Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mahatma Gandhi's words

First they ignore you. Then they laugh about you. Then they fight you. And then you win.


Mahatma Gandhi



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bon Von - Ya Know The Name (Burma)

A nice song. You might find this song interesting. He has style. He used Burmese instrument and created a nice song.

He was short-listed as the best 20 out of 1,100 entries from all over the world in the search for the world's best young band. The search was organized by BBC.

The Nominees

Listen to Bon Von on BBC


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Time flies

I can't believe that it's November already. Time flies whether you are having fun or not. Final exams will be coming up soon and projects will be due. I don't want to think about those yet :)



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Torpak Browser to bypass firewall

I came across Torpark, which is based on Firefox browser. I thought it might be useful in Burma. The technology is based on P2P like connection with its peers. I am not sure it will work behind the Bagan firewall in Burma. In case it does, there you have it. Test and try it out, folks in Burma.



Sunday, October 15, 2006

ALOHA from the Land of Smiles

October 15, 2006

Sawadee Khrap (in Thai), Min Ga La Bar (in Burmese), How are you (in English :-) ?

"The black coffee is as
... black as the devil ...
... hot as hell ...
... pure as an angel ...
and sweet as love!"

My friends and I were sipping cappuccino and espresso, sitting at the Black Canyon Cafe at the Major Cineplex movie theatre in Bangkok, and enjoying our Saturday evening after excruciating midterms. People were crossing by as if the world centered around them.

After finishing our cappuccino and espresso, we went to the theatre and enjoyed The Departed, in which Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) compete for the attention of the audience. It was a good movie.

The movie finished around 11:30. We took a taxi with five people squeezing in the back seat and one in the front. It was fun, just like in Burma. It reminded me of my Burmese students and Burma.

My students from the Myanmar Institute of Theology and I went on mission trip like this



After 2 years of teaching at the Myanmar Institute of Theology, I am back at school at the Asian Institute of Technology doing my Master of Science. Thanks to the partial scholarships from the school, the Open Society Institute, First Baptist Church of Fort Wayne, Friends of Burma, Catherine B. Sloan, Ko Toe (Stella Wai's son), Ko Tin Maung Maung Htwe, and Ko Si Thu Win. I really appreciate all your support so I can get back to school to get involved in studies again.

Another reason I am being in Bangkok is my involvement in the Burmese-English dictionary project, which we launched online recently. Here is the link if you are learning Burmese: http://sealang.net/burmese/

As a result, the project made me interested in Southeast Asian linguistics field and realized the lack of professional and talented involvement in the field. I want to be a scholar of Burmese and minority languages of Burma as well as Southeast Asian languages in general. I want to challenge and encourage Burmese students in the States to come back to Asia as we all need scholars and researchers to improve academic standards of Burma as well as Asia. You will never realize how much you are appreciated and how much you are contributing to the society in various ways.

Last but not least, please remember every Burmese migrant worker in Thailand in your prayers. They need your concerns and prayers very much.

Love in Christ,

Lwin Moe


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Burmese Information minister dodges question on detained students

http://english.dvb.no/news.php?id=8026


The information minister of Burma's military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), tried to avoid questions posed to him by journalists on the detention of 88 Generation Student leaders, according to journalists who don't want to be named.



Friday, October 13, 2006

Thai military coup

I don't think some Thai people realize that the military coup is actually a major setback for democracy in Thailand in the 21st century. Now the Burmese regime has an excuse saying that even Thailand needs military coup. Too bad for democratic reforms in Burma.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My student life at the Asian Institute of Technology

Doing homework with friends or chatting? :)



Nang Mo Phaung, a young Shan lady, and Ko Latt, Information Management students, studying?




Photo courtesy: Yin Aye Moe


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Former Student Leaders arrested on NLD's birthday

Ko Htay Kywe, Ko Ko Gyi and Min Ko Naing were arrested. And it's going to be brief according to an official at the ministry of home affairs.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=6196&z=154


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Opinions concerning recent military coup in Thailand

A senior Asean diplomat commented that this represents reversion to a pattern deeply embedded in Thailand's political DNA. It will set back Thailand many years. The real tragedy is that the Bangkok elite do not realize this and seem to be congratulating themselves over getting rid of a legitimately elected leader.


The diplomat added: "Yes, Thaksin was arrogant. But he wanted to change Thailand, and Thailand needs to be changed to meet 21st Century challenges. This was his real sin in the eyes of the Bangkok elite."


By Dan Smith for http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=6188&z=154



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

All businesses closed today in Thailand because of military coup

The military junta in Thailand has ordered all businesses closed today. We have no school. All the International news stations have been cut. The internet seems the only source of news about the updates. The Thai generals even sound like Burmese generals if you read the statement from yesterday. :)


Well, the good point is I can relax at home today. I don't have any classes.


At 3:52 AM, BBC and CNN are dropped from UBC, the key cable network provider. Doesn't it sound like blocking access to information?



Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Political instability in Thailand

Statement from the military reformist


The following is the statement from the miliary reformist.


There has been social division like never before. Each side has been trying to conquer another with all possible means and the situation tends to intensify with growing doubts on the administration amid widespread reported corruption.


State units and independent organisations have been politically meddled, not able to deliver their services as specified in the Constitution.


The administration is also usually bordering on "lest majest" actions against the revered King. Despite attempts from social units for compromises, there is no way to end the conflicts.


The revolution body thus needs to seize power. We have no intention to rule but to return the power to the people as soon as possible, to preserve peace and honour the King who is the most revered to all Thais.



Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Adjusting to AIT campus

I haven't been able to update my diary for a while now. I am crazy adjusting to my new campus at Asian Institute of Technology. I am back to studying again after all these years of idling in Burma, Laos and Thailand. I chose to study at AIT in Bangkok. Many people were surprised why I didn't choose the US. It is because I have been involved in computational linguistics projects related to Burmese, Mon, Karen and Shan. And I like Asia.





Saturday, August 19, 2006

Myanmar's ambassador to the Philippines

From: http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com

Myanmar's ambassador to the Philippines Thaung Tun denied allegations of human rights abuses in the military-ruled state and dismissed international pressure to win Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

The ambassador may be right. There are no human rights abuses in Burma. :-) It was only that in some villages, the village authorities just ask for volunteer services of villagers whether they want to do it or not.

Villagers are afraid of authorities and there is no freedom of speech. Villagers also have to be afraid of anybody with guns whether they are government soldiers or anti-government groups.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Shoes stolen in Bangkok

Last night, there were some thieves who broke into my friend's house. We had all the shoes stolen. Today, I bought a new Adidas shoe. My last shoe, which I bought from the US and used for 4 years, has finally been stolen. It's time for a new one.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rambo in Burma

If you want to settle in the States, Australia, Canada or England, reconsider that plan. Rambo is thinking about retiring in Bangkok, Thailand. And he is going to Burma for another mission. :-) Come live in Burma :-)


From the Sun Online:


http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2004580002-2006350287,00.html


Sly said: "I asked them [Soldier of Fortune magazine] what is the most critical man-doing-inhumanity-to-man situation right now in the world? Where is it? The answer was Burma."


Sly outlined the plot, saying Vietnam war vet Rambo was now living a monastic lifestyle in Bangkok and salvaging old boats and tanks for scrap metal.


He said: "It's like he's stripping himself down. That old piece of military equipment."


When a group of volunteers bringing supplies into Burma disappears, a relative of one of the missing missionaries begs Rambo to find them.


He heads off with a team of young guns to get the job done.



Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Getting back from Burma

I got back from Burma. I am helping with a web page for Nightly Devotion. This is for Burmese Christians abroad.



I will write more about my experiences later.



Thursday, July 20, 2006

Freedom of speech at Rangoon University

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aung_San

Excerpts from Wiki article about General Aung San

In February, 1936, he [Aung San] was expelled from the university, along with Ko Nu, for refusing to reveal the name of the author who wrote an article entitled "Hell Hound At Large" directed at a senior University official. This led to a university students strike, and the university subsequently retracted their expulsion orders. In 1938, Aung San was elected president of both the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU) and the All-Burma Students Union (ABSU). In the same year, the government appointed him as a student representative on the Rangoon University Act Amendment Committee.
Here is the article taken from http://yazakyaw.blogspot.com/2008/02/blog-post_07.html:
The Hell-Hound at Large
Escaped from Awizi, a devil in the form of a black dog. Had been during his brief span on earth a base object of universal odium and execration, ̶ sentenced to Eternal Damnation for Treachery, Theft, Presumption, Intrigue, Pettifogging, Sadism, Churlishness, Vulgarity, etc. A pimping knave with avuncular pretensions to some cheap wiggling wenches from a well-known Hostel, he was also a hectic popularity-hunter, shamming interest in Games, Concerts, Associations, etc., menacing the public placed with his unwanted presence though generally welcomed everywhere as small-pox. His only distinguishing marks have been the abominable V.D. ulcers on his neck and buboes due to copulation with his own wife.
Will finder please kick him back to Hell?
Yamamin.
From: "Oway" or The Voice of Peacock, Voice of the RUSU, Jan. 1936; Vol 5, No. 1, p. 56. Points from Letters.




Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I read about a Karen choir leader in Chiang Mai at today's Bangkok Post

http://bangkokpost.com/News/19Jul2006_news13.html


Choir leader'splight to be highlighted


Payap University in Chiang Mai will today hold a seminar to highlight the plight of the stateless musician Ayu Namtep and back calls for the granting of Thai citizenship to her. Thanaporn Panjira, head of the university's public relations and student enrolment office, said the seminar aims to provide encouragement to the ethnic Karen choirmistress, who has tried to secure Thai nationality throughout her life. At 51, Ayu Namtep has taught music at Payap University for 30 years. Her choir, Payap Sacred Music Singers, was chosen to compete in the World Choir Games, also known as the Choir Olympics, between Saturday and July 26 in Xiamen, south China.


Not surprising why many stateless people along the border want to become Khon Thai (Thai Citizen). More opportunities and freedom compared to Burma. A loss of talents for Burma!



Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I read this news from Shanghai Daily

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2006-07/18/content_643227.htm


Illgal Myanmar 'wives' return to home country


Pulic security authorities in Xincai County, central China's Henan Province, repatriated six Myanmar women last week, who were illegal immigrants and had married locals.


In the recent two years, "wives" from Myanmar have become an increasingly noticeable presence in some areas of the province.


Poverty is considered a major reason for the illegal immigration of Myanmar women and illegal marriage.


Citing Cai Xiangyang, a Myanmar language expert who worked as an interpreter in the case, the newspaper said in those less developed areas in Myanmar, some Myanmar people hoped to go to China to have a better life through marriage with Chinese.


However, poverty is also a reason why some Henan people were willing to marry Myanmar women.



Sunday, July 16, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

News from today's Bangkokpost

Thai chopper fired by a Burmese soldier


http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/14Jul2006_news21.html


The Burmese military had admitted one of its soldiers fired at a Thai helicopter, but claimed he was acting on his own in the mistaken belief it was a helicopter of the Shan State Army, one of the largest ethnic groups fighting the military junta.


The SSA has no helicopters.


"Col Mya Han said the private was too young to assess the situation before firing his weapon," said Col Suthat, adding Col Mya Han had punished the private and his supervisor.


The private was too young to assess the situation? Sounds like a good excuse! When reading between the line, it's also an admission of guilt that Burmese soliders are too young and anything can happen in the war zone. It is OK for soldiers to abuse local villagers in the war zone?



Friday, July 07, 2006

Updates about Myanmar Unicode

I checked Keith Stribley's www.thanlwinsoft.org on the current Unicode implementation for Burmese. I found out that he has done implementation for the new, proposed standard for Myanmar (which is still in the process of being accepted). Here is the converter to that standard. It can also convert Myanmar Unicode 4 to the proposed standard. His website has lots of information about Myanmar Unicode. Padauk has been the greatest Myanmar unicode font with excellent design. The only drawback is it uses Graphite rendering engine and requires a special build of Firefox, OpenOffice to use.

http://thanlwinsoft.org/ThanLwinSoft/Downloads/#teckit


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

Gmail blocked

It was rumored last January that Gmail and Gtalk would be banned. It is confirmed now. Many of my friends were frustrated.


An official from Bagan Cybertech, the country's only Internet service provider, confirmed that both Google and gmail were inaccessible but declined to comment further.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1692971.cms

I truly hope that they will reconsider this.

Some work-around to bypass

Gmail Lite

Search for keywords "gmail lite links" or anything related to gmail lite and you can find some links to check gmail (which are intended for mobile devices).

http://m.gmail.com

http://gmail.asware.net

http://www.serendipity.org.za/monday/

http://mobile.pocketmatrix.com/gmail/index.html?sid=43e174f60f050f9c9252730f2128dedb

https://laputa.sytes.net:883/gmailer/gmail-lite/

http://www.jimiz.net/gmail/

http://dev.yk55.com/g/glite-mobile/index.html

http://glite.sayni.net

http://mickey.globalogc.org/glite

http://gmobile.phpmagazine.net

Gtalk web based client

http://www.meebo.com

http://67.19.154.173/gtalk/index.html

Proxies

http://www.unipeak.com

Note: For some of you from Burma who are searching for www.bypass.ds4a.com, that web site has been dead for a while. Please don't waste your time.

Maxthon Browser getting popular in China to bypass censorship

http://www.maxthon.com

I don't know how Maxthon Browser works. You need to configure something to bypass the firewall. Enjoy tweaking it. If you figure out how, please let me and others know. Download it form one of the following links:

http://www.majorgeeks.com/download1244.html

http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/1029407732/2

Mirror 1


Monday, June 26, 2006

MIT education at your finger tips for free

In 1998 when I first went to the States to study, I dreamed that one day open and free online course materials will benefit all the unfortunate kids all over the world who couldn't afford to go to MIT or Harvard. Now MIT has its course materials available online FREE. Take advantage of it and get MIT education at your finger tips. I hope Burma will realize that Internet censorship is a bad thing after all. Open and free flow of information will benefit all people concerned down the road. Enjoy MIT courses here:

http://ocw.mit.edu


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Aw Pi Kye's Wisdom

This joke is for Burmese people only :-) Sorry if you can't read Burmese. I got this from Mg Hla's blog.




Friday, June 23, 2006

69 Burmese women were sold in China

69 Burmese women were sold for as much as 20,000 yuan ($2,500) each in China. According to a report by Reuters, Chinese police in the poor, inland province of Henan have rounded up 69 women from Burma who were sold to farmers unable to find local wives, quoting a Chinese newspaper report.

The women were smuggled into Xincai county from Burma some 4,000 km away, and sold for as much as 20,000 yuan ($2,500) each.

Source: http://in.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-06-16T155506Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-255099-1.xml

If you can read Chinese:

http://www.nanfangdaily.com.cn


Sunday, June 18, 2006

ALOHA from the Land of Smiles

June 18, 2006

Sawadee Khrap (in Thai), Min Ga La Bar (in Burmese), How are you (in English :-) ? It was hot and humid outside. The rain is so scanty in Bangkok. It is nothing comparable to Burmese rain forest. The cloudy sky made the weather hotter and more humid. Eighty degrees Fahrenheit plus 85 % relative humidity is something not pleasant to bear.

Nevertheless, it was very nice and cool inside Bangkok Christ Church. Leaving a nice air-conditioned building, Steven, Mar Naw and I went to rent a car at Lumpinee Car Rent Center Co., Ltd. at 167/4 Wireless Road, Bangkok. Steven and Mar Naw were students from Burma, studying at St. Johns University in Bangkok. A tall, thin Stephen with a nice smile, was the best in Thai among us.

After showing us around which car we could have, we needed to sign a rental agreement. Steven showed the office girl his passport. As soon as she saw the passport, she said we needed a Thai citizen's help to rent the car. She didn't say it at first even though she knew that we were foreigners. Only after she saw his Burmese passport, she changed all of a sudden. Maybe they had a double standard for Burmese. Steven called his Thai friend for help. Unfortunately, he was out of town. He couldn't come to help us.

A little bit being upset, we decided to go to another place, Highway Car Rent at 1018/5 Rama 4 Rd. Bangkok. This time, the guy from the car rental didn't say that we needed a Thai citizen. Instead, he took my friends' passport and went back into the office. It was more than half an hour later when he still didn't appear back from the office. We told the front office guy to give us our passports back if we couldn't rent a car. He went into the office, took our passports and give them back to us. Later we found out that the guy from the Highway Car Rent called Steven's family, talked to his father and asked questions like a detective would to investigate a crime. What was our crime? Being Burmese? :-)

Desperate, we decided to go to the car rental place at the airport and it went smoothly there. We were able to rent a four-wheel drive with no problems.

Burmese people have faced all kinds of discriminations and prejudice here in Thailand. However, many migrant workers, who crossed the border illegally, still want to live and work here. They are making more money and they have more freedom here, not being harassed by village authorities in Burma. However, they were still harassed and extorted money by the Thai police occasionally. When being asked by strangers, they are either too afraid to say they are Burmese or they are ashamed to do so. I truly understand why.

I hope our country's human rights situations and economy will improve so people will work in our own country to contribute to the development of beautiful Burma instead of contributing to the development of other countries.

Please remember all migrant workers, both legal and illegal in Thailand, of Burma in your prayers. May God bless you all!

Love in Christ,
Lwin Moe
http://lwinmoe.friendsofburma.org

Renting a car in Bangkok

It was hot and humid outside. The rain is so scanty in Bangkok. It is nothing comparable to Burmese rain forest. The cloudy sky made the weather hotter and more humid. Eighty degrees Fahrenheit plus 85 % relative humidity is something not pleasant to bear.

Nevertheless, it was very nice and cool inside Bangkok Christ Church. Leaving a nice air-conditioned building, Steven, Mar Naw and I went to rent a car at Lumpinee Car Rent Center Co., Ltd. at 167/4 Wireless Road, Bangkok. Steven and Mar Naw were students from Burma, studying at St. Johns University in Bangkok. A tall, thin Stephen with a nice smile, was the best in Thai among us.

After showing us around which car we could have, we needed to sign a rental agreement. Steven showed the office girl his passport. As soon as she saw the passport, she said we needed a Thai citizen's help to rent the car. She didn't say it at first even though she knew that we were foreigners. Only after she saw his Burmese passport, she changed all of a sudden. Maybe they had a double standard for Burmese. Steven called his Thai friend for help. Unfortunately, he was out of town. He couldn't come to help us.

A little bit being upset, we decided to go to another place, Highway Car Rent at 1018/5 Rama 4 Rd. Bangkok. This time, the guy from the car rental didn't say that we needed a Thai citizen. Instead, he took my friends' passport and went back into the office. It was more than half an hour later when he still didn't appear back from the office. We told the front office guy to give us our passports back if we couldn't rent a car. He went into the office, took our passports and give them back to us. Desperate, we decided to go to the car rental place at the airport and it went smoothly there. We were able to rent a four-wheel drive with no problems. Later we found out that the guy from the Highway Car Rent called Steven's family, talked to his father and asked questions like a detective would to investigate a crime. What was our crime? Being Burmese? :-)

Burmese people have faced all kinds of discriminations and prejudice here in Thailand. However, many migrant workers, who crossed the border illegally, still want to live and work here. They are making more money and they have more freedom here, not being harassed by village authorities in Burma. However, they were still harassed and extorted money by the Thai police occasionally. When being asked by strangers, they are either too afraid to say they are Burmese or they are ashamed to do so. I truly understand why.

I hope our country's human rights situations and economy will improve so people will work in our own country to contribute to the development of beautiful Burma instead of contributing to the development of other countries.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Myanmar Unicode Fonts

I think it's time for me to write something about current status of Myanmar Unicode fonts. Recently I have been seeing many people using ZawGyi-One Unicode font on some blogs. So I installed that font on my system. I also had MyaZedi font installed. Yesterday, I installed a new one, MyMyanmar Unicode font. What I found out was that since they used different partial encodings, it messed up my Burmese language display. It's very bad that they all use their own partial encodings, not fully compliant to true Unicode standard.


Padauk is the one and only almost-truly-Unicode-compliant. The only problem with Padauk is they use Graphite rendering engine. You need to install a special build of Graphite-enabled Firefox. Graphite rendering is slow for a very long Burmese page. And if you type in Padauk using Microsoft Word, it won't render correctly. You will also need a special Graphite-enabled word-processors such as OpenOffice.

Myanmar1 from Myanmar Unicode and Natural Language Processing Research Center is also said to be standard compliant. It's not completely done yet, I think. Correct me if I am wrong.

MyMyanmar, according to their web site, can also support true Unicode encoding.

ZawGyi-One and MyaZedi do not follow Unicode standard.

I personally think that the best and most elegant solution is Padauk.

My issue here is not to suggest you what font to use. Just to suggest to think in the long run. If you think your data are important and want it to be future-proof, please do research about the commitments of the developers of the fonts you are going to use. Make sure that it can be easily converted to future true Unicode encoding. The problem with partial encoding is that the future of your data will be at the mercy of the developers of those partial Unicode fonts. If they don't provide you any tools to convert to the new and latest standard, you will have to write your own converters if you are a programmer. If you are not, you are at the mercy of computer programmers.

If you absolutely have to use one of the partially-compliant Unicode fonts, please research their web sites for their committment to the future. Otherwise, it's better just to stick with old ASCII WinMyanmar fonts for now.

My experiences with Myanmar fonts

I have been involved in Burmese-English dictionary project for a while now. The dictionary was typed in Chitwin font, one of the earlier Myanmar fonts. We just had to write our own converter from Chitwin encoding to WinInnwa because Chitwin is too old. No converters for that encoding can be available from anywhere.

From WinInnwa to Unicode is easy because we used Keith Stribley's TECkit converters.

http://thanlwinsoft.org/ThanLwinSoft/MyanmarUnicode/Conversion/TECkit.html

Now that our dictionary data is in Unicode standard encoding, any standard Unicode fonts can display our web site correctly. Padauk can do it using Graphite-enabled firefox. MyMyanmar can do it with regular firefox.

If the Unicode encoding is modified in the future, I assume someone will have to write a converter from old unicode to the new version.

In my personal opinion, it is the safest to go with the standard becaues we are not relying on any fonts, Padauk, MyMyanmar or Myanamr1 per se. Upgrading from the old to new version might be complicated. But somebody definitely has to write the conversion tool. It's inevitable.

Paper and standard specifications on Myanmar Unicode

Representing Myanmar In Unicode, Details and Examples by Martin Hosken and Maung Tun Tun Lwin

Myanmar Unicode Standard


Saturday, June 10, 2006

MyMyanmar Unicode System

http://mymyanmar.net

This Myanamr unicode font is said to be truly unicode compliant.

Here is their font rendering our Burmese-English dictionary site correctly. Our dictionary will be released online soon here:http://www.sealang.net. Right now, we are still doing development work on it. Countless hours of Perl coding!




Thursday, June 08, 2006

China - Children of Blessing

I am right now watching a documentary called "China - Children of Blessing" on Australian TV. The documentary is about Lahu girls attedning urban Chinese schools. It reveals how China assimilates its minorities. Actually, Lahus are not only China's minorities. They also live in Burma.

Today's globalization has caused huge pressure on ethnic minorities to conform. I hope their cultural identity wouldn't be lost.

http://www.journeyman.tv/?lid=19246

The girls work hard determined to make their parents and Miss Peng proud. They sweep the boards in the games and score the highest in the Chinese exams. They should be happy but are they? They were lured into China with the promise of a better life. But over the past year, they've learnt they can only have this on Chinese terms.

http://www.childrenofblessing.com

"We Lahu people need to learn to speak Chinese, and just because we can speak Chinese doesn't mean we'll lose our culture and language," says Muga's Lahu mayor, Li Xinguang. "We need to communicate with the outside world, learn to farm better, and attract more investment."

Burma also needs to do a lot of work to help and educate the ethnic minorities living in Burma.

In the near future, I think I will go live near the border to help these people with their education.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Family Registration in Burma

Burma's military government has told residents in some townships in Rangoon to hang their family photos in their homes and to send copies to local authorities for security checks, according to residents in the capital.
http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=5844&z=154


Monday, June 05, 2006

Practical Aspects of Modern Cryptography

http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/csep590/06wi/lectures/



The University of Washington has made "Practical Aspects of Modern Cryptography" course availabe free online. One of these days, our young students in Burma will be able to follow a course from a prestigious university without having to spend a lot of money. My dream would come true one day.



Friday, May 26, 2006

Future of Burma?

Rev Nandasara (Buddhist monk) added that the situation in Burma is so bad that the Burmese people within and without Burma are too ashamed to say that they are Burmese.


http://english.dvb.no/news.html?id=7124

Many Burmese people in Thailand are ashamed to say that they are Burmese. Most of my Mon friends won't say that they are from Burma. They always say that they are Mon. Not Burmese :-) I partly agree with them that they are Mon. But they are citizens of Burma (Myanmar). However, nobody wants to say that they are from Burma.


Dr. Khin Maung Kyi also said "Within a hundred years from now, there will be no Burmese. There will be no Shans, no Karen no ethnic races. It is a serious problem--killing historical achievements, traditional knowledge and pride of a nation."


I think successive Burmese governments since the days of U Nu have killed the identity and pride of Burma. Let's look for the room for improvements and developments in Burma. I sure hope that as Burma opens up to the International community, there will be freedom of speech and expression.



Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Contemporary Art from Myanmar in Chiang Mai

The Nation has an article about the art exhibition by Burmese artists in Chiang Mai.

Burmese artists are not falling behind. If they have freedom of expression, I am sure they will do better.

Modern art may have originated in the West, but it offers limitless territory for outward-looking artists to explore. The Burmese whose works are on view here have discovered as much by looking within.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Life goes on in Burma

There have been news about Burma lately in the International media. As I just got back from Burma last Sunday, I have to say life goes on in Burma no matter what the International media say. Life is tough but people are moving on with their lives. People are all used to living without any human rights. People seem to have forgotten what the words "human rights" mean because there is none in Burma.

Two days before I left, I went to the Immigration department to apply for my Departure form, which is no longer needed in Thailand or even Laos. Burma is the only country that I know of where you have to go to the immigration department to apply for the departure form to leave the country.

Being pressed for time and lazy, I didn't want to do it myself. I paid the immigration officers 3000 kyats (US $3) to do the forms for me. It is hassel-free and saves time too. That seems to be what many people do. While I was waiting, sitting at one of the chairs, I noticed what the officers used to put the money in --- the trash bin :-) 3000 kyats from each person is enough to make the trash bin full of money :-) :-)

I had no problem at the airport last Sunday when I left Burma. The customs officers saw some Thai Bahts (about 500 bahts), and US $13 in my wallet. However, he didn't say a word about it. I think it's still illegal to hold foreign currencies in Burma -- the law which definitely needs to be changed. Passengers' wallets were not searched in Laos, a communist country.

When I got back to Bangkok, one of my friends, who came on the same plane with me, needed to exchange some money. It was so easy compared to Burma, where you had to look for brokers on the street or know their houses. Burma needs to keep up with its neighbors let alone the rest of the world. We have the most outdated and stupid laws which are not relevant to today's situations. We still have to rely on brokers on the street to exchange money because banking systems won't work and the market exchange rate is not recognized by the government. I think it's time to draw a curriculum of Economics 101 for our leaders :-) Just a joke, ok?

Sometimes, I feel like my country is going backwards instead of forwards. It will take years to keep up with Thailand. I think it's time for a change in Burma. We can't afford to go on like this. It's already a shame that Burma is this way. Let's think about what we can do for the better of our country.

I am interested in the announcement of Dr. Salai Tun Than. Here is his announcement in English, Burmese.


Monday, May 15, 2006

http://www.xanga.com/htoon_l

http://www.xanga.com/htoon_l



Thanks for linking to my site. But what he said about me is too good. I have my own weaknesses and do not deserve that much. That blogger said "His heart is as beautiful as a white rose, so pure and so perfect." My heart is just like any other ordinary human beings :-)



Friday, May 05, 2006

Cyclone Marla

A 150mph cyclone (named Marla by some) ripped through southwest Burma, killing at least 2, injuring over 20 people and destroying nearly 600 homes in Rangoon Hlaingthaya Township alone, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Misc.

I have been really busy, and did not have a chance to write my diary. Helping people is what I have been doing lately. I helped a friend with her US immigration visa application procedures. It was good to be able to help people. It also boosted the confidence in myself. My Thai is getting better and I hope to be able to have intelligent conversations in the near future.



I am going back to Burma on Saturday and I am excited about the trip. I won't get back to Bangkok until May 14. I will have a lot to write about when I get back from Burma. I want to see how the real situations in Burma are.



Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Burma, one of Asia's poorest countries

He Changchui, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, said the followings:



He Changchui said that Burma, one of Asia's poorest countries, does not have the personnel or facilities to deal with the outbreak [birdflu] but added that U.N. teams will focus on it in the coming weeks.


Burma is one of Asia's poorest countries. When will we wake up for a change?



Friday, March 31, 2006

One reason I don't feel like living in Burma for now

.... Although doing so [registering the Internet cafes with the government] incurs additional charges such as monthly fees and adherence to certain rules and regulations -- such as regular reports to Myanmar Info-Tech of internet users' identities and websites visited -- registering was a safe way of doing business, he [U Thaung Tin, managing director of Myanmar Info-Tech] said.

http://www.myanmar.com/myanmartimes/MyanmarTimes16-309/n018.htm

I don't want my identity and the sites I visited reported to the officials. It's invasion of privacy. Dr. Khin Maung Kyi said no Burmese students want to go back home to Burma. Here I am explaining to you why. During the past two years, I have the privilege of using crappy BaganNet service. I think I have enough. I have mastered skills of bypassing firewalls, though :-) It's a skills set you would master if you live in China and Burma.

At the Internet Café, they took users' fingerprint scans. My fingerprints were being taken in November, 2003.




Thursday, March 30, 2006

Young people looking out for opportunities abroad

......, and many younger people spent time searching out details on further study at universities abroad.

The above quote is from the article "Cyber cafe deals net customers" by Htar Htar Khin at the Myanamr Times weekly.

http://www.myanmar.com/myanmartimes/MyanmarTimes16-308/n017.htm

No doubt many young people want to leave Burma because the economic policy of the current government is not creating job opportunities for young people. We currently have many migrant workers in Thailand. Burmese professionals are working all over the world. I have suffered the last two years in Burma in terms of being ripped of my freedom of speech after enjoying free speech during my school days in the States. If I have to go back to Burma to teach at MIT (Myanmar Institute of Theology) right now, I will think it twice. I know that I am contributing a lot to the youth there. However, I need some money to support my family. I also can't just stand it being denied access to information.

The recent salary increase by the government is a good move because it will motivate many people to work in Burma instead of suffering in neighboring countries such as Thailand. I think freedom of speech is still needed for the people of Burma to be happy in their own country.

Here is what Dr. Khin Maung Kyi said about Burmese students. It is shockingly true.

There are a lot of Burmese students studying at Polytechnic schools in Singapore. The Burmese students don't want to go back home. They want to stay outside of the country and if possible, they would resettle in some developed countries. It is last stage of our national death. Within a hundred years from now, there will be no Burmese. There will be no Shans, no Karen no ethnic races. It is a serious problem--killing historical achievements, traditional knowledge and pride of a nation.

Dr. Khin Maung Kyi's credentials

Prof. Khin Maung Kyi, B.Com (Rangoon), M.B.A. (Harvard), Ph.D. (Cornell), Lecturer and then Professor in University of Rangoon, Institute of Economics, 1954-1978; Professor in Agribusiness, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, 1978-79; Associate Professor in Business Administration, National University of Singapore, 1979-1988; Senior Management Specialist, International Irrigation Management Institute, 1988-1990; Senior Fellow, Department of Business Policy, National University of Singapore, 1991- 1998


Friday, March 24, 2006

Zhang Ziyi

They think, "How can you be an international movie star?  You are only from China.." For them, China is like the countryside."

Zhang Ziyi said those words on the attitude of Hong Kongers.

Pic from Wiki:


There are a lot of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. The attitude of Thai towards Burmese are like what Zhang Ziyi said. At the same time, there are Thai migrant workers in Taiwan. Taiwanese took advantage of low cost labor offered by Thai migrant workers. Yet, the Thai migrant workers get negative press coverage in Taiwanese newspaper. Similarly, Burmese migrant workers get negative coverage in Thai media. We are now in globalization age. I wish people wouldn't look down on one another no matter which country they are from and what skin color they have.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Koh Samed Island




We went to Koh Samed island for the weekend. It was about 2 and a half hour bus drive from Bangkok. After getting off the bus, we had to take a boat to get to the island. The fees for the entrance to the national park was 20 bahts for Thai nationals and 200 bahts for foreigners. We pretended to be Thai and got away with paying 20 bahts for each. We had a hard time getting a room for seven of us. There were a lot of tourists there. After cruising through the island for about 2 hours, we managed to get a small room for Bahts 1,700. It was a small guest house.

We had fun swimming. At the restaurant we met Ma Nge, who was also from Mudon, Mon State, Burma. She has been in Koh Samed for about five years, working as a baby sitter. We also met a few more Burmese people who have been working here for many years. One of them said they could live more freely and work, earning decent income compared to Burma.





From left-right: Lwin Moe, Daisy Than, M Seng Ra, Zau Latt Awng. Front row: Diamond, Seng Pan


Jiptu (who is not in the above picture) and the girls





Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Burmese students at the home page of Indiana-Purdue University

Burmese students at the home page of Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana (Picture from the university's home page)



Fort Wayne has a vast number of Burmese, who fled Burma in 1989 after government cracked down the student-led uprising. Most of the people there are ex-student leaders. Some are ethnic mionrities along the Thai-Burma border, who got accepted as political refugees by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Some of them are US visa lottery winners. Some just migrated to the States to have better lives.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Burma's first cases of bird flu

http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=5555&z=154

Burmese government being praised for responsible handling of bird flu cases in Mandalay

The FAO and WHO today congratulated Burma on its response to what looks like the country's first cases of the disease.

"I think they have done very well, they have done what they can with limited resources, "a spokesperson for the WHO's Rangoon office said today. "There has been a positive change ... they have become very open [on bird flu]. So it is good from their side -- I don't think they are hiding."

Gleeson today also welcomed the actions taken by the Burmese authorities in dealing with the situation: "They seem to have responded well in diagnosing and reporting this outbreak," he said.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thailand's Internet access

I tried to visit some proxy servers and learned that Thailand also blocked access to information. So much for freedom of speech! If I have been whining about Burma the last two years, I have to say that Thailand also wants to limit access to information. However, it's not as bad as Burma.

Screenshot of 'Access Denied' page in Thai




Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Studying with candle light

http://english.dvb.no/news.html?id=6582

Pupils have been using candlelight when the electric light goes off, a pupil told DVB. "We have to buy candles at 50 kyat a piece. 5 candles a night," a parent said. "Sometimes, I bought 2 packets. Six candles in a packet."

I rememberd studying through high school exams with kerosene lamps and candle lights.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friends of Burma Board Meeting

Last month, Friends of Burma had a board meeting. Here is the picture of their meeting in Arizona. Neil and Diana Sowards, David and Doris Horton, Tansy Kadoe and Adam Maung were there.

Friends of Burma hosts my web site and they helped me to study in the States. They helped Burmese people in small things that they can. Here is their web site: http://www.friendsofburma.org




Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The plight of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand

http://khitpyaing.org/modules.html?name=Sections&op=viewarticle&artid=887



There is a new law for registration of migrant workers in Thailand. Workers have to pay 10,000 bahts (US$ 250) if they have registered before. If they are new, they have to pay 50,000 bahts (US$ 1,250). One worker said, "If I have $ 1,250, I would not come to work in Thailand in the first place." Burmese government's failed economic policy can't create jobs for our people and there have been serious problems of migrant workers around Thailand and China borders.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Koh Kret Island

Last Sunday, I went to Koh Kret island in the middle of Chao Phraya River. Koh Kret was founded a long time ago by ethnic Mons whose ancestors left Mon Kingdom after their capital was attaked by Along Pa Ya (the King of Burma). The island is famous for Mon-style pottery called "Hai" which is still made on the island today.

I met an old Mon man who can still speak Mon. However, his Mon sounds a bit different to me. Thai influence, I guess.

Too bad I don't have a camera any more. So I can't take any pictures.

By the way, today is Valentine day. I want to wish all of you a happy Valentine day and may you feel God's love today :-)


Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Rise and Fall of Burma's Casino Capital By Clive Parker

I read the article, "The Rise and Fall of Burma's Casino Capital By Clive Parker/Mong La, Shan State" from the Irrawaddy today.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=5452

The article talked about the fall of casinos in Shan State because of restrictions by Chinese government.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Visa Run

I went to Ban Laem in Chantaburi province for my visa run yesterday. It was a four-hour bus trip to the Cambodia border. We crossed the border and had lunch at a casino in Cambodia. After lunch at about 12:30, we crossed the border to be back into Thailand. Voila, I had a 90-day stay in Thailand again. It took me a day and 2000 Bahts for that. On the bus, I met a Japanese guy who spoke highly of Burmese programmers.




Sunday, February 05, 2006

Speaking at Bangkok Christ Church

I had to speak at the youth group at Bangkok Christ Church. I spoke about accidents, about which I spoke at MIT a few years ago.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chinese google filter only works if you know how to spell

Recently, Google has complied with Chinese censorship laws and filtered search results for users in China. However, some people have discovered how to search results for Tiananmen squre pictures using different spellings.

Paul Boutin has a blog entry about bypassing Google's censorship in China. I don't know how good the bypassing is if you use Chinese language. But it's interesting.

http://paulboutin.weblogger.com/2006/01/29#a1423


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Another week gone again

Um.........another week gone again. Time flies. Last week was just programming and programming. My skills in Perl are improving and I am learning more tricks in vi editor. Nothing much about Burma lately. All I do here in Bangkok is just programming and solving computer problems. Boring, huh? ;-) I just want to say have a nice weekend. See you next week.



Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Picture from MIT

I feel stressed out today. Having problems with my programming project at work. Um..... What can I say? It's just part of life, right? :-) I have to look ahead. When all things are over, I will feel much better.

I can't believe that January is almost gone. I have been here in Bangkok almost 3 months. I am learning so much from my work. My Perl programming is getting better and I understand a lot more about image processing. All the more reasons I can't complain much, huh? :-)

Have a good week wherever you are!

I want to share a picture that was sent to me from the Myanmar Institute of Theology. The picture was a group of MIT's guests participating at the Doing Theology under the Bo Tree program.

Doing Theology Under the Bo Tree, a program that is open to seminary and university students, Christian ministers and lay people, was inaugurated in 2000. This program includes opportunities for a week-long study trip to Mandalay, Bagan and Inlay Lake in upper Myanmar, and to Mawlamyine and Pa-an, Basein, in lower Myanmar. Visits to Buddhist homes for fellowship with the Buddhist families, and to some historic sites in Yangon city such as Shwedagon Pagoda, Kaba-Aye Pagoda, The International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University and Buddhist meditation centers for study and research purposes are part of this program.

Participants of Doing Theology under the Bo Tree at Shwe Da Gon Pagoda



Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Professor Salai Tun Than

Dr. Salai Tun Than's picture from http://www.ahrchk.net/tunthan



Dr. Salai Tun Than of ethnic Asho, was famous for appearing in front of Yangon (Rangoon) City Hall in his academic gown, demostrating against the military government back in 2001. He was arrested until May 2003. He got his PhD in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin and had served as rector at the Yezin University of Agriculture in Pyinmana until 1990.

Recently, he has written an open letter to the Myanmar (Burmese) government urging democratic changes in a very interesting way, for the benefits of all parties involved. I think his letter is interesting.

Dr. Salai Tun Than's related news

Facts about Dr. Salai Tun Than

Vigil for Hunger Striker Salai Tun Than in May 2003

Open Letter to the Myanmar Government


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Scanned books

I have been busy lately trying to work on improving scanned images from dictionaries -- Shorto Mon Dictionary and Khmer dictionary.

Shorto, H L: MA, Lecturer in Mon 1952-64
Reader in the Languages and Literatures of South East Asia 1964-71
Professor of Mon Khmer Studies 1971-84 



South-east Asian languages present many interesting and challenging programming problems. It's fun to work with these languages. There are a lot of research to be done for the languages of Burma. If you are in Burma and a computer scientist, don't get despaired. There are a lot to be done and we lack human resources for now because of brain drains for many reasons. I don't want to go into details here.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Going to church

Happy New Year to you all. I went to Evangelical Church of Bangkok today with some of my Burmese students. On the way back, I spotted a homeless person on the bridge crossing the Sukhumvit road. Please let us remember those who are suffering both in Burma and everywhere in our prayers as we count our blessings.



With some of my students