One early day of August 1995, a small group of elder scholars, academicians, practitioners, administrators, economists, jurists, and educationists, all intellectuals by any count, quietly met and deliberated on presenting Myanmar to the world through the written media from a kaleidoscope of angles and sectors in the English language. The articles written by native scholars aimed to provide the readers not only with authentic first-hand accounts of rich cultural heritage and thereby convey the true spirit of Myanmar in its highest form of literary endowment, but also introduce the pristine Buddhist teachings of Lord Gautama Buddha, mild moral ethics of the Myanmar the land and its multi-ethnic society.
This pioneer Editorial Board was formed with Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt, a well-known History Professor & historian as Chief Editor, and included U Than Htut, U San Lwin, U Htin Gyi, U Ba Than, Dr. Thaw Khaung and Daw Kyi Kyi Hla as members. All of them are proven intellectuals in their own professions with high proficiency in the English language. Later Dr. Sei Tu, U Ba Thwin, U Kyaw Win (Culture), U Win Pe joined the elite group. All have contributed articles of high quality as a hobby, sharing valuable experiences at home and abroad so that readers may enjoy diverse aspects of literature, a veritable armchair travelogue.
The Myanmar Perspectives was intended to have a wide coverage of Myanmar in the world stage. Thus it was launched in two ways: a monthly INTERNET presentation where many articles contributed at random by writers were delivered regularly on the subscribed monthly webpage. They were then sifted corresponding to a wide range of activities and interests comprised under various headings as follows:
- Current events
- Nation building
- The Economy
- Culture highlights
- Tourist Column
- Attractions and Delights
- Myanmar Superlatives etc.
Some articles meriting special interest were added to highlight their interest.
The first monthly INTERNET was published around September 1995. The first Myanmar Perspectives magazine, a small book of mere 42 pages made its debut in October 1995. It was graced with 20 articles. The cover photo represented the ancient wooden monastery “Shwe-In-Pin” situated at Mandalay. Innwa Book Store situated in downtown Yangon was the main distribution centre. To enable the publishers have as wide a coverage as possible, the copies were also distributed through various accredited Myanmar embassies abroad, regularly every three months. The comments on webpage were monitored every month which displayed increased number of visitors, who spoke on wide spectrum of issues concerning Myanmar and the world.
Many native writers of national fame and international renown each, with proven experience and knowledge, in their own professional calling and flair, voluntarily contributed to make their magazine an invaluable collection for casual reading as well as ready reference for study and research. Allow me to mention with pride some of the contributors namely: U Win Pe (Mya Zin), Shan elder scholar Sai Aung Tun, KT Aye, U Kyaw Win (Culture), U Kyaw Win (Labour), U Aung Myint, U Hla Thein, U Ba Thwin, Daw Yin Yin Lay and etc. Then there were many equally illustrious personalities, who, in one way or the other made this magazine a prize possession. What is noteworthy was that these writers were all retirees but still active in their scholarly domain, continuing to share what they know in this ever challenging knowledge age.
The magazine format was also attractive, bound in art paper and wood free stationery. Each quarterly issue represented the current topic as a cover story, with equally attractive illustration “photo or artistic drawing” presented by top photographers and famous artists.
In addition country tours were arranged in the open season every year, where the Editorial Board members could study and observe at first hand, a moving panorama of events and changes. The tours covered specific neighboring border towns of adjacent countries such as Kawthaung-Ranong, Myawaddy-Maesod, Maong-lar, Muse-Kyaigaung, Myitkyina, Moekaung, Hpakant, Sittwe, etc. It also studied ancient Kingdoms of world heritage value such as Beikthano, Hanlin and Srekittra. These tours provided enlightening insight and grass-roots knowledge of updated information of knowledge for articles, poems, essays both for the Internet and the magazines. There was freedom of expressions as the doyen writers and poets delved into the literary and current events. Thus the Internet and the Magazine had established a vibrant hold on the reading public as a qualitative publication in the literary market. Credit needs to be given to one and all, who have contributed so much with goodwill and dedication, so that the world will see Myanmar as a delightful place to visit, a good theme for study and research, and a good opportunity for business and social activities.
By 2004 Myanmar Perspectives could modestly proclaim as already published over 100 monthly internet issues 35 quarterly magazines. These collections offered priceless treasure trove of articles and poems, touching almost every aspect there was to know about Myanmar. It provided a neat collective work of ready informal reference for students, researchers, scholars, writers and journalists, giving them a valuable lead for further in-depth research and presentation. Its quality was proven as all write-up came from firsthand sources.
These members of the Editorial Board were in their own personal calling, authors of a number of books hitting the best sellers’ list, like Dr. Khin Mg Nyunt, Dr. Thaw Kaung, Daw Kyi Kyi Hla, U Win Pe (Poet Mya Zin), U Ba Than, U Hla Thein, U Sai Aung Tun, U Htin Gyi, to name just a few. They were indeed trial-blazers, setting examples for future generations-intellectuals, scholars and writers, to carry on their literary mantle in continuity and perpetuity.
In his lifetime mission, the author mused on the literary odyssey where magazines come and go. He remembered English Dailies and monthly magazines such as the Guardian daily news and the Guardian monthly magazine, the longest serving magazine in the news world. Then came the Nation, the Burman, the Working Peoples’ Daily, The Open Mined (OM), the Spectrum, the Myanmar Perspectives and lastly the New Light of Myanmar. During their heyday they played their roles well, informing, educating, entertaining readers in a variety of ways. Then when their time is up they just fade into oblivion, leaving fond memories in the minds of readers.
In this context the author, a poetry lover remembered Shakespeare (1564-1616) and his sonnet: “ All the World’s A Stage ”, where he composed about men and women being merely players having their exits and entrances, as one man in his lifetime plays many parts.” Again he contemplated upon the Persian Poet-Omar Khayyam and his famous quatrain, “the Rubaiyat” (made popular by the English translation of Fitzgerald (1800-1833), where this verse bewitched his mind thus:
Tis all a ChequerBoard of nights and days;
Where Destiny, with men for Pieces plays.
Hither and thither moves and mates and slays.
And one by one back in the Closet lays.
As the author had said, these literary works and their authors played their parts well while on stage and eventually faded into history, leaving lasting impressions on the living, while they lived.
In like manner the Myanmar Perspectives,after having served the readers for nine years has now ended, as Khayyam has said:
Alas that Spring should vanish with the Rose,
That Spring’s Sweet scented manuscript should close.
However in the eastern literary horizon there is a new dawn, a new wind of change, a momentous happening and a new wave of great expectation. On September 2014, the “Global New Light of Myanmar” will make its debut with a new presentation for wider coverage.
The author, a regular writer since for decades since the days of the Guardian, the Working Peoples’ Daily and the ageing New Light of Myanmar warmly sends his auspicious greetings on this gala inauguration and tenders his blessings to bring joy to the new generation of readers in this era of change.
Again in his passionate poetic mood, the author likes to end this article with the famous rhyming couplets of the classical poem “The Brook” composed by Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) thus:
I chatterchatter as I flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.