Archive for April, 2013

You might have read DOs and DON’Ts in Myanmar somewhere on Internet. But those are for the convinience of tourists and only very few visitors care for what locals would think for their acts during their stay in Myanmar.

This video is just to let you know what you should not do in Myanmar not to make locals feel that you are not paying respect to their culture.

DISCLAIMER : These are my own thoughts based on my experience as an average Myanmar citizen who come from a mixed Bamar family. The habits and perceptions of Myanmar people may vary from time to time and people from different states and divisions may have different cultural habit and society values.

Since it was unblocked in 2011, Facebook in Burma has become a platform for sectarian hate speech and propaganda

Since June 2012, when violence broke out between Rohingya and Buddhists in RakhineState, Facebook has become a platform where propagandists mislead social network users in Burma on what seems like a daily basis. There is increasing concern about the number of Burmese Internet users misusing their newfound access to social media. In reality, social networking is not that new to Burmese Internet users, but using it for online propaganda is.

Despite low penetration and strict control of the Internet, active debate on all major religions on Burmese forums did exist for a number of years prior to 2012, with little evidence of animosities spilling into the offline world. Although the country was closed in many ways, people seemed to be more open-minded. Burmese Internet users were allowed access to Facebook in September 2011. However, it is not the only root cause of hate speech and online propaganda since Burmese Facebook users seemed calm until the Rohingya issue emerged in mid-2012.

This falsified image appeared on a Burmese Facebook page alleging killings by Burmese monks. It actually shows Tibetan monks helping out after the 2010 earthquake in China. Pic: Facebook.Since then, fabricated news and falsified images have come from several Facebook accounts with unknown identities. Buddhists portray Muslims as extremists and terrorists while Muslims say Buddhists as racists. Hoaxes are everywhere. Monks from Tibet helping out after a disaster became Buddhist monks killing Rohingya. Infants from orphanages were falsely portrayed as Burmese children displaced by Rohingya rioters.

The situation intensified again recently after the Meikhtila riots. Extremist Facebook pages and accounts with thousands of followers have stoked the tensions with images and stories that cannot be verified. Images from alleged crime scenes – the dead body of a Rakhine girl reportedly raped and killed by three Muslims in June, the burnt body of a Buddhist monk allegedly killed by Muslims in Meikhtila and a video of Buddhist monk threatening to kill Muslims – are all questionable. The “unknown” sources recorded those and uploaded to Facebook, where they spread like wildfire. More interesting is that these are not images and videos likely to be captured by average members of the public, and security forces were included in some videos.

Read more on AsianCorrespondent.

SIM cards will be sold at a dramatically reduced price of 1,500 kyats (US$2US) in Burma, making mobile phones affordable for the general population for the very first time

After much anticipation, state-owned television announced on April 3 that new SIM cards for CDMA and WCDMA networks will be sold for 1,500 kyats (US$2) starting from April 24, 2013. Details on SIM cards for GSM networks will be announced next month, Myanma Post and Telecommunications (MPT) said.

This represents a dramatic change for Burma (which is officially known as Myanmar). Five years ago it cost US$2,000 to buy a postpaid SIM card. Since the early days of country’s transition towards democracy, the cost of using mobile phones has been a controversial topic. Earlier this year in January, the minister of MPT was forced to resign following an alleged disagreement on whether to reduce the existing SIM card price of 100,000 kyats (US$125). Several staff from MPT and private companies involved were investigated for corruption.

350,000 SIM cards will be divided among states and divisions on a monthly basis. In order to prevent the common practice of transferring SIM card ownership, the cards will will be disabled if they are not used in the first 15 days after purchase.Certain rules apply to the new SIM cards, which come with 300 kyats (about US$0.40) talk time value. A 5,000 kyats (about US$6) top-up card must be bought within the first 15 daysand at least 2,500 kyats (about US$3) must be spent on outgoing calls every month after that. Incoming calls will be free of charge.

Certain rules apply to the new SIM cards, which come with 300 kyats (about US$0.40) talk time value. A 5,000 kyats (about US$6) top-up card must be bought within the first 15 daysand at least 2,500 kyats (about US$3) must be spent on outgoing calls every month after that. Incoming calls will be free of charge.

There are additional problems for public since many smartphones do not provide facilities for CDMA networks. Despite fulfilling their demands for low-cost SIM cards, cheaper and substandard China-made handsets ready for CDMA networks will apparently be the only choice for new SIM card users.

Read more on AsianCorrespondent

There is no professional bloggin in Myanmar at all. Everybody blogs just for fun and the culture of Myanmar blogsphere is pretty different from that of others.

When I started blogging around 2006/7 in Burmese, I was very eager to decorate my blog and so as everyone else. Even those who were not IT-savvy attempted to learn how to add Yahoo pipe as blogroll, how to export form wordpress.com to wordpress.org, how to use tens of thousands of widgets etc. The very unique culture was on Cbox. When we visited each other’s blog, we left a short message that we visited them. It was almost a must-do. And we had our own sub-groups mostly divided by the platform which I don’t know how it happened. That means if you were a blogger on blogspot platform, most of your blog friends were blogspot users, too. Likewise, if you were on wordpress, your connections came mostly from wordpress users.

That was fun but we were isolated as we blogged only in Burmese even though many of us were residing in other countries. Now that, it became a Facebook era, not many people are that into blogging anymore. I stopped bloggin in Burmese since quite a while ago. When I started to blog in English, I became to realize that different countries have different bloggin culture. Singapore, for instance, have many professional bloggers. Some even blog for living. Most of those famous bloggers specialize in one category like -beauty & fashion, food, travel and so on. Still, in most situations, bloggers in any country are connected with bloggers in their respective country only.

Why can’t we be a bit more connected? I mean, we can mingle with different blogging cultures and create an even more fun and flavourful community. No matter what we are blogging about, we could share our perspectives by visiting each other’s blog. That could even turn out to be a community where we can follow informal (yet wonderful) ASEAN updates. Or that could be where we smartly debate about our regional issues? Who knows?

I like to understand more on how different countries operate their blogging culture. Is blogging still active in every ASEAN country? What common practices do ASEAN bloggers share? How can cultural aspects of each country be voiced out via blogging and how can such information be passed through bloggers themselves. Perhaps, ASEAN blogfest 2013 might be able to hint those questions.

My Myanmar friends from U.S are rarely active on Facebook. So, I browsed on of my BFFs wall few minutes ago and it notified me that I can now send real gift via Facebook to those in U.S!! You can even choose occasion, gift cards, write your own message and pay for it. There are many inexpensive items. And privacy? It seems safe since only when the recepient provided their address, it will be sent!

Real Gift on Facebook

Choose your gift

Add a virtual gift card and sweet words.

Add a virtual gift card and sweet words.

Pay and done!

Pay and done!

You might say “Uh.. okay”, but for me, I suppose it could bring endless possibilities. Let’s think out loud what we can do with it (assuming this feature will be expanded to other countries from time to time.)

Warmth from virtual world
Lately, I do not really say Happy Birthday on Facebook to those who are not close friends of mine. Not only because I think it’s useless but also I like to make my friends believe that I do feel like wishing in person by doing so only to certain people in my friend list. But I sometimes feel like I could send something physical to them – be it a little card or something just to make them realize I do remember their birthdays from bottom of my heart. But I don’t think someone would bother to actully buy something even via online shopping and prepare to send it to them just because it takes time and boring. But then again, now that Facebook comes out with such thing, I would definitely buy small things on my friend birthday. I need to click only about 5 times and viola, your gift will be sent to their doors! With only about 10 bucks, you can pass your love virtually that will be transformed into something tangible to your loved ones. I mean, what a cool way!

Romance, Suprise and Fun
Some people take Facebook too seriously. In Myanmar, it’s almost a ground for propagandists. (Okay, I’ll leave this out in such a fun post.) But for me, Facebook basically should be a fun place to be connected with your loved ones. Let’s say you have crash on someone. *wink* He/she and you are friends on Facebook but you like to take a step forward. Then, this option will be perfect! If you want to make him/her suprised more, you can do so from another Facebook account that does not reveal your real identity. (But that would only work if your crush is eager to take risk of accepting a gift from an anonymous. For me, I would accept since the gifts are legal ones and you can’t prepare your own to send me something nasty) It could be a new way of starting a relationship – a hybrid version of online and offline.

Frenemies Vanished
Occasionally, we lose our friends via heated discussions on Facebook. After some time, you might want to get togther with them again but not sure where to start. Why don’t we start it again by sending a little warm gift via Facebook? I mean, since Facebook is the one who involved in your frenemy story, shouldn’t it be the same thing to engage you guys again? If he/she doesn’t bother even after receiving gift with nice message to be friended again, just don’t bother! lol

Corporate Gratitude?
You went to a business related dinner and want to say “Thank you” to whoever had invited you. Instead of just posting “Thanks for tonight!!!” on their wall, why can’t we send them a nice small gift with “thank you” message. They would definitely recognize you among those who came to dinner!

Note : When I read it back, it sounds a lot like I'm advertising for Facebook. Hell no, I'm just having fun with it as I'm happy to be on Facebook with my loved ones. I even dreamt to watch movies directly from Facebook instead of opening new tab in browser. ;)