Burma and my Ignorance

I understand that I seemed to be living in vacuum, and until now I didn’t really understand what is going on in Burma. I am on holiday from Oct 1 to today – the national holiday, so I am pretty relaxed and didn’t use the Internet the same way as I did. Pardon me about my ignorance, but I didn’t know what happened in Burma until a BBC reporter sent me an email to ask me whether I am happy about China’s reaction to the events in Burma. At that time, I even don’t know the meaning of Burma, and I looked it up in my online dictionary, and know it is the name of the country. I know the Chinese name very well – Miandian, and Burma is just too different from its Chinese pronounciation. Then I started to see threads on this blog discussing it.

OK. The I learned a little bit more about it via blogs, and some twitter updates. However, I still didn’t get a full picture. When I try to find out information on the Internet about Burma, all my Internet connection just consistently cut off. I have ways like VPN, or proxy to work around it, but just because of my vacation mood, and the fact that I am not at computer most of the time, I didn’t take the trouble to do it yet.

So, let me find out more about it when I have more time (instead of moving from one place to another). Meanwhile, I think it makes sense to start the topic so people can start to talk about it. That discussion can be very interesting.

Something I know is, most of the links in a Google News Search results are not accessible, and trigger the Great Firewall. Someone doesn’t want people in China to know what is happening, even though it is out of China.

22 thoughts on “Burma and my Ignorance

  1. Hello JianShuo,

    if you want to look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar, you can find further informations about Burma/ Birma/ Myanmar.

    More Informatins about the situation there yet, you can find in this Blog: http://www.ko-htike.blogspot.com/ and here: http://www.mizzima.com/

    Info about the Blogger- Actions for Burma: http://www2.free-burma.org/index.php and on my site (only german): http://buettchenbunt.de/node/473

    thank you for writing about this very important theme – and: be careful!

    Good luck for you and your family: XiongShui ()

  2. @Jian Shuo,

    Thank you for starting this topic in your blog. I was actually thinking about the same thing as you did – whether you’re living in a vacuum. *:b I was surprised that someone as knowledgeable as you about many things did not comment on this matter when it happened. I, however, understand that China is a very big country and many people living in big countries do not know what’s going on outside their countries that well. The same goes for people living in the US. To many of them, U.S. = the world.

    Although Myanmar is out of China, China has certain relationships with the Myanmar government, such as selling weapons to them. Perhaps that is why the GFW was triggered when people try to access web sites related to the current situation in Myanmar.

    I don’t see the situation getting any better so far. Still, I hope and pray that it does.

    Grieving for the people who died in this round of protests…

    Ling *:~(

  3. @Jian Shuo

    I don’t understand the purpose of blocking news. It’s going to be out sooner or later. The only thing it is going to accomplish is increase the distrust of the people it claims to represent and damage it’s own credibility.

    As if it’s not already bad enough !

    Oh well, with the increased interactions between China nationals and the rest of the world, they are going to find themselves trying to stop a flood with a tampon.

    Nyuk! Nyuk !

  4. Hi Jian Shuo – after following the events in very close detail, I am of the opinion that the issue in China (regarding their position on Myanmar) is similar to that here in Singapore, albeit much broader. It’s all about trade and investment. Singapore is the second largest investor in Myanmar (with S$1.57B, mainly in the services sector). No need to state which country is the largest investor.

    I really want to be careful what I say, so I don’t get your blog site in trouble… but I think a few facts should be ok? Feel free to delete this post if you are concerned, Jian Shuo…

    China is now a major supplier of consumer and capital goods to Myanmar (mostly through border trade). China also provides a large amount of economic cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, energy and state-owned economic enterprises.

    Governments (Singapore and China – and also India) are averse to sanctions, as history has shown that the poor would suffer mostly, while engagement without strings merely enriches the wrong-doers. What people can do, is petition the governments for ‘smart’ sanctions to be imposed against the junta, targeting certain assets and individuals.

    I am of the opinion, that the last thing China wants, is for their own people to go out to the streets in protest or lobbying efforts against the Chinese government to take action (economically) against the Myanmar military government.

    Now for something else very controversial regarding Myanmar and China, which you may not want to keep posted here…

    I quote from “The Irrawaddy” by author Khun Sam:

    “Welcome to the Macao of northern Burma: Maija Yang, once a backward Kachin State border village but now a bustling boom town with more than a dozen casinos catering to Chinese gamblers sidelined by restrictions in their own country. The frontier-style administration of Maija Yang, 160km north of the Kachin capital Myitkyina, is effectively in the hands of the Kachin Independence Organization, which is said to earn around 8.5 million yuan (more than US $1 million) annually from the Chinese-run casinos. Prostitution, drugs and alcohol probably net the town even more money. The first of the casinos was built four years ago under a KIO development program originally intended to provide local people, traditionally reliant on the opium trade, with an alternative source of income. The high-minded plan went awry, however-the casinos employ mostly Chinese staff, and the drugs problem is only getting worse…”

    Sorry if this post creates problems – like I said, delete if necessary – I believe strongly in freedom of information, and restrictions of the media do nothing to help the suffering of the people of Burma… at least we can all join in prayer for them…

  5. @wonton – you did it again – you always make me laugh with your so apt analogies… :p

  6. @wonton

    Your analogies, despite being scatological, often has powerful imageries. And funny too…. :-)


    A Japanese man shot and killed in Myanmar (Burma) on Thursday was identified as Kenji Nagai, a journalist working for Tokyo-based video production company APF News Inc., according to Foreign Ministry officials.

    Nagai, 50, was shot through his right chest during a military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations around the Sule Pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar’s largest city, the officials said.

    He likely died instantly, they added.

    Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday said he “wants to offer a message of sympathy.”

    “Just as the United Nations, ASEAN and key countries are concerned, Japan is fully concerned (of the situation in Myanmar),” Fukuda told reporters at his office.

    After Nagai’s death was confirmed, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said the Japanese government will lodge a strong protest to Myanmar and demand clarification of the details of his death.

    Fukuda said the Japanese government will see how things unfold in Myanmar before deciding on whether or not to impose sanctions.

    “Japan’s aid (to Myanmar) consists mainly of humanitarian assistance, and sanctions should not be imposed hastily,” he said.

    In a telephone conversation with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao earlier in the day, Fukuda explained that Japan wants military junta in Myanmar to make sincere efforts in handling the situation.

    Wen responded, “The international community must provide constructive assistance, and China is willing to play its part,” according to sources.

    Nagai’s parents, Hideo and Michiko, who live in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, were informed of their son’s death by the Foreign Ministry on Thursday night.

    “I wasn’t able to sleep at all last night, thinking a number of things about my son,” Nagai’s mother, Michiko, 75, told reporters Friday morning in front of their house. “I didn’t even shed a single tear.”

    Toru Yamaji, head of APF, met Nagai’s parents and other relatives in Imabari on Friday morning.

    Although Nagai’s family wanted to travel to Myanmar to claim his body, Yamaji said he would go instead, citing security reasons. The family agreed.

    Hideo, 82, is ailing and cannot walk without a cane. Michiko suffers from aches in her legs.

    An executive of APF went to the Myanmar Embassy in Tokyo on Friday morning to apply for a visa for Yamaji to enter the country.

    But the embassy refused the application, saying it stopped issuing visas on Friday.

    Yamaji plans to go to Thailand as early as Saturday to enter Myanmar.

    Nagai, who was visiting Bangkok for a different assignment, entered Myanmar on Tuesday, volunteering to cover the country’s pro-democracy movements.

    It was his first visit to Myanmar, and he entered the country with a tourist visa, according to Myanmar’s state-run television.

    Nagai called APF past noon on Thursday and told Yamaji that he planned to cover the demonstrations in Yangon.

    Nagai was experienced in covering war-stricken areas, such as Israel, Iraq and Jordan.

    Originally a freelance journalist, Nagai began working for APF under contract around 1997.

    APF, or Asia Press Front, was established in 1992 and has been producing programs mainly in war-torn areas, such as Iraq, Sri Lanka and Somalia.

    Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry told the Japanese Embassy in Yangon at 4:45 p.m. Thursday (7:15 p.m. Japan time) that a man who was carrying a Japanese passport was killed, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

    Around 6 p.m., embassy officials headed to the hospital where the body had been taken. They confirmed that the dead man was Nagai after sending pictures to his family in Japan.

    The Foreign Ministry on Thursday raised the threat level in the four-stage system to “Level 3” for Myanmar, advising Japanese to postpone any plans to visit the country.(IHT/Asahi: September 29,2007)

  8. @AussiePB

    Wow, thanks for the very interesting bit of info. The last part was really new to me. My father visited the border a few years ago but he might be at a different town. He thought is was a litttle rustic and there were a lot of people trading jade pieces and stuff like that.

  9. what is happening in myamar or burma… its a classic military repression done by generals who keep starving and killiknghis own people for their own economic interest… in YouTube u can find the movie of the wedding of the main general daughter carrying over 20 milion USD value diamonds necklace….

    China, Russia, India, (the sneaky and greedy) singapore , as well Thailand, as seating in business… chair to chairs with the bloody generals.. making money with them… oil, wood, mines from rubins to copper and tin… therefore oppose any sanction or refuse to do any pressure to their business partners (the bloody genarals), to stop the killing of innocent monks and starving civilians…. as money count more then human lifes…

    ur knowledge concern the issue show.. how democracy… and free information is manipolated..

    anyway… anyone who want to bypass GFW of china.. easily download the browser Operator.exe.. sear the interned downoad it…

    then u can read any webpage.. as well post with a proxy IP… :-)


  10. @Jie – why do make inflammatory comments by calling Singapore ‘sneaky and greedy’? Did we do something to you personally?

  11. I was wondering about how much Chinese citizens know about Burma and your blog entry gives me an idea. I have CNN and BBC access in Shanghai and there has been a lot of news about the troubles in Burma lately. I did read one Chinese reporter’s report from Burma but his report was quite naive or censored. It seems to me that China’s citizens are treated like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed s***. even on matters close to their borders.

  12. Hi @fujianren – thanks kindly… I’ve actually seen this article. I think I’ve made it clear in my posts that the Singapore government (along with other countries), have some real tough decisions to make. In this post, I am not defending the SGP govt’s position, nor am I criticising them. I would however like to point out some major deficiencies in this article.

    Firstly, it is well know that Eric Ellis from the Sydney Morning Herald has been a very vocal ‘Singapore critic’ in the past on many issues… I don’t want to say he’s a ‘Singapore-hater’ as this may be a little harsh.

    Secondly, the links between Temasek Holdings and the Lee family in Singapore is real, however for Mr Ellis to interpret this as ‘control’ by the Lee family is a huge jump… there has been much press (good and bad) on the involvement over recent months, and to make such a short and poignant statement is rather short-sighted (without bringing to the fore all the facts that go into the Lee-Temasek relationship)… there are too many issues to try and explain the real position in this post (maybe Jian Shuo needs a new topic just for this). It is important to note that as a direct result of investment of Temaskek Holdings, Singapore people have a much better lifestyle today, with a very strong economy, and SGP is no longer considered a ‘3rd-world’ country. My ‘opinion’ is that Singapore’s position on Myanmar is not all about Temasek getting richer – actually, such a statement is just downright misinformed.

    Thirdly, per my previous post, Singapore is a very large investor in Myanmar (2nd largest), and as I suggested history has shown that outright sanctions would cause more hurt on the poorer people in the country, and would not necessarily assist in dissuading the miltary junta from oppressing the people or the violence against the innocent.

    Finally, the doctors in Singapore who have been treating Than Shwe, have made it clear that under the hypocratic oath, they could not and would not deny treatment to any human being no matter who or where they come from…

    I question what Eric Ellis is writing, as I cannot see anywhere in the article what his recommendations or suggestions are to the Singapore government… does he wish them to impose sanctions?? (like I said in previous posts, it would need to be done against certain investments and individuals); Is it to incite military action??; Does he wish for Singapore to invade Myanmar? Does he wish for the hospitals and doctors to deny treatment to a 74-yo man suffering from intestinal cancer?? I cannot see how this would help the people in Myanmar – is it not just creating more inhumanity???

    Maybe I missed something in the article – can you see any positive from it that will help the people of Myanmar? Look forward to any incites that you can give me surrounding Mr Ellis’ article…

    Furthermore, per my question to @Jie – why call ‘Singapore’ sneaky and greedy? To do so makes inferences about the people of the country and not just the government… a country is not just the people in power, rather the people who live and work (and extended families) and are proud of their country… to make a remark such as this about their country is insulting to the Singaporean people…

    Take care… oh – and as @wonton always rightly says – don’t always believe everything you read – especially from people with personal bias such as Eric Ellis from the Sydney Morning Herald…

  13. @AussiePB, before commenting about your comment, I just want to tell you how happy I am when I saw you and wonton now are friends, and be so nice to each other. How beautiful it is!

  14. @Jian Shuo, Yeah, yeah, we’re practically eating off each other’s plates.

    @AussiePB, A good and fair post. can’t find much to argue with… but I know some Singaporeans are pretty pompous so giving them a few wacks might be fun. heh heh… the devil in me talking.

  15. @wonton, there you go again… whacking pple! *piak!* Anyway, I can always substitute that sentence of yours with “Chinese”, “Australians”, “Americans”, “Japanese”, etc etc etc. But I know, you just want to have some fun right?? *:b

    @AussiePB, I think you meant “Hippocratic Oath”, or did you really mean “hypocratic oath”???

    Also, did you mean “insights” or “incites”?

    Not usually pompous,

    Ling *;)

  16. @Ling… hehe – yeh – I didn’t know that you were the spelling police!! I was half asleep when I was writing… :p

  17. What happened or is happening in Burma is nothing but a tragedy .Thousands of monks and nuns and students were or are bleeding on the streets and in the prisons of its capital , while the outworld was or is watching it without any mercy for thier own interests . In china, almost none of Chinese people know it . Billions of thanks to the Google for helping blocking the junk information into China to pollute Chinese’s mind .

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