When the central character in the 1998 movie Enemy of the State feigns ignorance about what’s happening, his good-guy sidekick explodes and shouts, “You’re either very smart – or incredibly stupid.” It’s a line that resonates these days when seeking to understand many of the world’s political leaders and especially those in Southeast Asia.
This magical music – Kyaw Kyaw Naing’s hsaing, U Ba Htay’s hne, U Tin Yi’s tayaw and Myanmar slide guitarist Man Yar Pyae U Tin – carried clues to understanding the particular, the un-global latitude and longitude of Burmese character and art.
Many people around the world are probably wondering why Hillary Clinton – who is obviously more prepared and better suited for the American presidency than her opponent, Donald Trump – isn’t waltzing to victory. Many Americans share the world’s bewilderment.
Nagaland is a hill state in northeast India that attracts a multitude of tourists and visitors to the annual Hornbill Festival for its vibrant colours, textiles, dances and cuisines. However, this cultural representation hides another vibrant reality in the state – an economy based on coal mining and hydrocarbon speculation that dominates Naga politics and highlights the ongoing economic transformation occurring on the frontiers of northeast India.
While I support Dr Wakar Uddin’s warm welcome for Kofi Annan’s commission (The Myanmar Times issue September 21) and especially his recommendation to the commission that they should “strategically review the history of the people of Rakhine State”, it is an unfortunate fact that this history is a matter of deep controversy among scholars, whatever their nationality, ethnicity or religion. The prospects of harmonising these “parallel universes” are remote. The best hope is that all parties can agree to disagree.
Two weeks ago the Obama administration declared that it will drop all remaining economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar. Since 1997, when the sanctions were established as a response to the gross human rights abuses being committed by the country’s ruling junta, they have prevented any tangible trade between the two countries. But is lifting the sanctions the right thing to do?
Imagine an entirely plausible scenario for the effects of climate change in 2045. The Greenland ice sheet has melted entirely, adding 20 feet to the oceans. Unprecedented outbreaks of pests have ruined crops of corn, wheat and rice around the world, causing food shortages and riots. In the US, the army patrols major cities.
I’ve recently returned from Rakhine State. There to cover the first visit by Kofi Annan and the other members of the Rakhine Advisory Commission to the troubled region, I stayed on to speak to people in a number of communities about their current concerns. There was no shortage of issues to look into.
Myanmar is in a critical period where the direction of the power sector can provide revolutionary inclusive sustainable growth, or become a crippling anchor keeping the economy submerged under rising tides.