Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Myanmar August 2012

Burma/Myanmar Smiles Again

I came back to Burma/Myanmar six months after my last visit in February. This time, I was to spend two weeks to observe the reforms. I ended up participating in them. Aung San Suu Kyi has joined the parliament. Trouble is brewing in the Rakhine state. People carry on with their lives even though reform is yet to benefit them.Credit cards are still not used, nor is there an ATM that can give foreign money. But there is always hope. How often does an academic get a front seat to watch a country in transition?

Street View in front of the Aung San Market

U Tin Oo, patron of National League for Democracy. He spoke passionately about amending the constitution to strip the military of its special privileges
Shan restaurant near Aung San market

a rainy afternoon. It rained every day like this

monks have a life too

Yangon train station


what is so funny?

pancakes anyone?

on the way to Yele pagoda

near Yele pagoda

they sold postcards to me

Art on peace, conflict and democracy - peacock is the sign of the National league for Democracy

Loknat (god of peace and art) sitting on bullets
basic transport for the average person

speaking to the Foundation Course on Peace, Democracy and Development organised by the Myanmar Development Resource Institute, a think-tank set up by senior advisers to President Thein Sein

trainees include members of all political parties. to my right is my host Mr Ko Ko Hlaing, the Chief Political Adviser to President Thein Sein. Mr Hlaing heads the Myanmar Centre for Strategic and International Studies, to which he has invited me as a Visiting Professor and Senior Research Fellow

You always find colour and beauty in Burma

looking for someone or something?

this was the first public lecture organised by the MJA after it held its first nation-wide elections since the 1950s. I not only had to observe but comment on the changes happening before my eyes

Lecturing at the House of Media course specially organised for my visit by Zarganar, the country's most famous comedian who was detained by the military for 11 years

for two days, I lectured on democracy, peace, development, human rights, advocacy, and ASEAN

many former political prisoners (including my interpreter standing next to me), women and youth attended the lectures. I have rarely met more political prisoners under one roof or people more eager to learn

everyone is happy as I get a momento of my two days of hard labor from Zarganar at the end of the program.


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