Compare the lunchtime scenes in a typical Yangon tea shop and a Starbucks in New York. Chances are that there will be newspapers at the former and smartphones and iPads in the latter.
Deep-seated patriarchy and years of military rule have kept Myanmar society from the rest of the world.
Western embassies in Myanmar have outlined a comprehensive package of support aimed at helping to ensure that the election due late this year is inclusive, credible and transparent.
Fishers and farmers have been trying for some time to block the proposed Don Sahong Dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos. They recently made their views known at a public consultation on the project but it’s likely their concerns will be ignored and the dam will be built. “Great Gamble on the Mekong,” a new documentary by filmmaker and journalist Tom Fawthrop explores the probable dire consequences of the dam and the failure it would represent for a once-promising extra-legal agency, the Mekong River Commission.
Mission impossible. That is what the Swiss inventors and pilots Betrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg heard again and again when they first came up with the audacious idea of a solar-powered aircraft. And that such an aircraft could fly around the world? Preposterous.
On March 10, if all goes well, the Solar Impulse 2 single-seater solar-powered aircraft – with a wingspan of a Boeing 747 – will land at Mandalay International Airport, arriving from India on a round-the-world journey record attempt that began in Abu Dhabi early this month.
It was difficult to arrange a meeting with Ma Thu Ta Sen, the manager of Young Generations’ Note, a literary journal based in the Thai border town of Mae Sot. Ma Thu Ta Sen works full-time in a restaurant and spends her evenings teaching Myanmar. We met on a busy street corner during a 30-minute break from her waiting job before she led me to the journal’s office.
Ma Thazin Soe has worked in a garment factory in Yangon's northern Mayangone Township for three years. She rises at dawn to make a bus journey from her home in neighbouring Hlaingtharyar Township, on Yangon’s western outskirts, and returns after dark. Ma Thazin Soe said she is “barely able to make ends meet” on her basic monthly salary of K30,000.
“Laughter and honesty are a great way to strengthen relationships, build dialogue and break down barriers, as I have found this week with my friends from different religions from Burma and Indonesia,” said Benedict Rogers, author and activist with Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Men and women may not always be on the same footing but you would think both sexes would be equal in the face of gigantic floods, typhoons or droughts. Think again.
Nan Paw Gay did not become a migrant worker out of necessity. She chose to work as a nursery school teacher and then as a live-in cleaner in Bangkok after graduating from Mawlamyine University in 1995 because she wanted to understand the experience of millions of Myanmar people who went abroad to seek a livelihood. She was a journalist then, without realising.