow-covered peaks in the north and the high Mayok range in the south, the view of the Emoboum looked so marvellous.

Unfortunately, the magnificent beauty of nature which looked like the masterpiece of an artist, was tarnished by those who were not able to solve the political conflicts resulting from the ideological differences. The beauty of nature was tarnished by those elements.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Irrawaddy Media : A Donor Stooge?

(Email sent by the Danish Embassy in Bangkok to the Irrawaddy's donors.)

Dear all,

I would like to inform you that the Danish Embassy has decided – after many years of support at a high (may be too high) – level, to discontinue our financial support to the Irrawaddy magazine for 2011.

The decision is based on our current project where the Irrawaddy unfortunately have not delivered what was promised in the project agreement nor have they been able to follow up on the contractual amendments the Irrawaddy themselves requested for.

The contractual agreement between the Danish embassy and Irrawaddy included several project components that in time could help the Irrawaddy become more sustainable and thus less dependent on donor financing.

Unfortunately it seems that this is not a priority for Irrawaddy at this stage. They seemingly prefer the easier option to be totally dependent on donor contributions, an option which in our eyes gives the magazine a less convincing profile than the alternative model, which would show all out efforts to make this a sustainable organization run by exile Burmese, of course with some donor support.

Now the organization appears as a donor stooge run by people who do not feel a great urge to rationalize procedures, to consider possible savings and in general to show the necessary will to prudently manage the scarce donor funds made available to the organization.

It is worth noting that the magazine, which 2010 budget exceeded one million US$, employs 62 members of staff at their Chaing Mai office, with inter alia a very generous and liberal travel policy for senior staff, only sells around 200 magazines per month.

Kind regards,



(Stooge : A person who is paid by someone in authority to do a secret job for them.)