Tuesday, April 2, 2013

ဂူဂယ္လ္ ဥကၠ႒၊ အဲရစ္ ရွမစ္ ရဲ႕ ျမန္မာ့အင္တာနက္ မွတ္ခ်က္

“အႏွစ္ ၆ဝ ၾကာ ႏႈတ္ပိတ္တိတ္ဆိတ္ေနခဲ့ရာကေန လူေတြက အရင္ဆံုးၾကားရတာကို သူမ်ားေတြကိုသိေစေအာင္ ရတဲ့ေနရာကေန ေက်ာက္ခ်ထားသလိုလုပ္ေပးႏိုင္စြမ္း (အင္ကာရင္း) ျဖစ္စဥ္ေၾကာင့္ သူတို႔ရဲ႕စိတ္ဝင္စားမႈေတြကို မီးလွ်ံလိုျဖစ္ေစအာင္ (အင္တာနက္) ကို အသံုးျပဳလာႏိုင္ၾကမယ္၊ ဒါမွမဟုတ္ ျမန္မာလူမ်ိဳးေတြရဲ႕ လိုအပ္မြန္ျမတ္လွတဲ့ စိတ္ထားေတြက လႊမ္းမိုးလာမယ္၊ ေနာက္ျပီး အေျပာင္းအလဲၾကီးက ထင္တာထက္ ပုိျပီးေခ်ာေမြ႔မလားဆိုတာကို စဥ္းစားႏိုင္ပါတယ္။ ဒီအတြက္ အင္ယားကန္ေဘးက အရည္အေသြး ထူးျခားလွတဲ့ အမ်ိဳးသမီး၊ ေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္ အေပၚမွာ အမ်ားၾကီး မူတည္ပါလိမ့္မယ္။” (အဲရစ္ ရွမစ္၊ ဂူဂယ္လ္ ဥကၠ႒)

"Without the Internet, our children will be blind, as we are." -- from an opposition leader, jailed for 18 months by the Generals

Myanmar (Burma).. a country of two different worlds. Tourist Burma is a terrific place of Buddhism with a local culture undisturbed in fifty years. Kingdoms from a thousand years ago built cities of pagodas, monuments and the rural world of the past. Helpful people, calm and friendly wearing colorful clothes, local and great food, and a sense of uniqueness very hard to find in the world. A giddy feeling that something is happening in the air, as its all happened in the last year. That's Tourist Burma.

Country of Myanmar coexists with Tourist Burma but seems radically different when you arrive. Over the last few decades a strong military has run the country, been isolated for it, and ruthlessly maintained power up to and including killings of monks, suppression of dissent, and thumbing their noses to the international community. This was a country of no political speech, no mobile phones, no banking system to speak of, run by the military. Two years ago, for reasons unclear, the government transitioned power to a former General, who promptly released political prisoners, opened up the country to contact, and the West returned the favor with opening up diplomatic relations and limiting the sanctions that were in place.

A mobile phone costs $1000 / year and doesn't really work anyway, and a tiny number of the 60m Burmese have Internet access. There is no data service on their mobile network and no international roaming (another benefit for the foreign tourist on vacation?). Myanmar is one of the last countries to get connected to the Internet, and it will not be a smooth path.

Last week for example, everyone was surprised to see the ruling President and former general sat on a balcony reviewing the military parades with Aung San Suu Kyi, universally known as "The Lady", who was under effective house arrest for fifteen years by the Generals. In a private conversation with her you hear real courage and determination from a woman who deserves all the praise and accolades the world has given her. With a clear mind and a perfect British accent, she understands the need to modernize quickly and adopt the Internet, modern banking, and the other international standards. Prohibited by the constitution from running right now (she has foreign born children, a clause put in explicitly to block her), she has to collaborate with her former captors to change the constitution to allow her presidency by 2014. This constitution, for example, guarantees a minimum of 25% of seats of the parliament to the military.

About five years ago, after a dreadful conflict where many monks were killed by the army, the government decided to move to a former military base five hours drive away from the capital, Naypyidaw. As first time visitors, the overwhelming sight is of twenty lane empty highways in a capital with immense modern luxury government buildings, full of marble and immense paintings and chandeliers. Its hard to reconcile the Tourist Burma, extraordinary poverty of the country and kindness of her citizens with the palaces of the government. As I left the country I wondered what The Lady must privately think of this capital, and what she will do to bring prosperity to an isolated country that desperately needs it.

What will happen when the Internet arrives in Myanmar? As the police state has withdrawn, always present religious tensions have erupted with burning of homes and some murders. With popular support, the government then responded with the Army to restore order. In the same way, we are entering a dangerous period for the Internet in Myanmar. What happens when a religious group falsely claims damages from others.. will the Army be sent in too? The country cannot even agree on a press freedoms law for the newspapers, and freedom of political speech is a one year old concept. Because of the phenomenon of "anchoring," where people believe the first thing they hear and anchor from that point, will the Internet be used to inflame special interests after sixty years of silence, or will the essential good nature of Burmese citizen prevail and will the transition be smoother than many think? Much of this will depend on the extraordinary "Lady of the Lake", Aung San Suu Kyi.

Eric Schmidt https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EricSchmidt/posts/JoSc51K9F71
Google's Eric Schmidt warns of 'dangerous period for the internet' in Burma http://www.theverge.com/2013/4/1/4170242/google-eric-schmidt-warns-burma-internet-dangerous-period