|KAO WAO NEWS No.
An electronic newsletter for
social justice and freedom in Burma
December 1-20, 2003
WARY OF NMSP'S INVITE TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
OPPOSE THE JUNTA'S ROAD MAP
AGE: BURMA STANDS ALONE
OBSTACLES TO ICT
REVIVED TO PUNISH DISSIDENTS
ASSAULTED AND RAPED BY LANDLORD
POPPIES BLOSSOM IN
THE NORTH AGAIN
SHOULD WE FORGET
ANNAN PRESSES BURMA TO
WORK ON DEMOCRACY
We invite comments and suggestions on improvements to Kao-Woo
newsletter. With your help, we hope that Kao-Woo News will
continue to grow to serve better the needs of those seeking
social justice in Burma. And we hope that it will become an
important forum for discussion and debate and help readers
to keep abreast of issues and news. Above all, we hope the
newsletter will be used as a vehicle for those who want to
share their views and experiences. We reserve the right to
edit and reject articles without prior notification. You can
use a pseudonym but we encourage you to include your full
name and address.
Congratulations on your 2nd anniversary!
We are well informed by Kao Wao news especially Mon issues.
I am really proud of Kao Wao that as Mon group, this channel
can make a loud voice and share the information to other sources.
Min Thura Wynn (Toronto, Canada)
Myaingkalay cement factory damages Mon cultural site
Dear Kao Wao,
Regarding the Myaingkalay cement factory near Paon, as well
as the serious human rights and environmental concerns which
you mention, the factory is also having a devastating affect
on an important, but not well-known, Mon cultural treasure.
The factory is situated close to the Kawgun Cave, on the West
bank of the Salween (Thanlwin) River. Early every evening
the nearby quarry is blasted with dynamite, to extract materials
for the factory. The blasting can be heard & felt in Pa'an
town (the first time I experienced this, I thought it was
the Tatmadaw shelling the KNLA!).
More alarming, the discharge causes substantial vibrations
and damage at the cave. Artifacts at the Kawgun Cave date
from the Pyu era, and the site has been a centre of religious
devotion ever since. It consists of a long corridor-like fissure
in the rock, which runs along the base of a huge limestone
outcrop, semi-open to the sky & elements. This opens out
into a small cave, with Buddha images. Like other Buddhist
sites in lower Burma, the cave and associated structures are
incredibly beautiful, and possess an air of great spirituality,
and age-old religious and cultural significance. The Kawgun
Cave is particularly noted for its thousands of magnificent
(16-18th century?) terracotta plaques, which decorate the
walls, to a height of up to 30 meters. These are often extraordinarily
well-crafted and beautiful, and include many Buddha images,
as well as episodes in Mon sacred and civil history (e.g.
one group of large plaques depicts King Manuha of Thaton).
If this were Thailand, the cave would be a source of national
pride, protected by the government, and promoted as a site
for religious merit-making and tourism. However, this being
Burma, the cave has been neglected. Until recently, this may
have been a good thing, as the site's charm has not been eroded
by over-exposure: there are no stalls selling trinkets or
However, the daily blasting at the nearby Myaingkalay cement
has caused many hundreds of plaques to be dislodged or otherwise
damaged (also, as insurgency raged over this part of Burma
in the 1940-70s, historically important elephant figures and
other pieces were looted). Unless the blasting stops or the
damage is alleviated, I worry that this wonderful religious
and cultural site will be damaged beyond repair.
On Kanbawza Win's Are the Burmese People Fit for Democracy?
Kanbawza Win's _expression seems too extreme though part
of it is the reality of the double impact of the military
regime's 4 decade long impressive-human-mind-programming.
The nature of the human being is attached with certain bad
or negative attributes that cultivate bad behaviors that are
not necessary or needed to express publicly. For example,
all intelligent adults may know what a person does inside
a restroom but it is not necessary to tell everyone about
The important thing to keep in mind is that we ourselves
are susceptible to doing bad and necessary political evils,
even though we claim in having and following the best policy
for the good of the most. So, if the negative aspect of our
activity beyond our control offends someone, it is important
(our selves) not to be offended by his or her _expression
of such in-depth feeling. If we believe in self-perfection
and self-glory, we may make the same or similar mistake many
people have done.
For any democratic lover/activist to have political tolerance
toward dissents and ability to work together even with the
people who are impressed by our weakness or negative aspect
of our activity is essential. And this must be one of our
most important differences from those of the regime leaders'
political practices. To value other's ideas, opinions, and
feelings is an essential leadership quality for our needed
political and historical challenge.
What we do may be singled out as good as what others do or
even better. But when someone evaluates the whole scenario,
there could be a potential aspect that our overall performances
are not that good for the overall progress of political change.
"Good" is not enough but for the "best"
we all struggle. It is good to remember what Hudson Taylor
once said, "Good is the enemy of the best." Everybody
has at least some idea what he or she thinks is good but only
a few people possess the capacity to comprehend the Best.
So, when we are doing what we think is good, a simple good,
lets also remember the potential existence of the best for
which we all should struggle to in order to reach the end
goal, not just spreading ourselves around the means.
I'd like to respond to Kanbawza Win's article and to clarify
KNU's position on the current political situation. As he mentioned
the SPDC is using its same old tactic of divide and conquer
as another form of deception to divide all opposition groups.
We all know SPDC's strategy. SPDC started its major offensive
against KNU and others opposition groups when Daw Aung San
Su Kyi was released and trapped in another deception of confidence
building secret talks. The objective of SPDC was to divide
the ethnic nationals and DASSK by creating rumors of secret
talks. After over a year of phony confidence building, DASSK
realized it to be another phony confidence building tactic
and consequently proceeded with her favorite action of mass
campaign against the SPDC supported by NLD party and thousands
of civilians. Unfortunately it led to the Depeyin incident
and DASSK ended up in house arrest again.
On November 22, 2003, SPDC's delegate colonel Sann Pwint
went to Maesot and approached KNU leaders and stated that
there would be no precondition to restart peace talks between
KNU and SPDC. However, he mentioned that the meeting must
be inside Burma only and refused to meet in other countries.
Padoh Mahn Sha, the secretary of KNU clearly stated that
KNU will not buy into the road map for democracy and a national
convention prepared by SPDC due to lack of honesty, sincerity
and the fact that it is without DASSK. Furthermore, KNU today
does not stand alone, but closely works with other opposition
alliances of democracy for Burma as well as the National Democratic
Front. KNU clearly understands the SPDC's strategies of divide
and conquer and its random attacks against the NLD parties
led by DASSK and other democratic opposition groups including
NDF and DAB.
I understand professor Win's concerns and appreciate his
article. We will not be defeated unless we surrender by ourselves.
Therefore, please continue our struggle to reach our objective
of democracy and federal union without any confusion or misunderstanding.
KNU will not abandon the DEMOCRACY BOAT until we reach our
Merry X'mas and Happy New Year to you all,
Mahn Kyaw Swe (Canada)