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 We have the most outdated and stupid laws which are not relevant to today's situations.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.


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