Tag: Myanmar

On the road to Mandalay?

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

What are the ethical issues involved in visiting a country whose government has been accused of committing atrocities against its own people? We’re not talking China here, although its persecution of the Uighurs is outrageous. Then, there’s Myanmar.

In 2016, ten international travel companies offered sailings on the Irrawaddy, which flows north to south through the heart of Myanmar, from its source in the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. The cruises were running at close to full capacity but the boom didn’t last long. Unrest involving a Muslim-minority group, the Rohingya, erupted in a region called Rakhine and more than 500,000 Rohingya have since fled to neighbouring Bangladesh. Terms such as “ethnic cleansing” were used to describe the alleged atrocities committed by Myanmar’s military and the country became a political pariah. As for the Burmese people, they’re said to among the most welcoming in Asia and street crime is almost non-existent in Myanmar. Each traveller must make in informed decision before visiting Myanmar, or China, for that matter.


Marx and Mass and Moguls and Myanmar

Tuesday, 18 August, 2015 0 Comments

When he was a hard-left Labour activist and a militant atheist, the young(er) Tim Stanley saw life as a class struggle and believed that salvation could only come through revolution. That was then. And now? In the Catholic Herald, the historian and journalist explains his epiphany in “Why I became a Catholic“. Snippet:

“I’ve abandoned Marxism (a whole other complicated story) in part because I’ve realised that you can’t save this world by trying to tell others what to do. Politics is impotent compared to a kind word or a helping hand. Not that I’ve become a saint over the past 10 years — on the contrary, I’m more conscious of my failings. When you become a Catholic you find lots of new ways of feeling guilty.”

Citizen Hollywood: How the Collaboration Between LA and DC Revolutionized American Politics is the title of Tim Stanley’s latest book. In it, he argues that the film industry has “helped to forge a culture that is obsessed with celebrity and spectacle.” George Clooney and Matt Damon may be big at the box office but this does not make them experts on domestic or international affairs.

Stanley’s analysis of the West Wing phenomenon is funny and frightening. The series is “a Bible for liberal reformers the world over”, he says, pointing out its writers “are all former Capitol Hill staff, many of Obama’s staff are huge fans, and the character of Matt Santos was actually based on Obama when he was still an unknown Illinois politician.” Most terrifying of all, however, is the fact that when Myanmar (Burma) was transitioning from military rule, “its new government learned how to run a democracy by watching West Wing DVDs.” General elections are scheduled for Burma on 8 November, but the Wall Street Journal has spotted clouds on the horizon: “Myanmar Military Strengthens Grip Over Ruling Party as Election Nears” it reported recently. Looks like the West Wing did not unduly impress the colonels.