OBSERVATIONS OF BURMA; ECONOMIC AND OTHERWISE
Don R. Conlan
President (Retired) and former Chief Economist
The Capital Group Companies, Inc.
The mise en scéne is best set by a few quotes from an excellent book The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma by Thant Myint-U, the grandson of U Thant, the beloved former Secretary General of the U. N.:
(Morning: 19 July, 1947): “Aung San’s Executive Council - the interim government - was made up of many, if not all, of the country’s most promising new leaders. The Council...decided to meet at the Secretariat...The Secretariat is today surrounded by a high wall as well as an outer fence...but in 1947 there was no real protective barrier...the car that sped in...carrying men in army fatigues...was unchallenged by the sentries on duty. Three of them, armed with Sten guns, then raced up one of the stairways...opening fire immediately. Aung San...was shot first with a volley in the chest...Only three of those in the room survived. Aung San was dead.”
CRISES FOR THE IRRAWADDY DOLPHIN
Written by William Bleisch, PhD
Photography by Henley Leong
Mandalay and the Ayeyawaddy River
As we finished our first interview, in Myitkangyi Village, we asked for any news of dolphin mortality.The village head and other informants responded that one female dolphin about 4.5 feet in length had been killed in Jan. 2013. He went on to say another had been killed in May near Yallin Village. I moaned and put down my pen, but he was not finished. Another dolphin, 2 and a half feet long, so almost surely a calf, was killed in August in Tha Yat Bin. And another… By the time he was done, he had listed a total of five killings, all in 2013, including two calves. All five had been electrocuted, killed by electrofishing.
ROUNDABOUT ORCHID ISLAND
Wong How Man
“I’d like a window seat,” I demanded to the agent as I checked in for my flight. “Every seat is a window seat,” the agent snapped back. Soon I walked out to the tarmac where a small plane was parked waiting. It was a well-used plane, a Dornier 228, something I knew familiarly as STOL, meaning Short Take Off and Landing type of airplane. Narrow as the plane was, indeed all 19 seats had a window next to the passenger. I’ve only flown private jet with such configuration.
As the twin propellers revved up, I could hear the high-pitch engine noise next to me and some small forward jerks. The pilots must have kept the brakes on hard, waiting for the right moment to release it. Momentarily the plane pulled off with a bigger jerk, and shortly thereafter we were airborne. Out the east coast of Taiwan, the intermittent clouds were hanging low. I was told this entire month had seen rain, all the way from Taipei to the coast here in Taitung. For the last two days before I took my flight, no plane left the airfield for the islands due to bad weather condition. The sun must be shining on my behalf just as I arrived.
WILD DIVINITIES AND WILD LANDSCAPES
My quest for the indigenous “wild” divinities of explicit “nature conservation” began in August 1999 next to the Upper Yangtze, in Bengda County, Sichuan Province.
It was triggered by the assertion of a Khampa farmer;
“If we take care of the local forest and animals Jo Bo will be happy and bless our community. If not he will be angry and our crops will fail, our livestock will die and we will suffer”
The farmer went on to describe the role of Jo Bo, the resources and villages he presided over and the geospatial extent of the domain he inhabited. I was surprised that the farmer spoke of a divinity being happy and blessing the community, but I realised immediately that he was describing an animistic phenomenon1.