Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Min Ko Naing

I never knew that Burmese most prominent student leader, Min Ko
, had relatives in Mudon, Mon State, where I was from and my
parents still live. Min Ko Naing spent 16 years in prison for his leading role
in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Laos Wedding

Last Saturday and Sunday, I had a chance to go to Laos weddings. Some of my students from DDD got married. It was fun at the wedding party.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Do our prejudices know no bounds?

Bangkok Post, January 13, 2005


Whatever the colour of our skin, we all look the same when our bodies decompose. That is what the array of corpses at Wat Yanyao informs us, the living. So why the fuss about our racial or ethnic differences?

No matter how rich or poor we are, the loss of our loved ones is equally overwhelming in our hearts. Since we are all the same, don't all the victims and survivors of the Dec 26 tsunami deserve equal assistance? Sadly, the Thai authorities do not think so, not when it comes to migrant workers from Burma. As we Thais celebrate the massive outpouring of our own generosity for the tsunami victims _ particularly for the foreign tourists, the country has totally ignored the plight of poor migrant workers who, like us, lost family members and their source of income when the killer waves hit the Andaman coast.

Like us, their lives have been shattered. But we do not recognise their deaths and their losses. We do not give them relief aid. Worse, we punish those who survived the disaster by deporting them to a precarious life back in Burma, which refuses to accept its own citizens. What has become of us?

There are more than 120,000 registered manual laborers from Burma in the fisheries, construction, rubber and other industries in Ranong, Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Satun and Trang provinces. The real number of migrant workers could be at least twice that figure.

Thousands of these people are believed to have perished when the tidal waves hit those provinces. According to survivors' accounts, at least 1,000 are missing in Phangnga alone. These survivors believe many of their loved ones are lying unattended at Wat Yanyao among the unidentified. But they are too scared to go and check and collect the bodies for fear of being arrested and deported.

The fear is well-grounded.

Thanks to the media and nationalist history, the general Thai public harbor a deep prejudice against the Burmese as a ruthless and untrustworthy people who destroyed our once glorious capital and now steal our jobs, rob their employers and bring us contagious diseases. Right after the tsunami, an actor who served as a rescue volunteer told the media he suspected a group of looters he saw were migrant Burmese workers. The mere suspicion awakened the deep prejudice against the Burmese.

To confirm these suspicions, the police immediately arrested a group of migrant workers accused of looting. The media proclaimed the Burmese were out to hit us again in out time of tragedy.

Instead of sending the accused to court, as is their basic right, the migrants were immediately deported. And then the authorities began rounding up all migrant workers with the excuse that the crackdown was necessary to prevent further crimes during this time of emergency.

Who cares if these people are registered workers legally entitled to the same assistance as all Thai workers? Who cares if deporting them will aggravate their plight? Who cares if will they face danger in Burma, which was also ravaged by the tsunami? According to local NGOs, more than 1,000 migrant workers have been deported. When Koh Song in Burma refused to accept them, the officials reportedly left them to their own devices on nearby islands.

To avoid deportation, many survivors have fled to the mountains where they are hungry, afraid and jobless. Is that why some have turned to theft? Many Thais agree with the deportations, saying the scarce resources available during the emergency should be for Thais alone.

The foreign tourists may applaud Thai generosity, but the tales our neighbors tell their children and grandchildren about us Thais will be much less flattering. These will be tales of racism, cruelty and heartlessness. They will be tales of a deep prejudice that could not be moved even by a natural disaster that highlighted the transience of life, the sameness of humanity and the futility of all prejudice.

When will we ever learn?

Sanitsuda Ekachai is Assistant Editor, Bangkok Post.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Solo Protestor in Rangoon

An excerpt from the article: http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=4283&z=153

The Boston, Massachusetts native said he had a sign next to him which read: "Buddha says, 'Quality of sidewalk and quality of government is same thing.'" The capital's sidewalks, like much of its infrastructure, are crumbling.

People fleeing their home

What is going on in the border? Check this article out.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Tsunami situation in Burma

Here is an e-mail from a friend in Burma.

This is just to inform you about our present situation about the Tsunami disaster. As you have already known on 26th December. There was an underwater earthquake in the India ocean causing lost of lives and distructions to many people.

Here in Myanmar too, we faced this disaster and the areas which were hit by the Tsunami were attached. The latest news tell us that (59)people died, (517) household distroyed and more than (2745) lost their farms and fisher men were homeless. They all need shelter, blankets, clothings, food, medical treatment and drinking water. Emergency relief activities were done by the government, local authority, Red cross society. Many well wishers make donations for that area people. But still help is needed endlessly. Drugs on cholera, fever and dysentry are most wanted by the local doctor who are active in medical treatment. Clean drincking water is a demand because all the deep wells and natural lakes are over whelmed by salt water. The wind is strong and so people need shelter and protection. Housing constructions are urgently in process.

I'm be coming to Ashram for the Advance GLT and then only I will being able to give more information about the matter.

See you soon.

With thanks,
Saw Naing

Here are some pictures of Tsunami in Thailand from a web site


  • ALOHA 19 (January 10, 2005)

  • Saturday, January 01, 2005

    Happy New Year!

    I went to the Buddha Park in Xieng Khouang and the Friendship Bridge in Dongphosy.

    Buddah Park is situated about 25 minutes drive outside of the Vientiane city. Although not an old temple, it is nevertheless fascinating for its huge structures that combine Buddhist and Hindu Philosophies. Here are some pictures:

    We also visited Friendship bridge. It was built by the help from Australia. The Friendship bridge was named so to illustrate the friendship among three different nations -- Laos, Thailand and Australia.

    Here are some more pictures from around the village.

    Buying Cassava on the street

    Our Laos lunch with sticky rice

    Grandfather and grandson in a village