BurmaNet News, October 6, 2004
editor at burmanet.org
Wed Oct 6 13:16:31 EDT 2004
October 6, 2004, Issue # 2574
Economic Times: Yangon ready to coordinate against ultras
Reuters: Myanmar ministers leave for Asia-Europe summit
BUSINESS / MONEY
Indian Express: OVL, GAIL to get 30% stake in Myanmar block.
Malay Mail: 'Time to get tough with Myanmar'
Bangkok Post: Asem to avoid mention of Burma; Asean wants focus on
economic, cultural ties
Thai News Service: Thai Foreign Minister discusses Myanmar's political
deadlock with UN
US Campaign for Burma: Senators Call to Cease Fund to Burma
Dow Jones: Divisions Over Myanmar Shadow Asia-Europe Meeting This Wk
OPINION / OTHER
FEER: Business As Usual in Rangoon
AWSJ: Capitulating to Burma's Oppressors
The Australian: Poet turned politician gave a rare voice to Burma
October 6, The Economic Times
Yangon ready to coordinate against ultras
NEW DELHI: Giving a boost to India's battle against extremist groups
operating in the Northeast, Yangon has agreed to cooperate with Indian
security forces and flush out militants operating from Myanmarese soil
along the Indo-Myanmar border.
Foreign secretary Shyam Saran, who came back today after three-day talks
with Myanmarese officials, has been given a firm assurance that
insurgents, who were on the run after the military offensive against them
in Bhutan in December last year, would not be allowed to regroup in
Although the possibility of joint operations was diplomatically turned
down, Myanmar has given its consent for planned offensives that its forces
can carry out based on information provided by Indian agencies.
"The two sides agreed to exchange information and carry out coordinated
security operations on their respective sides of the border to deal with
insurgency and prevent smuggling of arms across the border,'' a senior MEA
In his meeting with the Myanmarese prime minister Gen Khin Nyunt
yesterday, Mr Saran was also assured that terrorist groups would not be
allowed use of its territory for activities which are inimical to India.
There was, however, no significant progress on the bilateral accord to
fight terrorism, which India has been pressing for, with the status still
on drafting such an agreement.
Myanmar's cooperation is crucial to fight insurgency in the Northeast,
given that the militant groups have found a haven in the dense jungles
along the Indo-Myanmar border.
The recent killings in Assam and Nagaland have only confirmed that groups
like the NDFB and ULFA, which were on the run after the military
offensives in Bhutan, had regrouped in Myanmar and bangladesh.
The attacks, which came within 48 hours of Assam chief minister Tarun
Gogoi offering a conditional ceasefire to both these insurgent groups, in
fact appeared to be aimed at dispelling the impression that they had been
dismantled after the Bhutan operations.
Mr Gogoi has been advocating a unified operation against the insurgents
and has asked New Delhi to hold talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar on the
Mr Saran, who was in Myanmar for foreign office consultations at the
invitation of deputy foreign minsiter U Kyaw Thu, also called on several
other key officials of the ruling junta including the minister for home
affairs, Col Tin Hlaing. In a joint statement yesterday, the two countries
had "condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed to
enhance bilateral cooperation to curb and eradicate terrorist and other
Mr Saran's visit is one more link in the string of heightened interactions
between the two countries. Even as Mr Saran is just back, Myanmar's deputy
minister for home affairs Brigadier General Phone Swe is currently in New
Delhi to hold talks over the international border issue.
October 6, Reuters
Myanmar ministers leave for Asia-Europe summit
Myanmar's new Foreign Minister Nyan Win flew to Hanoi on Wednesday to
attend an Asia-Europe summit overshadowed by Yangon's human rights record
and its house arrest of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
Nyan Win, an army general who succeeded Win Aung earlier this month in a
military shake-up, was joined by Labour Minister Tin Win, another former
army officer who was once ambassador to the United States, officials said.
The Oct. 8-9 Asia-Europe meeting for heads of government, aimed at
bringing the two groups closer together, was in doubt until the European
Union agreed to let Myanmar attend at a lower level.
Britain, the former colonial ruler of what was then Burma, objected to
Myanmar's presence while Suu Kyi remained under house arrest. She has been
in one form of detention or another since May last year.
Nyan Win, 50, was a vice-chief of Armed Forces Training, before he was
appointed foreign minister and has no diplomatic experience.
There had been confusion earlier this week about who was representing
Myanmar at ASEM when host Vietnam said Nyan Win was not attending and that
another minister would be going.
BUSINESS / MONEY
October 6, Indian Express
OVL, GAIL to get 30% stake in Myanmar block.
ONGC Videsh Ltd and GAIL will get 30 per cent stake in Myanmar's block
A-3, which lies adjacent to a block where large quantities of gas reserves
were discovered earlier this year. Daewoo International of South Korea
will give 30 per cent of its stake in A-3 to OVL and GAIL. Earlier, GAIL
chairman and managing director Proshanto Banerjee had told the media that
both OVL and GAIL were negotiating with Daewoo for stake in the gas block.
According to ONGC officials, "Indian firms will pay Daewoo for the past
cost incurred in exploration of A-3 block and share future exploration and
production costs in proportion to their shareholding." The official did
not say how much money OVL and GAIL will pay Daewoo but said seismic
surveys were being done on block A-3 which were likely to cost $6 million.
OVL and GAIL have a similar equity participation structure in block A-1
off the Myanmar coast where 4-6 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves have
Daewoo has 60 per cent interest in a-1 while Kogas of Korea has the
remainder. Daewoo, the operator of both A-1 and A-3 blocks, sees India as
the market for the gas it has found off the Myanmar coast and has roped in
OVL and GAIL for the same purpose.
October 6, Malay Mail
'Time to get tough with Myanmar'
KUALA LUMPUR: The DAP wants Malaysia to get tough with Myanmar's military
Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said in two years, Myanmar will play host to an
Asean international conference and this would be a disgrace to the 10-
"The Yangon military government has consistently ignored the appeals of
the international community and Asean to release political prisoners,
including Aung San Suu Kyi, and stop human rights abuses," she said.
"Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last year called on Asean
to expel Myanmar for its human rights abuses. I hope Malaysia will uphold
his firm stand in the event of Myanmar's leaders making no effort to
improve human rights," she said.
October 6, Bangkok Post
Asem to avoid mention of Burma; Asean wants focus on economic, cultural
ties Achara Ashayagachat
Thailand and Asean will try to play down contentious issues such as the
political situation in Burma at this week's Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) and
try to focus on revitalising economic partnerships and cultural dialogue
to promote peace and tolerance instead.
Most European Union (EU) members would also prefer to help avoid any
rancour and let discussions on Burma take place at the bilateral level,
Asean sources said.
Asem has yet to make substantial progress in addressing areas of mutual
interest, especially after both groups' enlargement.
Asia now has delegates from Laos, Cambodia and Burma. Europe has added
Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia,
Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sihasak
However, other political issues will remain dominant at the fifth Asem
summit in Hanoi this week, with a broad range of discussions ranging from
terrorism and threats from weapons of mass destruction to tension on the
Korean peninsula and the war in Iraq, diplomats said.
Leaders of the 25 European nations, including the European Commission
president and 10 Asian leaders (except Burma represented in a compromise
deal by foreign minister Maj-Gen Nyan Win) will discuss multilateralism in
the face of current regional and global changes.
The hot topic of UN reform and how to tackle human trafficking, bird flu,
Aids and Sars will also be discussed, they said.
"For Thailand, the Asem process should not be outweighed by political
dialogue as has usually been the case in the past and we would like to see
stronger political and economic partnerships amid globalisation, energy
and environmental challenges," Mr Sihasak said.
As for the cultural dimension that also plays a significant political
impact, ethnic differences and religious conflicts should not be played
Cultural dialogue to promote peace and tolerance should be encouraged, the
Thai spokesman said.
Vietnam is spending US$14 million to host the largest-ever Asem summit on
Friday and Saturday.
The issue of progress towards democracy in Burma will inevitably be
broached during the informal dinner on Thursday and once again at the
formal meeting on Friday, sources said.
Senior officials and foreign and economic ministers would work out the
leaders' agendas from today.
Asean sources said both the EU and Asean need to make some very difficult
They might very well conclude not to let differences over Burma spoil the
atmosphere or sabotage the Asem summit. "Asean's position is to separate
Burma's political situation from the long-term Asem relationship. If some
EU members have an axe to grind, they can do so in bilateral talks with
Burma," a source said.
October 5, Thai News Service
Thai Foreign Minister discusses Myanmar's political deadlock with UN
Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai on Friday met with the United
Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to discuss political deadlock in
Myanmar, as the country's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, remains
under a house arrest despite intensified efforts to free her.
Mr. Razali Ismail, the UN special envoy, has not been allowed back into
Myanmar since his last visit in March. His requests for visa have been
reportedly turned down repeatedly.
''Mr. Surakiart and the UN secretary general discussed the problems
regarding Myanmar as the UN special envoy has been denied visa to Myanmar
to do his job as a peace broker between the Myanmar military regime and
the opposition,'' said Sihasak Phuangketkeow, the Foreign Ministry
In August, Mr. Annan and the US government called for Rangoon to release
the detained leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), who has
been under a house arrest for more than a year.
''But if we look at a general picture, there is a progress made in
Myanmar. The government is in the process of drawing a ''roadmap'' for
democracy and there will be a convention coming up. The most important
thing is to make sure Myanmar does what it says even though a lot of
people might have been disappointed that Aung San Suu Kyi has not been
released, '' said Sihasak.
However, without Aung San Suu Kyi being released, the NLD is refusing to
take part in the political process with the military junta.
Mr. Sihasak said the Thai foreign minister has also urged all countries to
support the UN's role in trying to build a political reconciliation in
October 5, US Campaign for Burma
Senators Call to Cease Fund to Burma
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), along with Senators Judd
Gregg (R-NH) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), last week called on the Global
Fund to cease additional funding for Burma and other state sponsors of
In a letter to the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria, Brownback and the senators asked for assurances
that none of the $2.4 million initial disbursement for Burma by the Global
Fund will be provided to the State Peace and Development Council, an
illegitimate military junta ruling Burma.
"While we take no issue with appropriate measures to assist the Burmese
people, we are appalled that the Global Fund and the United Nations
Development Program seemingly fail to recognize that the SPDC is solely
responsible for creating the myriad humanitarian crises faced by Burma
today-whether an exploding HIV/AIDS rate, a ruined economy, a high rate of
poverty, or a political environment marked by torture, rape, intimidation
and imprisonment," the senators wrote. "This stands in stark contrast to
the recent comments of United Nations World Food Programme Deputy
Executive Director Sheila Sisulu that the SPDC is responsible for failing
to meet the basic needs of the Burmese people.
"We strongly encourage the Global Fund to withhold the disbursement of
additional funds to Burma, and we request an explanation of the
substantial amount-$2.4 million-processed in the initial disbursement.
This is more than one-third of the total amount of the grant, and seems
particularly reckless given the difficulties of conducting programs in a
created and perpetuated by the SPDC."
The senators also cautioned the UNDP to be aware of the realities of the
"odious nature" of the junta, which has been well documented by the United
Nations, the European Union, the U.S. State Department, and countless
other official and nongovernmental organizations.
In the letter, Brownback, Gregg and McConnell stated that the Global
Fund's operations in Burma raise similar concerns in countries with
illegitimate and hard-line regimes, including those designated by the U.S.
State Department as sponsors of terrorism. Global Fund has approved
funding for Cuba, Sudan, Iran and North Korea. The senators requested a
update on grant proceedings involving programs in Burma, Iran, North
Korea, the Sudan and Cuba from the Global Fund.
Brownback is chairman of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign
[For full text: http://brownback.senate.gov/pressapp/record.cfm?id=227129
October 6, Dow Jones
Divisions Over Myanmar Shadow Asia-Europe Meeting This Wk
HANOI (AP)--Deep divisions over Myanmar's military junta cloud this week's
summit between Asian and European leaders in Hanoi despite a last-minute
compromise that appeased Europe's concerns and allowed the meeting to take
The fifth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which opens on Friday, was nearly
canceled over the European Union's objections to Myanmar's participation.
Only skilled diplomatic maneuvering last month kept the biennial forum
from being canceled.
"I think the fact that the meeting is taking place at all shows a lot of
diplomatic effort to resolve the Myanmar issue. There was a recognition
that ASEM was important to continue," said Yeo Lay Hwee, executive
director of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
The forum, begun in 1996, brings together the E.U. and 10 Asian nations,
including China, Japan and South Korea. This year marks the group's formal
enlargement, adding the 10 new E.U. members who joined in May along with
Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
The summit formally opens Friday, and the 38 leaders are expected to
address a wide range of issues, including nuclear tensions on the Korean
Peninsula, terrorism and economic cooperation.
But the Myanmar issue continues to be a sore point between E.U. nations
and their Asian counterparts.
For months, European leaders had been deadlocked over allowing Myanmar to
attend because of its poor human rights record. They have long accused
Myanmar's military rulers of human rights abuses and have repeatedly
called for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The E.U., led by Myanmar's former colonial ruler, Britain, had threatened
to boycott the summit if Myanmar's hardline leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe
In turn, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, backed by
China and Japan, demanded that Myanmar be admitted in return for the
participation of the 10 new E.U. nations.
The hard-fought compromise allows for the attendance of a lower-level
delegation from Myanmar - to be led by new Foreign Minister Nyan Win and
Labor Minister Tin Winn. Win Aung, the longtime public face for the
military regime, was abruptly replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle two weeks
Still, the European nations have made it clear they intend to use the
summit as an opportunity to confront Myanmar over its abuse of human
rights and political freedoms.
The E.U. has set an Oct. 8 deadline - the start of the summit - for the
release of Suu Kyi from house arrest and for allowing her National League
for Democracy Party a role in writing the constitution.
"If the deadline elapsed without progress...we are preparing for a set
of...intensified sanctions," said Ambassador Markus Cornaro,
representative of the European Commission in Hanoi.
Further sanctions would include a visa ban on junta officials and a halt
to international funding for Myanmar.
Myanmar's recent Cabinet reshuffle raised concerns that the junta was
strengthening its hardline position by replacing moderates.
European nations have hinted their disapproval. Britain's Prime Minister
Tony Blair isn't attending ASEM at all, instead sending Deputy Prime
Minister John Prescott.
France's President Jacques Chirac, who arrives Wednesday on a two-day
state visit, will skip the enlargement ceremony, opting for a visit to an
archaeological site. Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won't arrive
in Hanoi until after the ceremony Thursday.
Despite the rift, diplomats said they don't expect the forum will be
dominated by the one issue.
"There have been some problems between the E.U. and ASEM over the Myanmar
issue but I believe they will not hijack or overshadow the global summit,"
said German Ambassador to Hanoi Christian-Ludwig Weber-Lortsch.
Edited by Mary de Wet
OPINION / OTHER
Issue Cover dt., October 7, Far Eastern Economic Review
Business As Usual in Rangoon
Some diplomats and observers in Burma are challenging media speculation
about a power struggle in Rangoon following a recent reshuffle in Burma's
military government. The junta announced on September 18 that five cabinet
members, including Foreign Minister Win Aung and his deputy, Khin Maung
Win, had been given "permission to retire." They were replaced by
Maj.-Gen. Nyan Win, a deputy head of armed-forces training, and infantry
commander Col. Maung Myint. Several regional and international media
organizations characterized the two men as "hardliners" loyal to junta
chief Gen. Than Shwe, while portraying the departing officials as closer
to pragmatic Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. They warned of a power struggle
and a hardening of attitude toward the West. But diplomats in Rangoon and
Burmese observers dismiss such speculation and say that, for once, the
phrase "permitted to retire" was not a euphemism for being sacked. They
say that Win Aung had been seeking to retire for three years, while Khin
Maung Win also wanted out after heart surgery last year and the recent
death of his wife from cancer. "There may be some disagreements among the
generals, but the bonds that unite them are much stronger," says an Asian
envoy, while dismissing the reports about a power struggle.
October 6, Asian Wall Street Journal
Capitulating to Burma's Oppressors
On Thursday evening in Hanoi, European leaders will sit down alongside
representatives of the murderous illegal junta that rules Burma, their
principles in tatters.
Earlier this year, the European Union said that Burma could only attend
the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) if it met three conditions: the release of
Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleague U Tin U, the
re-opening of National League for Democracy (NLD) offices, and the
participation of ethnic minorities and pro-democracy groups in Burma's
National Convention. The junta, known as the State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC), has failed on all three counts, but the EU, instead of
enforcing its conditions, caved in to Asean's demand that Burma be allowed
to participate in the ASEM talks, despite fierce opposition from the
European Parliament. The EU's action has been described by one Burmese
democrat as "weak and vague." It could more frankly be called spineless
Since Ne Win's coup in 1962, Burma has been ruled by successive military
regimes. While there have been personnel changes and occasional facelifts,
the brutality continues. The Junta has held a National Convention, but
without the participation of the main pro-democracy and ethnic-minority
groups it was a sham. It has begun ceasefire talks with the Karen National
Union (KNU), but has intensified military offensives against other ethnic
groups, and is continuing its catalogue of atrocities in all ethnic areas
-- widespread and systematic use of rape, forced relocation, forced labor,
child soldiers, human minesweepers, religious persecution and the
destruction of villages and crops.
Over 1,400 prisoners of conscience are behind bars, an estimated one
million people are internally displaced, and student leader Min Ko Naing,
whose prison term has long since expired, continues in solitary
confinement. Torture is a fact of life in Burma's prisons and ethnic
areas. The regime itself is illegal, since it overwhelmingly lost the 1990
elections to the NLD -- yet it ignores the results of those elections,
imprisons the victors and has intensified its grip on power.
Nevertheless, the decision to include Burma at ASEM has been taken and the
focus now must be on what message to deliver to the junta. A starting
point would be to call specifically for the release of Ms. Suu Kyi, the
world's only Nobel laureate under house arrest, and for the beginning of
meaningful dialogue with the NLD. In 2006, Burma is scheduled to hold the
presidency of Asean. But the idea that the generals in Rangoon could host
world leaders at summits on economic cooperation whilst continuing to
rape, loot, torture and kill Burma's people churns the stomach. Both the
EU and Asean should issue a statement at ASEM making it clear that Burma
will not be allowed to assume the 2006 presidency unless things change.
There is a serious danger that the SPDC will paint a veneer of democracy
in the next two years whilst in reality cementing its hold on power. Of
the thousand delegates at the National Convention, 900 are handpicked by
the regime. If the junta puts a draft constitution to a vote in the
National Convention, it will win without contest. The international
community, including Asean, must make it clear that such an outcome will
Unless clear measures are taken, the only lesson the SPDC will learn is
that the EU's conditions are meaningless. That has serious implications
for the safety of Ms. Suu Kyi. Last year the junta orchestrated an attack
on her in central Burma, and, according to eyewitnesses, massacred some 70
people in the process. The international outcry was strong but
short-lived. If the junta is allowed to think that this atrocity can be
forgotten, it may have less hesitation about imprisoning, or even doing
away with, Ms. Suu Kyi. It is vital that she remain on the international
agenda, for her own protection and as a symbol of the people's suffering.
The EU and Asean might hesitate to condemn the SPDC's acts of oppression
and brutality for fear that doing so could harm their economic interests.
But they should wake up to the fact that Burma under its current regime
does not enhance economic development. The junta spends 50% of its budget
on the military and less than 2% on health and education. Burma's refugee
crisis, HIV/AIDS problem and drug trade are a direct result of the SPDC's
policies. It has turned Burma, rich in natural resources, into one of the
world's least developed nations. It reeks of corruption. Dictators do not
make good business partners. A democratic Burma is likely, in the long
run, to be a more stable, and therefore more economically viable, country.
The situation in Burma looks as bleak as ever. But the people's resolve is
far from dead. Earlier this year, the NLD, at great risk, organized a
petition calling for Ms. Suu Kyi's release. Every now and then minor
protests are organized. The ethnic groups' determination to fight for
freedom has not diminished. The people of Burma still have guts. Now the
international community must show some.
Mr. Rogers is a journalist and a human rights activist working for
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in London. He is the author of "A Land
Without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma's Karen People" (Kregel
October 5, The Australian
Poet turned politician gave a rare voice to Burma - Myint Zan
Minthuwun: Poet. Born Kunchangoan, Burma, February10, 1909. Died Rangoon,
August 15, aged 95.
MINTHUWUN was one of Burma's foremost poets of the 20th century. His
literary output spanned 75 years, an achievement without parallel in the
Minthuwun graduated in 1933 from Rangoon University with a bachelor of
arts. He won a scholarship to Oxford University, where he studied
Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan languages and linguistics.
Back in Burma before World War II broke out, he started work on a Burmese
dictionary, a task that lasted 30 years. In 1952 Minthuwun was a visiting
scholar of linguistics at Yale University in the US.
Starting from the early 1930s, Minthuwun, with Zaw Gyi and Theikpan Maung
Wa, spearheaded the khitsan Burmese literary movement -- khitsan means
"testing the age". This movement made a shift from the florid style of
writing that had been the norm in Burmese literature. It was a shift in
style and substance. Instead of dwelling mainly on sentimental, romantic
and religious themes, the poems, essays and short stories written by these
three writers began to cover wider humanistic themes and concerns.
In one of his poems first published in February 1982 (when he was 73)
Minthuwun acknowledged that he was perceived by the Burmese public as a
romantic writer-poet. In one poem he drew attention to when he was growing
up during British colonial rule and many -- especially the rural poor --
were in debt. During the winter season, he wrote, the plague was rampant.
In the dry season cholera regularly ran its course. In the rainy season,
malaria played havoc in the villages.
"Besieged by these multiple troubles, I might have become eccentric. To
allay my mental despair and tiredness, I might have grasped whatever comes
my way," he wrote.
As a human being with foibles, wrote Minthuwun, his explanations for being
a romantic poet might amount to a deception, for which he craved
forgiveness. He exhorted readers to search for the truth for themselves.
Minthuwun was also a marvellous human being in his life and rich
contributions to Burmese literature.
It would be wrong to box in Minthuwun's contributions to Burmese
literature as mainly, or even partly, that of a romantic poet. In January
1938, while studying in England, he wrote a poem that was undoubtedly
political and prophetic. The last lines of the poem include the phrase
"while the rooster crows in the early morning, and the dawn's red rays
appear over the horizon, and the drums are played in triumph, let us
rejoice in the wide fields" (for the independence of Burma).
Ten years to the day after Minthuwun composed the poem, Burma regained
independence on January 4, 1948. The independence ceremony was -- in
accordance with astrological advice -- held just before dawn.
During the ceremonies there was also the ringing of drums as the red rays
of dawn appeared over the horizon.
In 1973, Minthuwun embarked on a Burmese translation of Shakespeare's King
Lear. It took him 10 years before it was published in 1984. It won Burma's
national literary prize.
He served as professor of Burmese language and literature at Rangoon
University in the early '50s and from 1975 to 1979 he was professor of
Burmese at the Institute of Foreign Languages in Osaka, Japan.
Even a romantic poet such as Minthuwun could become entangled in the
political affairs of Burma. In 1971, in a rambling speech at the congress
of the ruling socialist party, chairman and strongman general Ne Win said
that he was not satisfied with the work of the Burmese Dictionary
Commission, including some lecturers in Burmese.
These people, Ne Win said, were like "half-baked loaves of bread" who
thought much of themselves just because they had degrees. Though Minthuwun
was not named in the speech, broadcast nationwide over radio and
reproduced on the front pages of all of Burma's state-controlled
newspapers, it was clear that he was the target. In August that year, Ne
Win apologised to those who were more "learned than him" and "greater in
age and prestige".
Minthuwun was nominated and elected as an MP in May 1990, representing the
main opposition party, the National League for Democracy. However, the
parliament was never convened by the ruling State Law and Order
After Minthuwun was elected, some references to him in the Burmese media
came under scrutiny. Indeed, in July 1995 the now defunct Sarpay Journal
was about to publish a commemorative issue devoted to Minthuwun's literary
works with a photograph of him on the cover. After initial approval was
given to publish, the literary censors withdrew permission.
In a poem Minthuwun composed in November 1961 entitled The Cyclical
Continuity of Regrets, he wrote that "while pining whether and when I will
reach the peaceful bliss in which there will be no regrets, the majestic
sun has gone down and I grope and falter in the dark". Indeed, one of the
great suns of Burmese literature is no more with us but Minthuwun's rich,
majestic and continuing legacy will endure and thrive.
All Burmese literati recognised not only his vision and literary gifts but
also his humility and humanity. Though all of us are impoverished by his
passing, we can take solace in the fact that his life and vision have also
enriched us "as wide asthe sky".
The author is a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific in Vanuatu.
More information about the Burmanet