Saturday, April 26, 2008

Burma Vs Myanmar

I remember when I was in high school, we started to learn about the countries in South East Asia. And one of those countries is Myanmar. However, when I came here, my professor kept using the word Burma and not Myanmar. Why? I wondered. Did he get it wrong or did the name changed since I left high school?

I realize I have been really ignorant of the issues facing the world today. I remember my dad telling me once about this lady called Aung San Suu Kyi who was held in house arrest in "Myanmar" for trying to fight for her people. That was the first time I heard about her name and that's pretty much all I knew about this lady.

Only after I attended a class with Betty Williams, a Nobel Peace Laureate that I realize that this lady had won the elections in 1990. She won 80% of the people's vote and is rightfully the prime minister of the country. That is the highest democratic win in the whole world. But the military regime did not recognize her and instead put her under house arrest. And though she was freed a few times she is now still under house arrest till this day! She couldn't even be with her husband when he passed away in 1999! Imagine that!!! She has been under house arrest for over 17 years! She just recently celebrated her 62nd birthday in isolation. Only her maid and the doctor is permitted to enter her house!

What kind of life is this?

Argh...!!! How frustrating can the world be?

It hurts me soo much when I start learning about these things. These are just one of the issues that I choose to talk about. But there are sooo many issues out there in the world and there are no fast solutions to these problems. Human trafficking, "terrorism" are just one of the many issues that plague the world today. And just sitting in class discussing the so called solutions to these problems gives you the feeling that there is nothing that we can do to save the world.

Such a terrible feeling I tell you. People in Burma are suffering so much for the lack of freedom in their own country. Democracy is just a word for them and even Aung San Suu Kyi mentioned in her writing "In Quest of Democracy" that they are "rice robots". And though the international body is trying to take measures to force the government in Burma to change their systems, nothing much is being done. Many foreign companies like Pepsi, Carlsberg, Heineken Beer, Apple Computer, and Toyota to name a few have discontinued or lessened their operations because of the country's international reputation. Even the World Bank has ended its relationship with the military regime sending a clear message that investment in Burma should be considered extremely risky. Efforts are going on as we speak to discourage tourism to Burma because it inadvertently helps the military junta in its denomination in the country.

Are you doing your part in "helping" the regime?

But if these actions aren't doing anything, what else can we do? International scrutiny can only reach a certain point. What action needs to be taken or what tragedy needs to happen before the government finally changes?

The military regime changed the English word of Burma to Myanmar in 1989. But many countries do not recognize this because its a symbol of accepting the legitimacy of the ruling military regime. What actions are you taking to make yourself more aware on this situation?

It is proper to doubt, to be uncertain... Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing. Nor upon tradition, nor upon rumors... When you know for yourself that certain things are unwholesome and wrong abandon them... When you know for yourself that certain things are wholesome and good, accept them.

Aung San Suu Kyi, "In Quest of Democracy" (1991)

1 comment:

Terra Shield said...

They were Burma first, and then they changed their name to Myanmar. Some people just use the old name cause they are more familiar with it... like our parents, because when they were in school it was Burma.

Kind of a similar case with Mumbai/Bombay, or Peking/Beijing, etc....