M Y A N M A R   |   2012 - 2013

 

I didn’t stay in Myanmar for long, but it was a time of great promise and perceived change. Obama came in 2012, the first visit of a sitting U.S. president. Hope was everywhere. Beneath the surface, however, many things remained the same. What happened in Myanmar was not a revolution.
I was there when AP opened the first foreign news bureau in Myanmar.

Our stories about the consequences of the country’s 2011 political transition won a National Headliner award. My reporting showed how tycoons close to the ruling junta stood to profit most from economic opening and helped reveal the inconsistency of U.S. sanctions.


 
 

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Zaw Zaw, one of Myanmar's most successful and notorious businessmen, likes to pick his way at odd hours around the hulking skeleton of his new hotel, rising beside Yangon's main airport road. The 366-room Novotel holds a storyof how one man, who remembers being too poor to afford a soccer ball, built an empire by befriending the military government in what was one of....


YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — If you're American and want to do business in Myanmar, there's a list of people and companies you have to steer clear of by law. But it leaves off a former minister's son U.S. officials suspected of brokering arms deals with North Korea, and high-rolling relatives of the man...




YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – They have seen how the troubles start from the smallest things. They have seen the police powerless before mobs fired with religious zeal and armed with bricks and swords. They have seen on TV and in newspapers...


MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) –  Wrapped in a saffron robe, Buddhist monk Wirathu insists he is a man of peace. Never mind his nine years in prison for inciting deadly violence against Muslims.Never mind the gruesome photos outside his office of Buddhists allegedly massacred by Muslims. Never mind that in the new Myanmar, the man dubbed the "Burmese bin Laden" has emerged as the spiritual...


YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - The soldiers began to shoot students at Rangoon University at 6:30 p.m. Hla Shwe watched, cowering in a nearby building, as his friends died. "I heard the shouting," he recalled. "They shot whoever they saw." It was July 7, 1962, the day rage at the military's recent coup boiled over and a date now seared into the memory of Hla Shwe, who is 75 years old. "I got the idea that if....


YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - It is a party dominated by a single strong leader. Top positions are made by appointment. Decision-making is quiet and circumscribed. That party is not Myanmar's ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, which grew out of decades of military dictatorship. It is the National League for Democracy, led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and currently the...


Freedom brings new challenges for Myanmar writers

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Poet Saw Wai parked himself on the lawn, unfurled a map of Myanmar with a blob of blood-red paint dripping down from a spot up north and invited people to make poetry with him. "He's calling for more trouble," said a passerby. What the message lacked in subtlety it made up for in brazenness. Government forces have been pounding ethnic rebels in Myanmar's northern Kachin state...

 

REPORTING FROM MYANMAR

Everyone said Myanmar would be a place ambered in time. In some ways it was: Most people didn’t have mobile phones (they were still too expensive). The highway connecting Yangon and Naypyitaw, the capital, was a long white road with nothing on it. No billboards. No traffic. A single gas station that I can remember on the whole 370-kilometer trip.

There were many signs of a boom. Rents were astronomical. Preschools for foreign kids had long waiting lists. I learned that Kipling really overstated the charms of Mandalay and I encountered ethnic hatred unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

But the parks were beautiful. Shwedagon Pagoda was golden and magical. I saw white elephants. Aung Sang Suu Kyi was still heroic. It was historic, you could feel it even then.


BOOK ABOUT BURMA I LOVED

- The River of Lost footsteps:    
   
Histories of Burma
   Thant Myint-U (2006)

- From the Land of Green
   Ghosts

   Pascal Khoo Thwe (2002)

- Burma Chronicles
  
Guy Delisle (2007)
  Loved this graphic novel.

- The Lady and the Peacock
   
The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi
   Peter Popham (2011)

- Letters from Burma
  Aung San Suu Kyi (2010)

- The Glass Palace
  Amitav Ghosh (2000)
  Beautiful history.

- Burmese Days
  George Orwell (1934)