According to sources close to the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) better known as Mong La group, Burmese officials presented NDAA’s representatives with presents that may have reportedly carried symbolic significance relating to astrology when the two sides met on 9 October meeting in Kengtung, Shan State East.
The said presents were gold colored rings featuring 9 gems in each (a significant number in astrology and numerology), providing enough rings for both members present and not present, said a source from Mongla.
In addition, the government officials also presented gifts of miniature coffins, with small glass bottles inside each.
Burmese government officials have long relied on astrology, fortune telling, and numerology for certain decisions. According to the Lowy Institute for International Policy, government figures have also reportedly been interested in “yadaya” in the past- a ritualistic practice used to prevent disaster and bad luck.
Mong La officials are confused in how to characterize the symbolic gifts they have received. On the one hand, they have found the gifts amusing, as they are generally insignificant child’s toys.
“It was funny; on the other hand it was a disappointing action. How could the diplomats of the government dare to do such foolish act? Everyone was disappointed. Every high ranking officials and even the Chairman (Sai Luen) received the miniature coffins,” the source said.
However, they are also aware that the gifts are symbolic and carry perhaps a more sinister or insulting meaning. Whether the symbolic gesture was meant to send a specific message or simply to confuse and play mind games is yet to be determined. The presentation of ambiguous gifts by government officials in strategic negotiation talks has only served to agitate an already complicated relationship.
19 October 2011 – KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Burma have agreed in principle to exchange detainees, a move that immediately sparked ‘shock’ and concerns among human rights groups.
Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the exchange is aimed at reducing congestion at immigration depots in the country.
Malaysian detention centers are notorious for overcrowding.
He told a news conference after meeting with Burma Deputy Foreign Minister U Maung Myint who is on a three-day official visit to Malaysia.
U Maung Myint said arrangements will soon be made to send Burmese nationals detained at Malaysian immigration depots back to Burma.
This proposal comes on the heels of the abandoned Malaysia-Australia agreement in July to swap asylum-seekers and refugees between the two countries, which was later struck down by the Australian High Court as illegal.
The majority of asylum seekers from Burma on Malaysian soil are ethnic Chins. According to the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC), at least 500 people from different ethnic groups are currently in detention centers, of which around 200 are ethnic Chins. Continue reading “Malaysia and Burma have agreed in principle to exchange detainees”
17 October 2011
The Mekhong may be in crisis following the massacre on 5 October, but plans to promote tourism on the river are going ahead:
- 27-29 November 2011
Mekong Tourism Working Group Meeting, Bagan/Pagan, Myanmar/Burma
- June 2012
Mekong Toursim Forum, Chiangrai, Thailand (SHAN)
- 18 October 2011
Burma and Laos hold Township Border Committee (TBC) meeting at Wanpong, Mongphong tract, Tachilek township, to discuss cooperation against the criminal activities along the river Mekong. Hmong are becoming more prominent in drug production and trade, according to the sources. Meanwhile Wa issued a statement (on 13 October, according to SHAN source) denying involvement in the 5 October killings and offering cooperation in the investigations. (ASTV Manager Online)
19 October 2011
Chinese officials visiting Chiangmai Monday, 17 October, again urged Thailand’s Police Region #5 to speed up investigations so the case of the 5 October massacre on the Mekong could be concluded as soon as possible. The suspended shipping through the Mekong has hurt several hundred laborers in Chiang Saen. “I used to earn between B 200,000-1,000,000 ($ 6,666-33,333) per day before,” say a Thai businesswoman. “But not a satang since.” (SHAN)