Burmese Daze

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back at the Blog

OK. It's been 10 months since I posted anything. It's not that nothing has happened here since the government crushed the monks and the protestors; I just really lost the stomach for it. Then came Cyclone Nargis and the government's craven, larcenous, callous response to it and I got very upset and depressed at the whole situation.

Now, however, with a bit of perspective and time to heal psychic wounds, I think it's time for me to start posting again. Today is a good day to start, as Ibrahim Gambari has returned for yet another session of futile diplomacy with the kleptocratic generals. I hold out no hopes for anything meaningful to come from this, but at least they're talking. It seems like a pointless game, in which the Burmese government holds all the cards; what leverage does the UN have here? On the bright side, though, the Internet hasn't gone down the way it usually does when Gambari is in town. There are rumours that Aung San Suu Kyi has been allowed to see both her doctor and her party's lawyers this past week, as the generals make nice for public consumption and for Gambari.

It's amazing how little has changed in the past year; this time last year, the fuel-price-increase demonstrations were just taking shape, a few brave souls here and there defying the government and complaining about the skyrocketing price of compressed natural gas, diesel and gasoline. Now the prices are substantially higher, not just for fuel but also for basic food, and wages certainly haven't kept pace. People are much harder off this year than they were last year, but this time around they don't dare protest.

Meanwhile the government spends its money on a big new expressway to Naypyidaw from Rangoon that's so poorly built that a few rainy seasons seem destined to consign it back to the red laterite mud from which it rises.

More later; I just want to get this out there to re-start my blogging habits.