By Chitt Naing [Seik Pyin Nya]
A Profile of
Saya Maung Myint Kywe
SAYA Maung Myint Kywe [1934-2014] is widely known among readers as a prolific writer. He is widely read, and his writings are diversified. Additionally, he is a great trans-lator, having won the national literary award in the translation genre. Before joining the Min-istry of Information, he served with the General Administration Department in his capacities as the Township Officer and the Sub-Divisional Officer. Although his main duties were concerned with the administration and man-agement during serving with the Ministry of Information, he spent his leisure hours, writing short stories, cartoons and articles in addition to the translation of Eng-lish novels into Myanmar. He is a journalist, writer and translator. He has also been the secretary and executive committee mem-ber at the Myanmar Writers’ As-sociation.
Maung Myint Kywe is my teacher and mentor from whom I have learnt a lot. Although I have been contributing articles to the periodicals since 1984, I am not integrated into the Yangon liter-ature community, thus having no close friends or contacts. Only when I was assigned in1995 to the Myawaddy Press to publish magazines, journals, books and novels in my various capacities as the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Editor and Publisher, I was in daily contact with the editors, writers, cartoonists, artists and poets, who were introduced to me by my predecessor U Myint Kywe in the latter’s capacity as the Chief Editor. Then only did they become familiar to me, who could match their names with their pen names.
A soldier who did not know who is who in the field of litera-ture and the culture and/or be-haviour of the writers but who had been trying his pen, contributing articles to the magazines for a decade, thus having followers who had a taste for his articles numbering more than 500. De-spite being a writer, the editing, proofreading, page layout, print-ing and publishing etc., were quite strange to him. This being so, he had to learn these things from Saya Maung Myint Kywe and Saya Maung Hla Kywe, the senior edi-tors who were patient enough to be his mentors, closely overseeing his activities in addition to impart-ing their knowledge daily.
This soldier turned journalist is nobody but me, who is obedient and humble in pursuit of journal-ism. In July of 1995, I was intro-duced to the staff of Myawaddy Press with a welcoming ceremo-ny at which I demonstrated my humbleness, saying, “Despite being a prolific writer and widely read man, I have no experience in this field of printing and pub-lishing. Teach me, and correct me should there be any fallacy and discrepancy. I am ready, willing and prepared to learn from you all regardless of your position”. Within six months, I was able to learn things in all sectors thanks to the exertion of strenuous effort day and night.
To express the gratitude I owed to my first teacher, I decid-ed to write an article about Saya Maung Myint Kywe. To honour one’s teacher is the duty of a dis-ciple. In fact, the business of pub-lishing is different from routine office activities with the former requiring close cooperation with fellow workers and staying under the same roof as family members. Two and a half years have seen Saya and me eating together and sipping the tea together while discussing or arguing tirelessly, sometimes bursting into laughter. We are both teetotalers but chain smokers. But we were both able to drop the habit of smoking.
He set a high value on his work, and he practised punctuali-ty. Additionally, he always exerted his utmost effort in the perfor-mance of the duties assigned to him. These are the things I have learnt from him. Saya is an able and good-hearted person. We have been to many towns big and small to deliver literary talks. Although Saya Maung Hsu Shin and Ludu U Hla were more than a match for Saya Maung Myint Kywe in delivering the literary talks, Saya Maung Myint Kywe has a good sense of humour. His Cetana (goodwill) is reflected in the message he gives to the au-dience. During our trips across the country, he was found to be goodhearted, broadminded and possessed with a sacrificing spirit. He was never seen to be fussy with the food and accommodation. He was contented with the pot-luck and not choosy with the place of staying. He was never seen to have bothered the people around him. Regarding his family life, he has formed a great attachment to his better half and the kids with his family leading a peaceful and quiet life. In addition to the domestic trips, we have been abroad to-gether. During our 15-day goodwill visit to the People’s Republic of China, we were accompanied by Daw Kyu Kyu Thin, the great writ-er. Myanmar writers’ delegations were mostly sent to Kunming, Beijing and Shanghai. This was my third trip to these areas. Then, I was the youngest member of the delegation, and being the most active and experienced, I was appointed the delegation leader. [but there may be another reason for my appointment as the leader. As I was the only person in civil service because the elderly writ-ers were the retired service per-sonnel, I had become the leader.] Anyway, I was able to have led the delegation successfully as I had been twice there. We were also provided with a chance to also vis-it far north China, where we were sent to an ancient city. Although the host arranged air travel, I re-quested the responsible persons to make arrangements for land trips so that we can stop over at the towns en route to exchange views with the local Chinese writers. Another reason for my request was to have a sightsee-ing chance. They acceded to our request and arranged a train ride.
We had a good time, exchang-ing views with the Chinese writ-ers from Kunming and Shang-hai. During the discussions, Saya Maung Myint Kywe and Sayama Kyu Kyu Thin won the admiration and respect of the Chinese writ-ers. Indeed, they can be said to have promoted the image of our country. Saya Maung Myint Kywe, my mentor cum fellow worker, has translated the following seven great novels into the Myanmar language: Money Changers by Arthur Hailey in August 1978; Oil by Jonathan Black in June 1980; Ride the Golden Tiger by Jona-than Black in May 1981; Strong Medicine by Arthur Hailey in July 1987; The Carnage Merchants by Jonathan Black in March 1989; Fatal Cure by Robin Cook in April 2004; and The Diamond Hunters by Wilbur Smith in January 2013.
It is a great wonder how Saya has, in his sixties, translated nov-els of 600-700 pages. Such a her-culean task could not have been accomplished if Saya does not have Cetana to give the message given by the world-famous writ-ers. His success is evident in his translated books being published more than three or four times.
Although I have intended to write a synopsis for all seven novels, which are best sellers, for the readers to be able to taste and enjoy the novels as well as to imitate the way the world-famous writers compose their novels, the newspaper has space scarcity. Therefore, I would like to make my humblest apology to the read-ers of this article for my inability to write a synopsis for the novels.
In addition to the translation of great novels, he has also trans-lated books on leadership and management. His translations are perfect because he has wide experience in the field of leader-ship and management in which he has been involved in various capacities as the Chief Editor, Publisher, Manager, Head of Of-fice and Permanent Secretary.
In a nutshell, he can write or translate well. So, I would like to urge the readers to taste and enjoy his writings.