A Few Random Thoughts and Suggestions

Maun Kyaa Nyo


First of all, to come to mind is the need to use the term “My­anmese” when referring to our language. I have seen quite a lot of writers in English who use the word “Myanmar” when they mean the country and the people as well as the language. I have even read someone who wrote Myanmarsa in his article. He seems to have noticed the inadequacy of the word Myan­mar when referring to the lan­guage. But ‘sa’ is not English and should not be used; other­wise, it would become Myan­glish as Singaporeans usually use Singlish — a funny mixture of Singaporean and English. That writer should have written “Myanmar language”. But that would have needed two words where one word could do the work if the right term “Myan­mese” was chosen.


Look at some other coun­tries and their languages. When the country is England, its lan­guage is English; people, adjec­tives and language are English. When the country is Japan, its people and language are Japa­nese. Ditto China and Chinese. Country, France – language, French. Enough! enough! Coun­try and language are always dif­ferently spelt. When our coun­try was known as Burma, our language was Burmese. Then, why insist upon using the same word Myanmar for the country and people as well as the lan­guage? Confusion may arise out of the incorrect use of the word Myanmar when the intended meaning is the language. Sup­pose someone is told to write something in Myanmar, it can have two different meanings: one is that, that something has to be written in the country of Myanmar; and the other, in the Myanmar language of the two meanings, the more prominent one is the country. So, the per­son told to do that writing will (more likely than not) under­stand that he/she must write it in the land of Myanmar rather than in its language. This mis­understanding will be the result of using the word Myanmar in­stead of the correct — so far unused-term Myanmese. I dis­cussed the need to use the new word ‘Myanmese’ in the local paper, The Standard Time (San Taw Chein) a few months ago. If the correct term Myanmese had been used in that supposed case, there would have been no confusion at all since the meaning of the request/com­mand would have been as clear as limpid water.


Then come some important misspellings. I have already pointed out one in an online post a few months ago. That misspelling was/is using the word motion picture (without an ‘s’) while referring to all movies/films. A case in point is the ‘Myanmar Motion Picture Organization’. As a rule, the word is spelt pictures (with an ‘s’) at the end because a film/ movie is made up of hundreds of thousands of small individ­ual (but continuous) pictures shown very fast one after the other on the movie screen by a projector. So when all mov­ies/films are meant, the usual spelling is ‘motion pictures’. If only a particular movie/film is meant, the picture is spelt without an ‘s’ as in the case of a statement — ‘That novel has been made into a major motion picture.’ Otherwise, all movies/ films are spelt motion pictures when a dignified term is intend­ed. That’s why I have written in my online post that the title ‘Myanmar Motion Picture Or­ganization’ is misspelt.


Another misspelling I would like to point out is the prefix of the name Maung when refer­ring to a young man or a male student. It is a traditionally accepted spelling, established since Myanmar started to write in English. I see the ‘g’ at the end of the word as superfluous or unnecessary. Leaving it out makes no difference whatsoev­er – either in the sound or the meaning. The spelling ‘Maun’ is enough to indicate the re­quired sound. Why put a ‘g’ at the end unnecessarily involving a waste of the necessary time, effort, space and ink? But that’s a long-established tradition!


The name of a city located on the Taninthayi Coast is also being misspelt as Dawei. Some of the readers may probably know that the combination of two vowels – ei – phonetically indicates the sound ‘ay’ rather than the required sound – ‘ai’ – like in air, chair etc. The city was called Tavoy under Brit­ish rule. Now that it has been Myanmarized, it has unfortu­nately been misspelt as Dawei. The correct, proper spelling is Dawai.


I would like to point out another misspelling — in My­anmese this time. It is not a mis­spelling actually: it is using the same word in translating Pales­tine as well as Palestinians. You can see that the two words are quite different. But the trans­lators here have unanimously used the same Myanmar word ‘pa-let-sa-tain’ for both names. The spelling is all right for the country. But when it comes to the people – Palestinians – the same Myanmar word cannot and should not be used. Obvi­ous, isn’t it? The correct My­anmar word for Palestinians is ‘Paletsataintharmyar, meaning the sons or people of Palestine.


The most important part of this article

Now we come to the par­tial (but, definitely effective) solution to the problem of sky­rocketing prices of everything that’s troubling the whole country, overwhelmingly. The solution is simple enough: just issue rations (free supplies) of staples like rice, cooking oil, beans/pulses, eggs etc. to every government employee (the faster, the better!). As for the non-government citizens, sell them the stales at especially reduced prices. There can be one problem: the threat of some unscrupulous persons queuing up at selling points and selling back their lots to merchants at a profit, creating a ‘tansitoe­sar’/queue-up-sell back-and-eat class of people. To prevent that problem, merchants should be warned in advance not to buy government-issued staples from individuals.


In this way, the sufferings of all government employees numbering in the millions can be reduced to a greater or less­er extent. When millions of government employees are re­lieved of their pain (not totally, of course), the non-government citizens will also receive a cer­tain amount of benefits through the rippling (consequential) ef­fect. But let me remind you of the fact that the problem of ris­ing prices can never be totally solved as it is an everlasting, ongoing process. It can only be solved for a short time.


Regarding this matter, I have written an article for the (now defunct) local newspaper The Voice Daily. When? Being a careless person, I haven’t kept a copy, I can only say that it was more than ten years ago- maybe fifteen or even twenty years.


In that article, I made sev­eral suggestions which I have summarized below.


*The problem of rising or skyrocketing prices cannot be solved by merely increasing the salaries or incomes of gov­ernment employees. It’s only a short-term solution at the best. It is certainly bound to be fol­lowed by inflation as the prices of everything will be raised by greedy merchants and sellers who are always seeking a rea­son to do so.


The title of the article was “How to Suppress Corruption”. So, I made other suggestions too. The three root causes of corruption are (1) need, (2) greed and (3) the red-tape sys­tem. To explain in detail; cor­ruption arises because most of the government employees feel, as we say in Myanmese, ‘Nga-wan-putsa-ma-nay-tha-loh, because my stomach is hot and hungry. A lot of government employees are honest by nature and wouldn’t dream of getting involved in corruption under ordinary circumstances. But when it comes to the three pri­mary needs of life — food, cloth­ing and shelter — not being ful­filled, they, poor guys, have to resort to corruption. There’s no other way of escape for them from immediate hunger. By no means should such people be punished.


This being the case, I sug­gested in my article that their needs should be fulfilled rath­er than punished. How? As I have written above, their needs should be attended to in various ways. They include:


• Selling them the staples at especially reduced prices.


• Enabling them to live in government-owned resi­dences at low rents if not totally free, and to go on liv­ing at low rents after their retirement;


• Allowing them and their family members to travel on state-owned conveyanc­es (buses(if any), trains, ships and aeroplanes) at low rates, if not totally free;


• Selecting totally honest, hard-working and effi­cient employees monthly, half-yearly or yearly, to be prominently praised and given prizes;


By means of the sugges­tions mentioned above, the life quality and honour of being government employees can be enhanced so that most people will come to regard government employment as something to be highly desirable.


After meeting the three fun­damental needs of government workers and raising their worth, we now come to the next step, which is, erasing greed: the second cause of corruption. It can be handled in the following ways.


In bribery and corruption, two parties are involved viz the receivers and the givers. Both of them are guilty. But, of the two, the former (invariably, the peo­ple in power) who, despite earn­ing reasonably enough-more than enough in some cases-, should be punished severely as they do it out of greed. The latter should be spared from punishment, with a warming, as they have been forced by prevailing circumstances to be a party.


There are many other greedy people besides some government employees, most of whom are merchants and retail-sellers always seeking a reason to raise the prices of everything they sell, even at the drop of a hat! Such people should be found out after issu­ing warnings in advance and severely punished.


While greed is being sup­pressed in these ways, the last cause of corruption- the red tape system – should be attend­ed to at the same time. What is the red tape system? Here’s the explanation. As some of the readers probably know, in most offices case files are tied up with red tape, ready to be sent from office to office. As a rule, most cases take a long time to get to the final decision. The red-taped files have to be sent up from the lowest office to the highest, passing several offices on the way, up and down. This is the bottleneck that causes most of the delays in office work. These delays are bad for everyone concerned — business people applying for licences etc. and fi­nally the consumers. Naturally, all applicants are anxious to get their business done as quickly as possible, knowing that the longer the delays, the more expensive their imports and/ or products become. To avoid delays, they have to grease the palms of those in power as the red-taped files from office to office.


To solve the chief part of the problem of skyrocketing prices, the red-tape system ought to be done away with, as much as pos­sible. Most cases and applica­tions shouldn’t be made to pass several offices. In most cases, there should be officials with de­cision-making authority, just a few steps from the lowest office. Time limitations should be fixed for import licences, permits etc. when there’s a rule that certain licenses must be issued in such and such a time — the shorter, the better- the applicants won’t resort to bribery, but wait until the time limit is up. This will go a long way in solving the bribery problem.


Similarly, the problem of trials at law courts taking an unacceptably long time to come to the final decision can be pre­vented or shortened to a great extent by fixing time limits on most cases. One reason for most delays is witnesses failing to come. This can be prevent­ed by making it a compulsory duty on the part of witnesses. They must come without fail­ure. There may be exceptions to this rule.


I would like to conclude this article with a beautiful irony. As most of the readers are aware, our country usually occupies the lowest position or somewhere near it on the list of the least developed countries (LDCs) in Asia. But, wonder of wonders, it almost always tops the list of the most generous nations on earth thanks to a lot of people including artistes like Khant Si Thu and Khine Hninn Way who give generously in lean times like that of COVID-19. Just im­agine one of the LDCs hovering near the bottom topping the list of the most generous nations. What a beautiful irony!


Oh, Myanmar GENEROUSLY! Hallowed Be Thy Name!

PS! I almost forgot to men­tion the most important part of my suggestion which is none other than increasing the production of the staples and many other required things. In accord with the law of supply and demand, when supply rises, demand is bound to fall, bring­ing down the prices of related things. In short, promoting the production of necessary things is a long-term but surefire way of solving the skyrocketing price problem.