Posts Tagged ‘Myanmar’

Generally, Burmese with functioning brains are very happy, today. Or are they really?

Many of us had wanted to (or still want to) witness the moment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi being the president of Burma. But it didn’t happen. Rumours say military requested things she couldn’t agree to postpone the infamous section 59 (F) of constitution. And she is believed to skip the chance to be president favouring country’s future with least possible involvement of military in cabinet and parliament.

Look at this photo.

Okay-Meme-Gif-05

Found it here. Couldn’t find out who took it. Please message me if the owner like me to remove this.

The caption here says “The president walked her out, the MP waved to, the police saluted to and the public bowed down to, who is this?” Isn’t it exasperating that someone whom the majority of citizen trust and respect couldn’t manage the country “officially”?

And look at this.

Looking at her smiles cherishing the moment of truth and persistence made my heart cringe.

While I am genuinely happy for the newly elected president (who is educated and loyal. Plus, the first lady is also an MP, how awesome this is!), in some corners of my heart, I am still hoping that the lady would be the president of Burma one day – maybe after 1st April or this year or maybe 2 years later if she stays healthy which I believe she will.

And how I wish my late grandparents who loved her like their own daughter could witness this  moment, too.

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My late grandma and young DASSK in Myeik

And call me mean, I wish everyone (you know who I am referring to) who limits the happiness of average Burmese people may suffer from limited-happiness syndrome (i.e. whenever they feel happy about something, they will be held back by something so that their happiness shall never reach to the max.)

 

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I know nuts about photography.

But below shots make me satisfied for possessing a DSLR.  Not because those are great but because they look okay to be my Facebook/Twitter Cover without any hassle of linking/captioning for attribution. I was a big fan of Creative Commons but I have frequently encountered situations where you can’t conveniently give credit by linking back , on Instagram for instance. Long story short, I become a fan of CC0 aka public domain photos and guess what, all these photos in this post are released under public domain. I posted some of them on Pixabay – a Flickr for public domain addicts and many on Open Myanmar Photo Project (Self reminder : I have to write a post about it.)

Fisherman at Inle Lake

Fisherman at Inle Lake, 2013

This was taken last December. Not edited. I have no idea how and when I clicked the camera but I think it looks nice. Of course, not on photographers’ standard but if you put that on the scale of what-on-earth-is-photography, I guess, this looks fabulous. Whatever.

international women day burma

Sunflower fileds in Aung Pan, Shan State. 2013

Thank to ribbet.com, I could tweak this photo into a more retro-ish one while I have no clue how to do that in Photoshop. I took this while I was on car during a road-trip from Inle to Taunggyi or around there. I did not know what the girl was doing but when I was browsing all the photos I had taken during that trip, this particular one caught my attention. I feel like it is screaming “HOPE”, no?

Fisherman at Inle Lake sunset

Another Fisherman at Inle Lake during sunset. 2013

This is something special (not edited). Pixabay editors thought it was great. And nearly 700 people downloaded it. Believe me, it is way more fun to see many people across Internet is happily using your photo than putting your name as watermark and upload it to Facebook. 😉

Cathedral Church

Cathedral Church, Yangon. 2012

I had never taken a pic by heavily shifting my body position before that. I didn’t know I should do that to capture something in a different aspect, too. But the glamour of this church unconsciously hit me and I got that. Nothing that fantastic. But, I like it a lot. This is also not retouched.

Bagan Museum

Bagan Museum, 2011

It is not a great-looking photo. The building is not even ancient, just intimating other buildings with Bagan style. But I like the crispiness of the cloudy blue sky. I think I did not edit this either.

That’s all for now. Remember, all of these photos are released in public domain so you can use it anywhere, with or without modification, be it for commercial purpose or personal use and without attribution to me. Again, let me repeat this though it might sound irritating, I made it public domain not because my shots were great but just because I like to fulfill people’s needs in case there is someone out there who need to use a not so ugly picture of Myanmar without giving the credit back. I would just secretly wish they would not use these pics for hateful/harmful purposes.

international women day burma

It’s already March 9 in Singapore. However, it is still International Woman Day in Myanmar. I am feeling daunting a whole day for the tragedy of Malaysia Airline and still hoping to witness some miracle for all people on board so I forgot to write something for International Women Day. Long story short, let me portray how majority of women in Myanmar are self-censored. 

If there was only one challenge to empower women in Myanmar, that would be their self-censorship instead of dominant men. Since we started to know how to interact with adults, we have been taught to give cream of the top to men. My mom would always keep the best part of chicken for my dad. If we were on menses, we wouldn’t be able to perform certain actions such as cleaning altar or taking Ngapi out from the pot. Another higher level of discrimination is rooted in an intangible quality called Hpon.

 Also, there is the concept of hpon (ဘုန်း; from Sanskrit bhaga), which translates to “power”. It is used as an explanation for the varying degrees of ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender differences between people in a society.[6]Hpon refers to the cumulative result of past deeds, an idea that power or social position comes from merit earned in previous lives.[6] This idea is used to justify the prevalent view that women are less equal than men, who are considered to have more hpon.

– Wikipedia, Culture of Burma

Basically, men has more Hpon power than women. Thus, they can’t touch inner wears of women as well as any kind of women clothes meant for lower body including longyi (traditional sarong), skirt, trousers, lingeries and you name it. (Yes, how do they take those off when they were in bed with their ladies!?!) To make it more sensible (be ware of sarcasm from now on), men couldn’t walk through if there are those women’s clothes hanging above them because it would make their Hpon level lower. international women day myanmarOn top of that, at many famous pagodas or Buddha stupas, women are not allowed to enter a “special area” that is closer to the Pagoda or Stupa. Only men could go and sit at such area even thought people would pray similar things and chant similar Dhamma. Upper level at Shwedagon pagoda and front areas at Mahar Myat Mu Ni Stupa and Inle Phaung Daw Oo pagoda are all meant only for men. Oh and we can’t offer gold leaf to certain pagodas in person – for e.g. Kyite Htee Yoe (Golden Rock) Pagoda. We have to pass it to someone who has men organs to offer it on behalf of us. But then, it is applicable only at certain pagodas especially at famous ones. Women can pour water above smaller Buddha statues in famous Pagoda compound. (Now, you get the point – how awesome logic of men in our country is!) Plus, polygamy is legal for Buddhist men which means it is criminal offence if a wife commits adultery while it is fine for a husband to sleep with someone else.

When you were raped, people would spare no time blaming on you how slutty you had been instead of wondering who the horrible culprit was. During Thingyan (water festival in April), it is absolutely fine for a man to vomit on pavement during hangover while it is considered disgraceful if a girl drinks. No man would ask permission to smoke around non-smoking people and it is stupid for a woman to smoke. Guys could run half-naked in public and they would call girls who wear mini-skirts slutty.

Growing up in such society, all girls, ladies and women are so used to the rituals of the society. They are always unconsciously prioritizing men just like healthy human beings effortlessly breath in oxygen. They believe that they are meant to live so. They believe that their daughters should follow the same way since their mothers followed so. They believe that men carried better karma than women thus they are always nobler than women.

The more disheartening thing is that when a man argues groundlessly or being narrow-minded, they criticize that man for “acting like a woman” မိန်းမလိုမိန်းမရ /mein: malou mein: maja/. When a man uses dirty tricks, women denounced him for “behaving like a woman”. When a man is cowardly, they suggest him to “wear a hta mane (Myanmar traditional sarong for women)”. I think nothing is sadder than to see the women who think women are creatures who debate groundlessly, who always play dirty tricks and who are cowardly.

When you urge some normal women to do something that society does not usually allow women to do, they would response with shocking reaction. The slogan “Women can’t do that!” or “This is a woman thing” has been nailed in their brains. When their husbands betrayed, they would think of best way to attract them back. Only few of them would take legal actions or further steps towards divorce because when you are divorced, all woman and men would blame on you. Married women also assume that they are the ones who have to do all household chores despite earning income together. Sisters always accept that doing the dish for their brothers is their duties from birth.

I have no clue how we could we get rid of women refraining from obtaining what they actually want. At the very least, I could teach my future daughters how to fight for their rights and more importantly, my future sons how to deal with women fairly.

 

**If you act inhumane towards LGBTQs, I warn you not to go ahead**

A gay couple recently celebrated their 10 years of love at a hotel in Myanmar. And everyone loses their mind on Facebook.

LGBTs Rights in Myanmar

After flipping through many nasty comments towards that couple who are also working for organisations fighting for LGBTs’ rights in Myanmar, I tend to realize a few points and I feel like jotting down.

Many Myanmar can’t differentiate between Gays and Transgenders

Every thing is all the same for them. Some people complain while both of the couple wore traditional groom suites instead of one came up as the bride. Some pointed out that gays in American movies do not act like women and others criticized a gay should only be acting as Khin San Win, a famous transgender make-up artist.

Confusing, I know. But most of them do not have slightest clue on LGBTs which is sad.

They believe as if Buddha taught that gays in this life have raped others in past lives

I have been trying to find reputable English source that shares the exact sentiment. I found none so far.

That is copy-catting western culture, they say.

I believe we cannot trace back who was first ever LGBTQ in this world. I am pretty sure there are mentioning about gays in Pali Canons. I wonder how did they form such opinion claiming acting as LGBTQ is westernization.

It is against law.

The infamous Section (377) in Myanmar restricts people from having “abnormal” sex. It can be punished up to 10 years of jail sentence or life imprisonment. The catch is that it is punishable only when there is proof that they did exactly what mentioned in the section which means polices can’t grab a random gay couple and jail them just because they live together. I guess many people forget this part. Plus, it restricts not only gays but also straight people from performing “abnormal” sex, too. Blame the British, seriously.

The rest of the accusations share more or less the same points with homophobes in other countries such as “It is unnatural!”, “Gays are disgusting!” or “It is disgrace!”. Here’s a bonus point.

It is where conservative people following either of three more dominant religions in Myanmar – Buddhists, Muslims and Christians agree!

I was running away from all kinds of writing for infinity reasons. But something that I feel like worth-recording happened – neither about politics nor Miss Universe Saga. It is just that we finally have a reality TV Show in Myanmar. *Woo Hoo*

A few months back, I saw Thandar Hlaing, Myanmar version of Tyra Banks, was working on a project called Myanmar Model Academy. I guessed it would be a local version of Asia’s/America’s Next Top Model.  Now that its premiere was aired on Channel 7 (and another channel I can’t recall), I just question myself – “Did we have any other reality TV show in Myanmar before that?” Hell, no, never!

What did we have?

Myanmar Army on TV

Image : Peerapat Wimolrungkarat/Wikimedia

We had very compelling news programs that documented where our former Senior General went with his very adorable grandsons that none of us watched unless it had got something to do with the lady or new currency note or something shocking. We also had some quiz shows where most important questions were “How many dams had our awesome military government built” or “When that beautiful bridge built by our awesome government was started to operate?”. And we had have been having singing competition where you could win only if you sing old Burmese songs no matter how good your voice or talent is.

But thank to Myawaddy and MRTV, I can now impress my Chinese friends with my extreme knowledge on Journey to the West, Princess Pearl, Justice Bao etc. And my affection on Japanese language must have based on Fly to Dream, Summer Story, Autumn Story and many other addictive J-dramas. 

As superficial changes, known as “reforms” elsewhere,  become to be rooted in Myanmar, we now have Burmese version of Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader, Minute to Win It, a mixture of The Voice and American Idol and that sort of thing. But NO reality show has been aired.

Thandar Hlaing Myanmar Model Academy

Image : Thanda Hlaing’s Facebook

A little Background of Thanda Hlaing (Christie Mackenzie) here. She was one of pioneer Model girls in Myanmar where her glorious days dated back till probably 1997/8. Besides possessing a very unique facial figure outshined from other average models, she is smart and well-educated. I reckon 99% of girls (now young ladies) of our generation would agree that she is most stylish Myanmar woman to date. She left Myanmar like around 2000 (I think) and resides in Australia with her husband and two kids. Enough about her. She probably initiated this program or program initiators might have invited her to be involved heavily. So we got to see the first every reality show in Myanmar!

My mom told me she enjoys the show a lot. Sometimes, I regret I underestimated her ability to absorb hot and trendy stuffs. Unfortunately for Ma Thandar Hlaing (not wrong spelling, she spells it as “Thanda”, we pronounce it as “Thandar”, very similar meaning), not everyone shares the same feeling with my mom. Many girls are frustrated that Zin Aung, one of the judges on the show, allegedly offended contestants which they said is totally opposite to Myanmar culture. (I know right!) They also strongly think that saying “Pack your bags and go home” in Burmese is highly offending.  Some said this is just a copy cat version of ANTM. It seems like reality shows are a bit too early for them. While I was reading their outrageous comments on Thanda Hlaing’s  Facebook page, I just felt like dragging Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsey to Myanmar and perhaps I might be assassinated for ruining Myanmar culture. Haiz. (Disclaimer: I have NEVER watched what Zin Aung said on the show yet so I am not approving him here. A sprinkle of reality check for Reality show judge here, though. )

They do not have official website, Facebook page or Youtube Channel. The only clips I got to watch is poor quality videos on youtube uploaded by someone who doesn’t seem to have affection on judging part in any show. (He uploaded a number of clips taken from Myanmar channels but it never includes what judges said.) Thus, I cannot weigh in on that. Here is my comment which I believe Ma Thandar Hlaing appreciated it by clicking “like”.

Myanmar Model Academy Reality TV Show

Image : Screenshot of a Myanmar Model Academy Youtube clip

Many countries copied format of ANTM since it started way too early than the rest. I haven’t watched Zin Aung part on Youtube so can’t weigh in on that. I would just love to see a sprinkle of Myanmar adorable culture or artistic aspect in the show (rather than modeling with htaing ma thane or apparent things like that) which would be challenging to incorporate.

Apart from that, I think whoever responsible to film the show and edit the clips sucks. You would know what I mean if you happen to click here to watch what the show is like. Oh well, again, this is the FIRST ever reality show in Myanmar. So, I have to rant less.

 

I have written about Pho Kyar Natural Elephant Camp before in words only. And I was wondering if there might be people who would love to see “Elephants in Action”. When I googled (or searched on youtube), there are almost no footage of  lovely little dumbos at Pho Kyar. As I have ready clips that I recorded there last year, I decided to make a vlog out of it.

The elephants in the video were not in use for logging as they were still too young to work. Their ages range from 8 to 16 years old. They were so playful (you can see it during their bathing time) and pretty clever. During elephant football match, the goalkeeper elephant did not catch the ball at all if it thought it was not going to score, only took action when kicker elephant aimed at the target correctly. How cute!

 

I’ve once written about it here. And in above clip, you might be able to visualize it more. 🙂

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.