Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why your country has two names II

“I know that you will fail. There is something in the universe – I don’t know, some spirit, some principle – that you will never overcome”

“Do you believe in God, Winston?”


“Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?”

“I don’t know. The spirit of Man.

“And do you consider yourself a man?”


“If you are a man, Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone? You are outside history, you are non-existent.”

(O’ Brien to Winston in Nineteen Eighty Four)

This is the answer, Nyimalay. This is the answer why our country has two names. This is not that innocent as most people think. This is not that trivial as most people discount. They have to terminate the last man in Burma. For they have to control everything.

Men who control the present will control the past. Men who control the past will control the future. History has to be rewritten. Human memory has to be set extinct. Burma is outside the history. Burma has never been existent before.

During the Peasant Uprising of Burma between 1930 and 1932, a group of the young, yet immature Burmese radicals emerged as the Dobama Asi-ayon (We Burmans Association).

Their first challenge against the British was a tipping point all over Burma:

“Bama is our country.” ဗမာျပည္သည္ ဒို႕ျပည္

“Bama is our literature” ဗမာစာသည္ ဒိုို႔စာ

“Bama is our language.” ဗမာစကားသည္ ဒို႕စကား

N.B: They both hailed and wrote Bama and not Myanmar.

This firebrand slogan was the forerunner of the rising of many last men in Burma that the British annexed as a barbarian country with the Medieval savage, Bahein, Baswe, Nu and Aung San.

These young Burmese radicals despised the soft technique and cooperative mentality of the Burmese coalition government. Of course, they knew that in the formal written language, the speaking usage “Bama” has to be written as “Myanmar”. Highly-spirited with the bold revolution of Saya San’s peasant uprising, they didn’t like the soft and long tone of Myanmar. What they envisioned was a shortcut and sharp change of Burma. So they chose to intentionally kick out the soft tone words in their party name and the aforementioned their party slogan. The word with soft and humbling tone To (တို့) was set to a sharp cut and teeth flinching word Do (ဒို႔). The frail and long ending sound Myanmar (ျမန္မာ) was also intentonally set to Bama (ဗမာ) that was a normal daily speaking voice of ordinary Burmese. (Takhin Lay Maung: Political History of Burma) Be aware that Burmese literature at that time was like a slave who had been set free just a week ago when We Bumans association was first established. During many long years of the reign of Burmese monarchs, almost all Burmese literature was swamp with those tiring accolades of the great Karma of these Burmese dictators, hiding the reality how the poor and oppressed faced their encumbered lives daily. One of the co-founders of We Burmans Association, Takhin Ba Thaung, was also one of the first and foremost people, who initiated to change the style of Burmese literature into a prosaic writing fashion that was understandable to common Burmese. So the title of their organization was both written and called as ဒို႔ဗမာအစည္းအရုံး which they thought not only as a symbolic change for modernity of Burmese but they also deemed it necessary for "a voice of sharp clarion call" for people at the grass-root level, for showing that the association was all together with the poor, and for reflecting the fighting spirit of Burmans’ nationality towards freedom and utopia.

From the beginning, the choice of Burmese for a call of change was Bama and not Myanmar. This is the indelible history of Burmese revolution that the military regime wanted to eliminate. Let’s see what Dr Maung Maung wrote in his last breath book, The 1988 uprising in Burma.

After the vocal and articulate lawyers, came the kind and concerned doctors. They didn’t invoke the name of the statutory Burma Medical Council, but chose to go by their own Burma Medical Association in their address to the people, the foreign embassies, and the broadcasting stations abroad, among others, that having become the standard circulation.

I received phone calls from friends and doctors about an incident (actually the worst mistake of Ne Win’s government in crushing the 1988 uprising), which happened in front of Rangoon General Hospital. Some patrolling troops had sprayed a burst of fire on nurses and doctors (who were wearing white uniforms) who had gone out of the hospital compound holding banners.(actually a white flag for their responsible noble medical spirit of saving the injured who were being shot, begging the soldiers to stop killing the people)

This was the watershed of our 88’ revolution, Nyi Ma Lay. Ne Win’s military regime believed that they had terminated all the civil societies of Burma since 1969. They never had imagined that the people, who only knew how to hold a syringe and a small surgical knife, would become the last counter blow against their powerful army government.

The entry of Burma Medical Association into this 88’ uprising brought the whole country to people’s revolution in 1988.

In 1989, when the regime renamed Burma as Myanmar, most people thought that this could probably be astrological manipulation to eliminate the collective bad Karma of the country. For a Burmese, it is quite typical to believe that changing his or her name could eliminate portentous Karma coming to individuals. So they took it as granted. What they didn’t notice was that along with the change of the country’s name, the names of many roads and many cities in Burma were also changed. If the change was typically for the change of collective Karma of people, changing as a whole into Myanmar was simply enough. Their target was not only at Burma, but also at Rangoon especially Rangoon General Hospital, and at last but not the least Burma Medical Association as well. The historical Rangoon General Hospital (RGH) became Yangon General Hospital (YGH). Burma Medical Association (BMA), a strong terminology of great threat to Burma Independence Army (BIA), had to concede to change their organization title as Myanmar Medical Association (MMA).

Maymyo, a beautiful town of respite of British officers became Pyin Oo Lwin. Fraser Street in Rangoon became Anawyatha, the name of the monarch that the regime used in their late propaganda machine. The regime vindicated their change as their nationalistic attempt to remove long overdue colonial tags. But there was a deep-rooted motive you could now recognize. The generals are rewriting the history. By changing the names, the historical places disappear from the maps, and eventually, from human memory. Then, the memory of the past events will be erased. (Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkins)

He who controls the present will control the past. He who controls the past will control the future. Rangoon has never been existent. Rangoon General Hospital has never been on the map of Rangoon. Then there never has been any exemplary of gross injustice arising from military dictatorship. Burmese apparently had forgotten what they had been badly treated as before and now have already approved the constitution, hoping that there will be some change in the future.

In their debate in the torture chamber of Room 101, Winston had made a Cartesian argument. “I remember, therefore I exist”. O Brien smiled and retorted, “I control memory, and therefore your existence”. O Brien claimed that men were malleable, and infinitely as such. The Burmese didn’t notice that their thinking, their daily life, and their individualism were mould infinitely by such wicked strategy of the military government rendering Burmese into complete serfdom of collectivism, and begetting a series of Burmese generations that never have a chance for thinking about what he stands for. A Burmese youth had no choice but to accept his race and country as Myanmar that has never existed in maps and the history. And any Burmese youth today became as nothing beyond what the social order chooses to instill. Yet, Buddhists in Burma is talking about their Karma as bad luck. The problem is CHOICE, Nyima Lay. Nothing else.

Related post: The Middle Way


Aye Mya Eain said...

i can't believe the change of 88 uprising was coming from doctors.
we just know students and Daw Su led it.Thank you for this chance for knowing history

Albany Denizen said...

Great, Burma kin. Let's me tell you what I think.

Foolish tyranny of Oceania is guarded by self-deceptive, ferocious yet delusional inner party members.

Witless dictatorship of Burma is guarded by sheeplike apparatchiki of the army.They call Than Shwe "Big Pa Pa".Cruelty of O'Brien enticed Winston get in love with Big Brother.After facing cruelty of fascist-founded military training,these coward military servants have never loved their Big Pa Pa master than before.This is the fundamental psychology how the Burmese military is tied in total servitude to absolute despotism.

Anonymous said...

hey all,

the psychology of myanma military officers is only one, just they are children and they all love their pa pa.just is.

ကုိဖိုးတရုတ္ said...

Today, we necessary to know the history of our country. As your invitation, I was going to visit and read the post on your blog and that has a good idea to inspire our brain. I encourage to carry on.