- By Khin Yadanar
There is no easy way out for the new generation to have access to the most renown first Myanmar novel namely “Maung Yin Maung and Ma Me Ma” by James Hla Kyaw despite its legendary success of the past in the country.
Reflecting Myanma chronicle, culture and status, the Myanmar literature stands tall with dignity and grandeur stage by stage throughout the eras in the country. Especially, the Myanmar classical literature instills the youth with historical information, things to abide and avoid, and also inspired with patriotism and perfect citizenry.
The Printing and Publishing Department, under the Ministry of Information, has been performing the tasks of printing works of literary development for the public especially for the youth with 100 Myanmar classic book series.
In the first step forward, the 100 Myanmar classic book series was launched with the Myanmar long novels such as that of “Maung Yin Maung an Ma Me Ma” by James Hla Kyaw and that of “Love story of veggie seller Maung Hmaing and Ma Aye Khin” by Wun Sayai U Gyee, during the tenure of new government.
The Printing and Publishing Department in line with the given and embedded name is carrying out the printing and publishing task. The department has been performing the tasks of printing works of literature development, the State Gazettes, text books for basic education schools which are commissioned by the Ministry of Education, works commissioned by governmental departments and private enterprises, and ballots commissioned by Union Election Commission.
Sarpay Beikman or world of books
The tasks for the Myanmar literature development have been undertaken consistently by the Sarpay Beikman. Established since 1948, the organization is functioning well for the development of literature, enhancing the writing dignity, the Myanmar National Literature Awards are presented every year.
They are for the best works published in the previous year in each category as determined by a selection committee from Sarpay Beikman (“Palace of Literature”), a division of the Ministry of Information that is concerned with promoting books in Myanmar and other national languages.
Sarpay Beikman also gives the Sarpay Beikman Manuscript Awards for unpublished works that are submitted in manuscript. In recent years the genres covered by Sarpay Beikman Manuscript and National Literary Awards have been gradually extended and the number of awards increased. The mission included the eye opening of the public, the social development and progress, all based on the human resources development.
Launching of the 100 Myanmar classic book series
In the volume one, the long Myanmar classic novels were printed, and the second volume rolled out with the novels of the “Shwe Pyi Soe” by U Latt; the “Yadanarbon” by Shwe U Daung; and the “Htar Wa Ra Myittar” (Eternal Love) also known as “BA Maung Ba Lwin” by BA Maung Ba Than.
Depicting in the third volume consisted of the “Nay Yee Yee” by Saya P. Monin; the “Ta Nann Pyaw Yin Twe Daw” by U Latt; and the “Hmar Daw Bon” by Thakin Kodaw Hmaing.
The three volumes successfully hit the stand on 3 December 2018.
Selection and Awarding literatures
In 2016, the Sarpay Beikman had selected all (13) genres and bestowed (26) awards. Out of (292) manuscripts, the selections had been made in three stages by (28) literary experts and professionals, attaching the awards with cash of Myanmar kyat 700,000 for first prize; Myanmar kyat 500,000 for second prize; and Myanmar kyat 300,000 for third prize.
Except political genre and English language genre, the year 2017 had selected (11) categories and awarded (25) prizes by (28) experts, who have the term of two-year. The cash awards were tagged with Myanmar kyat 10, 00,000; MMK 700,000; and MMK 500,000 for the first, second and third prizes.
On behalf of the Ministry of Information, the Sarpay Beikman has constituted (77) members National Literature Award Selection Committee since 2016, which saw the resignation of (12) experts, and the remaining (65) professionals continued the selection tasks.
A total of (966) books rolled out in 2016, and that they were divided into (16) categories for scrutiny, and (10) genres were bestowed with awards, in conjunction with three recipients of the Lifetime Achievement for National Literary Award. The cash awards attached were Myanmar kyat 25, 00, 000 for lifetime achievement; MMK 15, 00,000 for National Literature Award.
In 2017, the Sarpay Beikman constituted the National Literature Award Selection Committee with (65) professionals, and later (2) members resigned from the body, leaving (63) members for the selection tasks.
The award on poems had been streamlined by considering both the normal poem and the modern poem, and confirmed for awarding one genre of poem. Moreover, award on essay and award on reference literature have been created and bestowed, and therefore, (18) genres have been confirmed for the new list.
In 2017, total of (891) books have been serialized into (18) categories and that (11) genres were awarded, with three recipients of lifetime achievement of literature. Price tag for lifetime achievement was Myanmar kyat five million for lifetime achievement, and Myanmar kyat 25, 00,000 for national literature award.
Rejuvenation of Myanma Encyclopedia
Volume 1 of the Myanmar Encyclopedia was published in 1954, more than 60 years ago. It took 24 more years, until 1977, to complete the publication of all 15 volumes.
Recently in 2017, a new updated version of the encyclopedia is underway to be published, thanks to the joint efforts of Sarpay Beikman (Literature House), the Ministry of Information, the Tun Foundation, experts and professional writers, translators and editors. The volume one is already set to print for the esteemed readers and that the Printing and Publishing Department has the great privilege and honor in this job.
Cooperation and coordination is underway among the experts such as Sarpay Beikman Editorial Team, professionals and computer personnel of Tun Foundation to complete the task in time.
On 26 August 2017, a commemoration ceremony on the 70 th Anniversary of the establishment of Sarpay Beikman was successfully held and a commemorative book was launched.
Enlightening the public
The Shwe Thway Journal with the target audience of pre-primary students and primary students has been issued every Saturdays, and that special issues were released in 2016; eve of Golden Anniversary special issue in 2018, and Golden Anniversary issue, marking achievement of milestones for future generation.
The weekly issue of Thuta Padetha Journal is primarily meant and focus on the youth , and that the translation pieces were compiled and printed once a month, adding with the special issue in 2017 in commemoration of 70 Anniversary of Sarpay Beikman.
The translation books namely “Leadership Secrets” by Hillary Clinton; “Important of being active citizen”; “Path to the stars”; and the “Asian Youth” have been printed and distributed by the Sarpay Beikman.
At the same time, in collaboration with the philanthropic team named “Shanti”, the translation competitions have been conducted and that the first prize winning translation was being printed. Moreover, the book entitled “Friends Around the World” has been printed and distributed to the libraries of Information and Public Relations Department across the country.
Over the years, more books numbering about (100) different types were being printed and distributed such as the People’s Guide; Sarpay Beikman manuscripts; Pakokku Award winning books; and introducing new writers to the literature worlds of Myanmar.
Public Library of Sarpay Beikman
The public library of Sarpay Beikman was established in 1950, and all sorts of books suitable to all different ages are being provided for the motley assortment of readers. The library is perfectly fit for the ordinary readers as well as the researchers.
Currently, the library is providing services to readers including normal readers, researchers, and freelance. Moreover, there is reference library, the modern library, and the children library for the advantages of the kids in engaging reading, storytelling competition, and assorted debates of contests.
New pathway for literature
The Sarpay Beikman is moving ahead with the instruction of the Ministry of Information in lending hand for the development of literature circle in organizing events that of the paper reading session, the book bazaar, and the seminar on literature.
During 2019, the round table discussions are held at the Head Office of the Printing and Publishing Department involving the persons that won the national literature awards with a view in turning a new chapter as literature festival. It is resulted with the valuable advantage of assessment and evaluation in the literature circle how and why the books were being awarded with the national literature titles.
During 2016-2017 period, the paper reading sessions on political matters, on contemporary history, on translation experiences, with added momentum of book bazaar events in the seasons of summer, winter and monsoon periods.
For the convenience of the book lovers, and to boost the culture of book bazaar events, the open space in between Anawrahta Road and Maha Bandoola Road in Botahtaung Township has been designated as Book Avenue and allocated book stalls in cooperation with the Myanmar Publishers and Distributors Association.
The book stalls temporarily closed down only during monsoon season, and the book bazaar is buzzing and swinging in all the other seasons offering the book lovers and book worms to easily pick up the books that they really wanted for at a single venue.
Sarpay Beikman Book Center
The spacious Sarpay Beikman Book Center is selling all sorts of books printed from (14) government publishing houses and (697) private book publishers. For easy access of all books by the enthusiastic readers and the general public, more improvement and reforms are being carried by the ministry during the incumbent.
The Sarpay Beikman Book Club has been established (58) years ago, and that during the time of the new government more members enrolled themselves due to better reform with (676) members in Yangon and (365) members from various townships.
Printing materials from government as well as schools
Annually, the Printing and Publishing Department has been undertaking all the tasks of printing being entrusted by the Ministry of Education such as that of basic education school text books with quality assurances in time.
The statistics showed that 2016-2017 academic year have been filled with school book printing order memo forms with (19.232) million; that the 2017-2018 academic year with (17.109) million memo forms; that the 2018-2019 academic year with (35.025) million memo forms.
With regards to the official record books, the printing tasks included such as that of the official development records of Rakhine State during one year period; that of the first report to the public in connection with the advice on Rakhine State; that of the Record on Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panglong (First); that of the Record on Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panglong (Second); that of the Record on the Process of Democracy Transition of Myanmar; that of the Record for the People on the first (100) days of the government; that of the Record for the People on the first year implementation; that of the Record for the People on the second year implementation; that of the Record on all round development of the youth; that of the Record on the Central Tasks on National Reconciliation and Peace Center; that of the Record on the signing of NCA; and that of all other tasks being assigned to print on.
The tasks also include the timely printing of ballots for by-elections in 2017 and by-election of 2018 for the whole country being entrusted by the Union Election Commission.
Future Encyclopedia and classic series of books
The compilation and reviving of Myanma Encyclopedia is an enormous task to be implemented on long term and sustainable basis which include the Myanmar alphabet such as (KA); and (KHA); and then (GA) moving stage by stage until last alphabet (AR). The volume (One) of Myanma Encyclopedia is now in the finishing touch stage, and that the first volume would be delivered into the hands of the esteemed readers in neat, tidy and presentable form without hitches and glitches.
The Ministry of Information is carrying out to publish 100 Myanmar Book Series in order to promote Myanmar Literature. The first three volumes have already published and about 1000 books have been sold out so far.
Determined for the development of literature sector
In today’s modern atmosphere, the general public has difficulties in finding time to read each book individually, and therefore, the new government has innovated and expanded paper reading sessions and literature seminars across the country with a view to impart knowledge, information and share taste in literature. It is also on the agenda in organizing paper reading sessions and seminars in the context of contemporary literature.
Plans for the upcoming year
On weekly, monthly and yearly basis, the Printing and Publishing Department has been undertaking the onerous tasks in printing quality products on time such as that of orders entrusted by the government departments and the private sectors, that of the official records on state ceremonies; that of the ballots for the multi-party democracy general elections; that of the ballots to elect members of Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC); that of printing tasks entrusted by the Ministry of Education on basic education school text books through the order forms of (40) millions for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 educational year; and that of the determination in catering printing services for the state and the people.
Blue plaque building
The Yangon Heritage Trust has added a symbolic blue plaque to its seventh city landmark on the century-old, still-working Central Press on Thein Phyu Road. It was Yangon Central Jail last (130) years ago, transformed into printing establishment by the government.
The building, which has been in continuous use since 1912, officially joined six other historically significant edifices in Yangon in sporting the heritage markers in August 2015. Although the blue plaque does not afford buildings legal protection, it does signify their importance and tell their stories to the public in Myanmar.
Once the silent and deserted legendary building locked up with dozen of padlocks on the Theinbyu Road has become the oasis of literature standing tall in grandeur dazzling with noises with that of book lovers; that of literature discussions; and that of book bazaars.
In conclusion, the writer of this article would like to submit the message to the esteemed readers that the Printing and Publishing Department is moving ahead to compile and present historical data and information, with pride and honor, for the benefit of the people and future generations. It is a venue where the glory of Myanmar literature would be shining in the days ahead with momentous future tasks at the prestigious establishment.
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)