What Our Readers Say

By The Irrawaddy 26 May 2012

Over 5,000 Workers Still on Strike in Rangoon

What? Kyat 9,000 per month! Kyat 350 per day! Unbelievable!

Are these employers joking? If not, they are seriously exploiting our workers and our nation. How come a worker’s salary is less than 10 percent of the price of a product (let say a shirt or a pair of pants).

If government really wants to improve the life of our citizens, they should implement or reinforce labour laws. In addition, the law should state the minimum wage rate and allowance/ benefit to protect laborers. This minimum wage rate should be reassessed from time to time by putting into account inflation, the economic situation and other aspects. The wage rate should cover the cost of basic needs.

On the other hand, since the government has to give stable ground to attract entrepreneurs to do business in the country, it is a must to educate both employers and workforces to follow the well-established law.

—Ma Lay

Indonesia ‘Most Tolerant Country in the World’: Religious Minister

Sure, that is why they have Sharia law in certain areas and has the religious police checking on women. Tolerant countries allow their citizens to change religion.

—Marcus Collins

Five Detained in Prome as Power Protests Spread

People have the right to practice their democratic rights. Over sixty years of Burmese independence has passed; why can’t the country provide electricity? We have to think deeply. There should make a forum to discuss the matter seriously.

If we have surplus energy we can export; if we do not have sufficient energy we should not export electricity. Why not make power generation to produce electricity with CNG power plants instead of selling it to other countries? First priority is to produce electricity with CNG for domestic use, then if we have surplus then we can export it to other countries. Now, exporting to other countries is the first priority, which is wrong if you compare it with supply and demand.

—Oo Maung Gyi

Rohingya Appeal to Suu Kyi

If a Rohingya family resides in Burma generation after generation, regardless of religion or race, they should get the same rights as any other citizen of Burma. Instead of being scattered all over the world as a stateless person, they have every right to claim citizenship in Burma as the place of their birth. It is a sad thing that we as human beings overlook their suffering and plight. If Rohingyas can contribute towards the good of the country they should be welcome with open arms. After all, our lives on this earth are just transitory, we should do something good for humanity and it should not be based on religion or race.

—Sai Suriya

Rohingya Appeal to Suu Kyi

They clearly don’t look Southeast Asian, and they don’t belong in Myanmar. They just crossed the border and stayed in Myanmar because it was a British colony. I don’t think they deserve any rights here; they can just go back to Bangladesh or India where they belong. I hear many bad stuff about how they marry Burmese/Buddhists and try really hard to spread Islam.

If you ask Myanmar people to vote on this, the majority won’t let them stay in Myanmar, and according to our voting system, only ethnic groups of Myanmar should vote: no Indian, Arab or Bengali-born people should be allowed.

Also, ASEAN doesn’t want them in Southeast Asia, because they don’t look like us. They don’t belong in Myanmar. Period.

—Naing Naing

Rohingya Appeal to Suu Kyi

We seriously need statistics on intermarriages between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar. It has become common knowledge in Myanmar that Muslim men always try to intermarry and convert Buddhist women to Islam. Is it really true? How many Buddhist women have converted to Islam due to intermarriage? Can you give figures? We just can’t say that Muslims in Myanmar have a secret agenda to convert Myanmar into a Muslim country. It is more correct to say that more Muslims, especially in places like Mandalay, have become Buddhists in Myanmar than Buddhists have become Muslims because of the intense Burmanization and marginalization of Muslims since the 1960s.

If you don’t mind my saying so, it is Christians who have always tried to convert Myanmar into a Christian country since British colonial times. If you guys care about it, you could easily check the master’s and doctoral theses written at overseas Christian missionary universities by Christians in Myanmar, you would see that they are always thinking of creating strategies to covert Myanmar people, especially non-Christian ethnic minorities, into Christians.

I don’t say this because I hate Christian missionaries or Christians. It is their right to propagate their religion. But all of these accusations that Muslims, including the Rohingya, in Myanmar are trying to spread their religion of Islam sound to me that Buddhists in Myanmar are barking up the wrong tree.

Whenever news about the Rohingya comes up on the Internet, I always see horrible messages. But they mainly say that the Rohingya will dominate Rakhine State first and Myanmar eventually. We must understand political tricks of Rakhine Buddhists. Rakhine Buddhists hate Bamar Buddhists. But when they talk about the Rohingya, Rakhine Buddhists talk like they are protecting Buddhism. Rakhine Buddhists hate the Rohingya because the Rohingya are a large people. And Rakhine Buddhists hate Bamars because they want back their Arakanese kingdom. So other peoples in Myanmar must understand political objectives of Rakhine Buddhists in dividing between the Rohingya and other Buddhists in Myanmar.


Burma’s Power Blackout Struggle

Burma is a Chinese takeaway kitchen, and Then Sein alone cannot change the fact that Than Shwe and his cronies sold Burma to the Chinese for personal greed and power. That guy Zaw Min is probably part of that gang, bribed by the Chinese. I believe, many top level government officials are still controlled, coerced and corrupted (the three Cs strategy!) by the Chinese.

The last time (2007), when people went out on the streets, it all started with the rise of gasoline prices. Now it’s electricity and this time people know where the electricity and gas from Burma is going and who is profiting. So let there be change!


US Lawmaker Proposes Keeping Burma Sanctions

Congressman Joseph Crowley was right spearheading the effort to strengthen sanctions on Burma’s military leaders through the Block Burmese JADE Act before, but he would be dead wrong to try to ban all imports from Burma again, especially garments. The garment industry in Burma is owned and run by private entrepreneurs who hire hundreds of thousands of women whose families are dependent on the income of their hard work. Because of unconscionable conducts by activists who lobbied for indiscriminately sanctioning all what came from Burma, those numerous women lost their livelihoods and were forced to sell their bodies for living. These kind of sanctions are inhumane.

On the other hand, he was right to say that, “While we have seen many signs of progress in Burma, there is still much more to be done. Too many political prisoners are still in prison, violence continues against ethnic minorities, and not all necessary political reforms have been put in place.”

As the fact of the matter, the military regime has done what they always said they would be doing: they followed their road map to democratization and implemented the plan to retain 25 percent of the parliamentarians for military personnel. As the military government said in advance, the winners of the 1990 elections were not allowed to form a government. An international conference in Tokyo by Burmese expatriates unanimously decided to boycott the 1990 elections and asked the populace to do so a month before the elections because the elected representatives had to merely write a constitution.

If there were changes in Burma now, they were made mostly by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition, and the international governments. When she was released from the house arrest in 1995, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who repeatedly demanded dialogue with the regime, ordered her party members to leave the National Convention. She couldn’t accept the 25 percent quota for military personnel then and she was right.

However, she should be commended for changing her stance for the time-being in order to safeguard the development of the country. At the same time, the US government is also correct to reward the Burmese government for whatever changes they have made toward democratization. We all should be cautiously optimistic about the new political developments in Burma and US Congress would be wise to encourage the reformers instead of punishing them for not fulfilling all their demands fast enough.


Restore Rangoon University: President’s Adviser

U Myint’s advice to President Thein Sein to bring life back to Rangoon University is an excellent idea as long as the restoration is fully discussed by the “Myanmar Academic Community,” “Myanmar Historians,” “Current Leaders of Higher Education” and “Parliamentary Leaders of Today.” Lastly but not least, the “still living Political Leaders.”

Rangoon University brings back a tremendous amount of memories and invokes various emotions. It is therefore critically important that the restoration be totally devoid of any political agenda and to ensure that it will not degenerate into “rehashing of the old conflicts and reopening of old wounds.”

The restoration must be dedicated to the “present generation of Young Myanmars and the future generations.”

As one who has been away from the country for over 40 years, it is my humble suggestion to U Myint and President Thein Sein to bear in mind the above criteria in considering the question of RU restoration. U Myint must be commended for this as we all started our adult life from RU. One must learn from history not to repeat our mistakes, but it is more important not to dwell on the past.

—U Kyi WIN Sein