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Planet Burma - Calendar 1998/1999
Britain-Burma Society
Regular meetings are at: the Medical Society of London, 11 Chandos Street, LONDON W.1.
Admission is £5.00 per person from November 1998..
Meetings are confined to members and their guests - and are subject to reporting restrictions.
NB - Click HERE for some non-Society coming events in the UK.
1997
1998
Thu 6th February John Okell
"Burma Revisited"*
Our Chairman, John Okell, used slides taken on his recent visit to Burma to judge the extent of changes in the past few years.
Tue 3rd February Professor R.H. Taylor*
"Reflections on 50 Years of the Burmese State"
This special talk marked the 50th anniversary of Burma's Independence, on 4th January 1948. Professor Robert Taylor, author of "The State in Burma", looked at how the Burmese government has fared in its endeavours over the past 50 years; and took this opportunity to reflect on the nation's past, present and future.
Ohn-no Kaukswe was generously contributed by U Bala Zeyya and Moira.
Tue 11th March 1997 Video from Yves Rodrigue:
"Burma's Fantastic Supernatural World"*
Yves Rodrigue, a former French Ambassador to Burma, produced this fascinating study of Burmese nats. which was projected onto the big screen and given a real-time English commentary by Martin Morland - aided by Jenny.
Tue 10th March Richard Packard
People and Eyes in Burma Today*

Richard Packard is Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Prince Charles Eye Unit, Windsor, and talked of his three visits to Burma in the last year.
Burma is estimated to have 350-450 thousand people blind with cataracts and only 70 to 80 eye surgeons to treat them. In this talk he showed how small-incision surgery could be used to increase the number of patients treated, and improve end-results. In this type of procedure the cataract is fragmented by ultrasonics, before being sucked out of a tiny hole.
Sunday 27th April 1997
Thingyan Pwe
Took place from 7 p.m. till midnight in the Kennedy Hall at Cecil Sharp House. Ceremonial water spraying was led by the Society's Patron, the Myanmar Ambassador, U Win Aung.
The programme included Burmese food and dancing, a raffle and a disco. See separate report.
Anniversary Luncheon

To celebrate the Society's 40th Anniversary - and Burma's 50th
12.15 to 2.30 on Saturday 25th April
at the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch.

£20.00 for members and their guests only.
Tickets from Hon Secretary.
Thu 8th May 1997 Dr Roger Webber
"A New Approach to Malaria Control
in Shan State"*
Dr Webber, who is senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has been investigating the prospects for malaria control in the Lashio area of Shan state, using mosquito netting impregnated with pyrethroids.
Health work in the area is complicated by drug running (and addiction), and the strong chemicals used in nearby gold mining.
The talk will be illustrated with colour transparencies.
Tue 5th May Anna Allott
Burmese Short Stories Today -
A Window on Burmese Life*

There is an enormous market for short stories in Burma - and they often provide insights in depth into the ordinary concerns of Burmese people.

Anna Allott looked at some prize-winning stories in the light of her recent visit to Burma.

Wed 11th June 1997 AGM followed by
Maureen Baird-Murray
"A World Overturned"
To coincide with the appearance of her book in the shops - the author reflected on that long-ago world of Burma before and during the war.
See separate report - which also covers the inauguration of a new President for the Society.
Thu 11th June 1998 AGM followed by
Alexandra Green:
"Paintings of the Jataka Stories
In an Upper Burma Temple"*
Alexandra Green has been studying the magnificent murals at Laung U Hmaw temple, outside Sagaing on the road to Monywa. She will tell some of the Jataka stories and discuss their place in the world of reincarnation and samsara, with the aid of a wealth of slides.
(Click on small picture to see full mural)
Monday 14th July 1997 Maureen Aung Thwin
"The Burma Project"
The Burma Project of the Open Society Institute is funded by millionaire idealist George Soros. Maureen, its Director, said that some $1.8m per year is spent on Burmese activities outside Burma - to establish ethnic identity, give information and education, and promote basic freedoms. She demonstrated some of the wealth of Burmese activity that can be found on the Internet.
Sunday 13th September
Britain-Burma Society Summer Boat Trip
100 members and their guests were greeted with a rare patch of warm weather as they cruised up and down the Thames in the m.v. Salamander. With a large percentage of Burmese people aboard, it was perhaps inevitable that many tried their hand at Burmese song and dance - to the delight of all present.
Thu 2nd October 1997
The October Reception (see report)

Marking, also, the 40th anniversary of the Britain Burma Society (founded on 15th October 1957).

Celebrations included Burmese food, a dance by Hnin Kay Thwe, recollections of the old days, and a full performance of the Britain Burma Society Song of Welcome - composed in 1961, and led by accomplished harpist U Ne Wa and many others.

Thu 1st October 1998
The October Reception
This meeting, which also launched the Society's new book, Lines from a Shining Land, broke all attendance records. The guest of honour was Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
After a Burmese dance by Hnin Kay Thwe, passages from the book were read out by re-creations of some of the 33 authors - including 3 grand daughters at just the same age as the originals had been. The authors themselves sat back and enjoyed the show with everyone else. The compere - who was himself an author as well as reader - was our President, Sir Nicholas Fenn.
Tue 4th November, 1997: Dr Thant Myint-U

"The Fate of the Burmese Royal Family' *
The last Burmese Royal house has 10,000 living descendants, said Dr Thant Myint-U - but that is quite a small number.He went on to place the royal family in the context of 19th Century Burma - a very different land from today, with hereditary classes and occupations. He traced through the story of the last few reigns - and of Thibaw and Supayalat after their exile to Ratanagiri in India, a very wet town where they tried to keep up a royal lifestyle on a limited income, and where both their daughters made marriages that they deemed unsuitable.
Thu 12th November, 1998: Ralph Isaacs
"Simply the Best - Inscriptions on Burmese Lacquerware" Inscriptions offer insights into the culture and beliefs of the lacquerware's makers, shopkeepers and owners - including those who donated it to monasteries. After 1900, lacquer masters' signatures were increasingly in evidence. Ralph Isaacs, a former - and very successful - British Council representative in Rangoon, has been putting together a major exhibition next year at the British Museum.
Wednesday 17th December, 1997 by Robert Lemkin

"Who REALLY Killed Aung San?"

In July 1947, Burma's independence hero was gunned down. A political rival, U Saw was to blame - but was he given encouragement by British elements opposed to their government's policy? That was what Rob Lemkin's TV programme had examined in July; and he went over evidence that pointed to possible involvement by a British group, the "Friends of the Burma Hill Peoples". The talk was followed by a passionate debate on the historical evidence and the facts of the case.
NB - the debate goes on!

Thursday 10th December, 1998
by Dr Desmond Kelly and ZoŽ Young

"Out Near the Western Rim"

Desmond Kelly left Burma as a small child, ahead of the advancing Japanese in 1942. Recently he returned to the Chin Hills where he was born - and on this occasion, showed slides of his recent trip up the Chindwin to Kalewa.

ZoŽ Young had spent 9 months even further west than Desmond Kelly - she was helping villagers in Buthidaung, near the Bangladesh border. This was an area from which villagers had fled to Bangladesh in 1991, and to which they had later been repatriated again. But her own priority was to help the villagers' lives. "My passion is latrines", she declared - and gave a wealth of detail on how these could best be built, to prevent disease.

* Members who missed this talk can get a digest of the content by sending SAE to the hon secretary Derek Brooke-Wavell at: 40, Kidmore Road, Caversham Heights, READING RG4 7LU, Berkshire, UK - or email D.Wavell@ntlworld.com Last Year's Calendar.
DATES FOR 1999: 2 Feb, 11 March, 4 May, 9 June.