Disgrace to democracy
Thanks to Richard Cockett for his incisive article on Burma, its declining reputation on the world stage(with all that entails) and Aung San Suu Kyi’s trashed status as a democratic presence (‘Loss of face, loss of faith’, October issue).The country is descending ever further into a militant ‘Buddhistocracy’ – just recently several thousand anti-Muslim, pro-military Buddhists marched through Yangonholding aloft portraits of Gen. Min Aung Hlaing as if he were some kind of hero, when in fact he has been referred by the UN to the International Criminal Court on what could be charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during his crackdown against the Rohingyas.
While I fully support everyone’s right to speak out and protest aboutall and any issues – in this case the UN’s so-called interference in Burmese matters –surely this must apply equally to all citizens, including the journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe, whose mere reporting on a massacre of Rohingya Muslims earned them prison sentences. Aung San Suu Kyi’s insistence on remaining tight-lipped on the treatment of the Rohingyas, and on supporting the imprisonment of those who challenge it, is an utter disgrace to the principles she once espoused. There was time when she represented a ray of hope for Burma – now, shame on her.
The marvel that was Manto
It was nice to see another feature on Indian culture in your magazine (‘Manto: the man, the movie’, October),and all more so as it was on the late, great Saadat Hasan Manto and Nandita Das’s wonderful film about him. I went to see it whilst in India and, as well as being most entertaining, it is fitting tribute to this gifted but pained writer. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is excellent in the title role as this deep film explores ideas of boundaries – India and Pakistan, home and exile, us and them.
Temper the dragon
It is refreshing to see efforts being made by smaller Asian nations to stand up to the Chinese juggernaut (‘Davids versus Goliath’, Humphrey Hawksley, October issue) but, as Mr Hawksley points out, the ‘Quad’ security conceptdoes risk being seen as a creation of another global hegemon, the US. Still, if China learns some valuable lessons about adopting a more positive role in the Indo-Pacific, so much the better.
Loved and missed
I liked Ajit Sat-Bhambra’s piece about Dilbagh Chana in Asian Affairs’ October edition (‘Gone but not forgotten’). I feel sad when I read about familiar faces disappearing. Dilbagh was a good friend and a lovable individual. He had been active in the community for so long that it is unimaginable to perceive Southall without him. I personally had a very long association with him. In the seventies, I used to be an insurance agent of an insurance company which Dilbagh was also associated with, though he was more interested in me because of my writings and eventually my broadcasting. He was a frequent caller on my discussion programme on Sunrise Radio, and was able to debate political and social issues very well. The community will miss him dearly.