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The New Light of Myanmar

Some choice quotes from “The New Light of Myanmar”, the goverment newspaper

The People’s Desire-
Oppose those relying on external elements, acting as stooges, holding negative views
Crush all internal and external destructive elements as the common enemy

TV Myanmar
4.00pm Martial Song
4.15pm Songs to uphold national spirit
4.30pm English for everyday use

A big country rich in resource- timber, gems, minerals, fish and agricultural products- Burma is
ruled by a sickening military “goverment”. Freedom of speech is nil, corruption massive. Hypocrisy and outrageous lies fill the newspapers, tv and billboards: “Defense Services Acadamy- Triumphant Elite of the Future”. Having been in power since 1961 the generals are secure with China as their main ally and little internal opposition.

So a horrible sad atmosphere. People quickly change the subject of politics back to football and Cindy Crawford. I met two friends, one an NLD politician who was sure he would be imprisoned soon, the other wanted to be a policeman. These are the choices- join the system where bribery equals oppression, or jail.

Buddhism is a handy tool of the government. “Many pagodas with golden tops, but many hungry bellies all around”. People are so devout and give so much money in roadblocks where Monks MC on microphones. This life may be shit but give enough and the next one might be
better. Keeps the people quiet and controlled. And as for the generals, no matter how heinous their sins, build some pagodas and all is forgiven.

But these massive golden stupas make lovely tourist attractions. The scenery is flat and plain, but the culture is unifluenced by the west. Men all wear long sarongs, the women paint their faces yellow. Indian, Nepali, Bangladeshi mix with Burmese and minority tribes. Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist churches abound. I even met a Jehova witness (“Oh Sir, not many of us! Christian brains more advanced! Here empty brain, empty brain).

I travelled on claptrap train over 100-year old viaducts, built by the British. 1940 vintage buses
rattle over trembling bridges from the same era. Women fill the potholes and child soldiers load the train. An overnight boat wound through the massive Irrawaddy River delta, packed with people and onions. Beside the main roads a sandy ox cart trail, children cry and chase the bus for food, and hawkers flock at stops.

For dinner 20 tiny plates filled with oily curries, green tea leaf salad and fried dried fish. Teashops are great to sip a hot cup of condensed milk and snack. Icecream bars provide incredible strawberry milkshakes to prepare for the next days bus epic. Pickup trucks are even worse, loaded so high the front wheels are floating.

What the future holds noone knows, or wants to think about. I dont think much wil change- the generals get richer and purge themselves regularly. By visiting as a tourist I gave a little foreign cash to the evil generals, sure. But thats nothing compared to their real business- fleecing the country of every resource possible. A sad place indeed.

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