Comics and Cartoons (Nov. 2005)
National Workshop on Copyright (Sep. 2005)
Background and Current Movement of Copyright (Sep. 2005)
Literary Succession of a Myanmar Family (July 2005)
Myanmar Publishing Scene in 2004 (May 2005)
Dr. Tin Shwe Book Award Winners (Mar. 2005)
Poet 'Zaw Gyi' Memorial Prizes (Feb. 2005)
Book on Environment Receives Annual Literary Prize (Feb. 2004)
Birth Centenary of Writer 'Yan Aung' (Jun. 2004)
Writers' Day Book Fair (Jun. 2004)
Rural Library Movement (November 2004)
Veteran Writer Wins Top Myanmar Literary Award (November 2004)
Exhibition to Mark 200th Book of Centurion Publishing House
National Literary Awards (March 2003)
National Literary Awards for 2001 (December 2002)
Sayawun Tin Shwe Literary Awards (December 2002)
Third Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association Conference (September 2002)
Oo Po Kyar Commemorative Library (June 2002)
South East Asia Write Award Winner Honoured (October 2001)
Literature for the Blind (September 2001)
Women's Day Annual (June 2001)
Literature Prizes on Anti-Drug Abuse Day (June 2001)
Annual National Literary Awards (February 2001)
Seminar on Development of Intellectual Property Rights
The National Seminar on Copyright and Related Rights in the Creative Industries jointly organized by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA) was held in Yangon, on 16 and 17 May 2006. It focused on disseminating an awareness of copyright and related rights in Myanmar.
On behalf of the Minister for Information Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan, Director General of Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) U Khin Maung Htay gave an opening address stressing the need to reserve the rights in the creative industries including literary, movie, music, traditional arts and photography fields. Chairman of MWJA, U Hla Myaing and Mr. Jorgen Blomqvist, Director of WIPO Law Division joined in the ceremony with their respective speeches. U Myaing stressed that individuals and organizations are to understand the rules and regulations for intellectual property rights and to carry out the tasks related to the rights in the interest of social, cultural and economic sectors in the country.
At the first day session, Mr. Blomqvist from WIPO and Mr. Paul Wee, Copyright Licensing and Administration Society of Singapore (CLASS) read out papers on different aspects of copyright such as "Basic Notions of Copyright and Related Rights including its International Framework of Protection". "Copyright and Related Rights Protection in Myanmar", "Taking Art as a Profession: Between Lifetime Passion and Practical Difficulties", and other papers, were contributed by Myanmar resource persons.
Writers, editors and translators and members of, MWJA, Myanmar Motion Picture Association, Myanmar Music Association, and other organizations participated.
The second day session focused on copyright and related rights in the publishing, music and film industries.
Mr. Imamura of Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) read his paper on "The Structure and Dynamics of the Music Industry". "The Role of Reproduction Rights Organizations, Important Issues Relating to the Collection and Distribution of Royalties". was read by Mr. Wee.
"Copyright and Related Rights in the Film, Music, Theatrical and Photography Works Industry" was presented by local resource persons, vocalist (Ms) Nwe Yin Win and film director Aung Soe Oo.
The final draft of the Seminar was unanimously adopted by the organizers, resource persons and participants. They expressed the need to continue spreading the awareness of IP (intellectual property), to form an ad hoc committee as a task force to work with WIPO on the feasibility of establishing a Collective Management Organization, and to arrange study tours for IP activities at WIPO Headquarters and facilities in other countries.
The Seminar, funded through the auspices of WIPO with Japan Copyright Office (JCO), was held for the second time in Myanmar. The first one of this kind was held by ACCU and MWJA in cooperation with JCO, under the patronage of the Myanmar Ministry of Information, in September 2005. Its outcome included a local version of Asian Copyright Handbook.
(May 2006, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Comics and Cartoons
Social Critics, Satirists and Humourists
In Myanmar cartoons appeared first and were followed later by comics and comic strips. Artists and illustrators tried different aspects of this trade and some found their niche in the world of comics. Their roles as social critics, political satirists and humourists made them popular among readers of all ages. Today cartoons are essential elements in all popular magazines and periodicals. Some of the artists tried to make a living from comic strips and comic book and created their own characters. A few successful comic stories are being made into feature films.
Presently there are nearly a dozen publishers which specialize in comic stories drawn by young students graduated from the State School of Fine Arts who majored in drawing and illustrations.
It is known that the world's first cartoon dates back to the 15th century. In Myanmar, U Ba Galay (pseudonym Shwe Talay), was the first local cartoonist in 1915. After him, in 1937, another comic book entitled Ko Pyoo and Ma Pyone, created by U Ba Gyan*1, came out as the original Myanmar comic for children and juveniles. By 1954, comic books were already established.
Four Periods of Development
Post-war development of this art can be roughly divided into four periods.
The first period saw a few talented artists who pioneered in breaking the ground for this kind of artistic endeavour. The first ones appearing on a regular basis were Modern Cartoon and Popular Cartoon, both monthly and illustrated mostly by Aung Shein*2. Although his contemporaries, Than Kywe, Paw Mya and Myat Tun Aung, passed away earlier, Aung Shein has been drawing comics and cartoons since then, and is now in the vicinity of 80. His cartoon characters are well loved by readers both young and old. Thus, he is considered the most successful modern cartoonist in Myanmar. The most popular duo of his comic characters are U Shan Sar and U Dein Daung, among a dozen others. Pe Thein also appeared at the same time and his fame rests on magazine comic strips.
The second period coincided with the development of general book publishing. Some more comic books and magazines appeared regularly. This cultivated the audiences' taste for more publications of this nature. Among the second generation of Myanmar cartoon creations in the 1970s, Ah Yaing by Thaw Ka*3 and Mi, Maw, May, Ma (Four Girls) by Win Maung are regarded as the best. After Win Maung died prematurely, Thaw Ka has survived as the most prominent cartoonist of that generation. He passed away very recently.
The third period followed in the mid-1980s when rising production costs and higher price of paper hindered full development of the trade. At this stage many cartoonists and illustrators were dropped due to the slackening book trade. Sprouting rental shops found their business brisk as straight buyers at the shop counters became fewer. Readers get their books on loan from these rentals on a per diem basis, which is cheaper than purchasing from retail outlets. The average print run of a comic book is three thousand copies.
In some twenty years of the third generation, among the successfuls are Tin Aung Ni, who does the comic book Ko Pyar Laung, and Maung Wunna*4, who created the work entitled Dominating the Scene. In this generation, Ngwe Kyi's comics based on Myanmar's humorous folklore have established his fame, and Myay Zar's animal character named Sein Myauk Myauk is very popular. Thit Htoon is also a prominent cartoonist drawing on science fiction. He created a comic character named Maung Ti Htwin (Young Inventor) and illustrates for younger readers.
From the contemporary fourth generation, Myaine-Yar-Zar Tut Pi by Sway Min-Dhanubyu*5, Htway Mon Lay Mon by Poe Zar, and In My Neighbourhood by Ko Shwe Htoo-Pyay, are today's best sellers. Shwe Thway (a Bonny Son) published by the government is a four-colour weekly appeared in 1969 and is still running with a print-run of 60,000.
In summary, the cartoonists and cartoons have served the people in their mission for social awareness in each stage of their development. Romantic stories for both young and adults go hand in hand with comic strips. Cartoonists as a group have their chapter in the Myanmar Writers and Journalist Association (MWJA).
Though there is yet no special training class for their profession, most of the young comic artists were apprenticed to noted artists during their novice days. So far, there is no prize or cartoons and comics yet to encourage them. They would strive for more defined objectives through readers' enjoyment and delight in order to achieve their worthy professional mission in this digital age.
(November 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
National Workshop on Copyright: Myanmar's Gateway to IP (intellectual property) Society
At a national workshop in Yangon, representatives of the media gathered to discuss a handbook on copyright for use by writers, journalists and publishers.
One of the objectives was to finalise a Myanmar draft version of the copyright handbook. The Myanmar draft was prepared with reference to the Asian Copyright Handbook which was produced in English by ACCU in cooperation with the Japanese Government's Copyright Office in 2004.
The three-day workshop, which began at Traders Hotel on 7 September 2005 and was attended by about 100 people, was organized by the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA) and ACCU. Discussion on the draft centred on issues and challenges involving copyright and how they might be addressed.
In an opening address at the workshop, the Myanmar Deputy Minister of Information, Brigadier-General Aung Thein, acknowledged the need to implement a copyright law, saying it would help publishing houses to sell on the international market. Mr. Nakanishi Koji, Director General of ACCU, spoke on the occasion.
The chairman of MWJA, U Hla Myaing, told the workshop that the copyright law enacted in 1911 had not been upgraded. "Myanmar people usually rely on the social practice of arbitration or mediation if there are any disputes over the rights of ownership," U Hla Myaing said. He said Myanmar needed to bring its copyright laws in line with those of other countries.
The workshop was also addressed by a senior official from Japan's Copyright Office, Mr. Tanaka Kentaro, who said copyright served as a foundation for cultural development in a country. Mr. Tanaka, the Deputy Director of the International Affairs Division of the office, said that by supporting the economic interests and the dignity of authors, musicians and artists, copyright 'stimulates and encourages their new creative activities.' He also said that in the interests of fostering copyright protection "it is extremely important that every citizen has an awareness and basic understanding of copyright." Copyright was important not only for 'creators' but also for 'ordinary people', he said.
Ms. Caroline Morgan of Australian Copyright Agency was among the overseas resource persons, together with Mr. Daiki Tetsuro of Shogakukan Publishing House in Tokyo. Both of them helped to clarify the problems and prospects of intellectual property protection at the workshop.
Two local resource persons, Mr. Khin Maung Win of the Attorney General's office and Mr. Kyaw Zaw Naing, an ex-professor and legal advisor to Myanmar Book Centre, presented their respective papers covering the background and prospects of copyright practice in Myanmar. The country is soon to enact a modern copyright law, as obligated by being a member of the WTO, and being a party to the TRIPs agreement.
Myanmar is the second country, after Viet Nam, in which ACCU has sought to raise awareness about copyright issues by helping to produce a local version of the handbook. Once the handbook is finalised and approved by the authorities, it will be distributed free of charge by MWJA.
(September 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Background and Current Movement of Copyright
Myanmar has been traditionally generous with a charitable outlook in the sharing and dissemination of knowledge to the public. As a British colony, Myanmar found itself under the British Legal system from 1886, and hence the Burma Copyright Act of 1911 remained in force until 1948. The years that followed national independence saw only slight modifications to the erstwhile outmoded Act. Having been a member of World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1994, and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) since 2001, Myanmar needs to recognize and respect the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights of each of the member states as well as those within its own borders. The idea of copyright is still not well understood by the society, so it is essential to promote copyright awareness with its intellectual property implications. At the same time Myanmar is on the verge of adopting IP laws in the country for integration with other international bodies in this field of activity.
The experts from the Geneva-based WIPO arrived on 22 August 2005 for a five-day visit in Yangon for talks with a team preparing a series of draft laws due to be enacted by 2006. The experts' consultations with the government's team would help in preparing a final draft of the intellectual property rights laws.
The Ministry of Science and Technology began work in 2004 on preparing the draft laws (covering patents, industrial designs, trademarks and copyright) to implement an agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) signed by WIPO and WTO in 1994. Myanmar intends to enact the laws by 2006.
An eighth version of the draft laws was prepared following a visit by the team to Geneva last May for consultations with WIPO. Adjustments to earlier versions of the draft laws followed suggestions made by Myanmar specialists in a range of fields to ensure they were most appropriate for conditions in the country.
Discussions during the visit by the WIPO experts would be devoted to copyright laws, which cover literature and other artistic works, computer software and cultural heritage. Of the four areas to be covered by the laws, copyright was the most complicated, said Dr. Moe Moe Thwe of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which is a current focal point for IP matters.
The experts from WIPO also held a workshop at MICT Park attended by officials from more than 20 government ministries as well as representatives of computer, movie, literary and other organizations.
(September 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Literary Succession of a Myanmar Family
A budding Myanmar publishing house celebrated its fifth anniversary and the landmark of one hundred published books with an exhibition in June 2005 in Yangon. The young publisher, U Thein Soe, is the grandson of Myanmar's literary icons, Journal Kyaw U Chit Maung (1912-1946) and Journal Kyaw Ma Ma Lay (1917-1982).
U Thein Soe wants to keep their memory alive among the new generation of Myanmar readers with his publications. His 'Thida Yadanar' publishing house carries a logo of five pens representing the pens of his grandparents, his late father, and his living aunt and uncle. They are all writers in their own right.
When he became a publisher in May 2000, he revived the name of his grandmother's printing house 'Thida Yadanar' (Lion's Treasure) in memory of his grandmother.
"What I am doing is very little part compared to my family's great achievements in the Myanmar literary world and I still have a lot to do. I would like to start up Journal Kyaw (which literally means eFamous Journal') again, to follow in their footsteps."
At first, he published the books of his grandparents and then went on to concentrate on other writers. His list includes mainly fiction with just a few non-fiction titles. He is chiefly interested in moral themes. The popular book 'Thu' (He) by his grandfather highlighted the morality and self-sacrifice of the protagonist. The novel has been reprinted seven times.
The centre of attraction in the hall is a volume entitled 'A Hundred Myanmar Short Stories of the Twentieth Century' by a hundred authors. It is a thick, hard-cover book, a thousand page-affair, with stories written by well-known authors over a time span of more than 60 years, from 1931 to 1998. It is a wonderful collection, with something for every reader to enjoy.
For those who wanted to trace the world of journalism of older days, back issues of Journal Kyaw journals were also on display. This exhibition was in fact a reminiscence of the literary scene of half a century ago being brought back to life by a devoted grandson.
(July 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Myanmar Publishing Scene in 2004
In 2004, there were 4,361 titles published in different categories on Dewey classification. In the Myanmar publishing world, according to recently available figures, there are 1,036 registered publishing enterprises, both large and small scale. Registered printing presses of varying capacities totalled 5,059 at the end of 2004.
Periodic journals catering for different strata of readership came to 115, while monthly magazines totalled 134 in the same period. Comparable figures of the same categories in the past two decades showed less than half of the present publishing work force and its outrun.
In the service of readers, libraries and reading rooms are not lagging behind. In tune with the reading materials production explosion, they are now spreading across the country in sizable towns. The currently launched village self-supporting library movement also has successfully organized some 16,000 reading rooms for community servicing. The figures are rising monthly towards the targeted goal of 20,000 by end of 2005. The Government Information and Public Relations Department has about 380 township libraries.
As in other countries, existing printing costs are high and the prices of printing materials are also rising; however, the publishing industry is bracing against this tide to enlighten the people and to bring about more readership among the younger generation. The present generation has other facilities for enjoying alternative media for entertainment and information in this Knowledge Age.
Looking back over this situation, the traditional recognition in the mottoes eKnowledge Begets Power' and eKnowledge Is Wisdom' is the thematic prime mover of this endeavour.
Privately-run book rental shops in almost every community have a role in this movement for reading and learning. They charge the borrower a per diem rate for every book and magazine they lend out. Their business is still thriving in smaller and remote communities.
Books and manuscripts are respectively nominated and selected for awards and prizes every year. The year 2004 saw 14 winners in the National Literary Awards, out of which 5 were women and 25 winners in Sarpay Beikman Manuscript Prizes, of which 7 were women.
The Myanmar Copyright Act is forthcoming soon along with Intellectual Property Right, which will replaced the outdated former colonial legislation of 1911.
Even though the Myanmar publishing world has achieved so much, so far, there are still some gaps to be filled in order for it to be a well-rounded industry. Those aspects are reference works for writers and scholars such as dictionaries, books of quotations, thesaurus, books on national biography and bibliography etc., books on terminology to coin new terms or transliterate for writing in modern fields of studies like science and technology and its cybernetic branches. Some aspects exist and some are to be compiled and introduced anew.
(May 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Dr. Tin Shwe Book Award Winners
The memorial awards were launched in honour of the late Dr. Tin Shwe in 2001. The current winners are two writers of belles-lettres and non-fiction in Myanmar Language who have not received prizes in the government- sponsored National Literary Awards.
They are Daw Win Win Myint for Pan ta Pwint ye Yin Khon Than (The Heartbeat of a Flower), a biography of veteran actress and vocalist Daw May Shin, who is now 84, and Dr. Daw Myint Myint Khin, for Thet She Kyan Mar Myanmar Ah Sar (Healthy Myanmar Food).
Also, an award for an English- language publication was added to the prizes presented in 2005, which are for works published in 2003. This is the country's first literary award for a work in English. U Ba Than, 75, won the award for Myanmar Delights and Attractions.
"At the suggestion of the Selection Committee, we added the award for books written in English to help make Myanmar culture more widely known in the world and to achieve sales on the international market" said Dr. Tin Shwe's widow Daw Aye Thant. "There are many books on Myanmar culture and traditions and the beauty of our country written according to their perspective, but I wanted to write as a native according to our knowledge and perspective, and in an international language," U Ba Than said of his book.
(March 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Poet eZaw Gyi' Memorial Prizes
Altogether six people received prizes for their respective merits of graduation theses on library sciences and research at Zaw Gyi Memorial Prize ceremony. The prize carries the name of the late national poet laureate Saya Zaw Gyi, who passed away in 1992. Since his death, his family, his disciples and well-wishers established a fund for the development of library sciences in the country.
The prize-winners at the Zaw Gyi memorial prize ceremony held on 29 January 2005 in Yangon, belong to the Institute of Library Science affiliated to Yangon University. On the occasion, Dr. Kyaw Sein, ex-minister for Education and Professor emeritus in Psychology at the Yangon Arts and Science University, delivered a keynote address entitled : eZaw Gyi's Triple Life' denoting his role as a librarian, a poet and philosopher in his lifetime.
(February 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Book on Environment Receives Annual Literary Prize
This manuscript with an environmental message won a first prize in Pakkoku U Ohn Pe Manuscript Prize recently in Yangon. The book is written by a lady enthusiast who carries the pseudonym of Ma Sane Sane (Miss Green) and its title is This Green Land. Her book covers different aspects of environmental in 18 chapters with focus on national and international situation. The author is a science graduate of Yangon University and now a field worker in environmental protection activities. She is also working as a director with a NGO, REAM (Renewable Energy Association Myanmar.)
(February 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB correspondent)
Birth Centenary of Writer 'Yan Aung'
The birth centenary of the late writer Sayagyi 'Yan Aung', who passed away in 1995 at the age of 91, was held on 25 December 2004, at Sarpay Baikman building in Yangon with Executive Committee members, writers, enthusiasts and guests present.
The vice-chairman of Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association made an opening speech. Lifelong Literary Award winning writer Paragu talked about his contemporary, Yan Aung. Writer Kyu Kyu Thin recited the late writer's poems. Writer Tekkatho Sein Tin and writer Maung Hsu Shin gave talks on the life and works of Yan Aung. He was a prolific writer who lived solely on writing and had produced numerous novels, essays and poems since his youth. He won national literary awards on several occasions in his lifetime.
His son, Tin Aung, who is also a writer himself, delivered words of thanks together with his elder sisters. They donated cash for the Paragu Shantiniketan Library and the Takkaatho Htingyi Digital Reference Library.
(January 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB Correspondent)
Writers' Day Book Fair
The Book Fair to mark the Writers' (Sarsodaw) Day for the year 2004 (Myanmar Calendar Year, 1366) organized by the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA), was opened at Yangon Trade Center. The ceremony was attended by Minister of Information Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan. He and Chairman of Myanmar Writers, U Hla Myaing (Ko Hsaung) formally opened the book fair, and the Minister and guests viewed round the book shops there. Altogether 48 literary houses are selling various titles and subjects. The book fair was open daily from 9 am to 5 pm till 9 December. Over 4,000 people visited the fair on the first day. The weeklong total sale of books fetched about 6 million Kyats.
The other venue to mark Myanmar Sarsodaw Day in conjunction with the ceremony was held at City Hall on 14 December 2004. Out of 109 doyen literati between 80 years old and above registered for the whole country, 66 attended to be paid respect. The ceremony was also attended by government officials, members of MWJA and guests.
The Writers' Day is held with talks and entertainments in major towns of the country.
(January 2005, Myo Thant, APPREB Correspondent)
Rural Library Movement
There are about 380 township libraries opened and run by the Information and Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Information (IPRD). The IPRD has opened free public libraries in almost every town in the nation, with the aim of enhancing the knowledge of people of all ages. Each library carries from 3,000 to 30,000 different titles.
However, 380 libraries are still not enough for over 53 million people of Myanmar, mostly in the countryside. Departments, wards, schools and military units also have their own libraries, and their development and effectiveness depend on the ability and zeal of the heads of the respective bodies.
There are nearly a thousand private libraries in addition to IPRD libraries. Over 37 million rural people in Myanmar do not have easy access to books. During the past decades the number of books published annually and the number of journals in circulation, monthly or weekly, have been increasing significantly.
But some villages do not even get dailies or journals. Now they are establishing libraries on a self-reliant basis. Up to 23 November 2004, the number of self-reliant rural libraries reached 10,237, up from just over 2,000 in 2003.
Thanks to the ardent efforts of youths with the assistance of local authorities, children are reading more and more books. Rural people of all ages are hungry for knowledge. With some 10,000 rural and ward libraries set up on a self-reliant basis, we can say that they are now launching a knowledge revolution in the countryside.
(November 2004, Myo Thant, APPREB Correspondent)
Veteran Writer Wins Top Myanmar Literary Award
Myanmar Veteran writer, Htay Maung 77, has become the third recipient of a Life-Long National Literary Award for the year 2004. The award, presented by the National Literary Award Selection Committee, under the Ministry of Information, was in recognition of the contribution of his novels, short stories and translations to the development of Myanmar Literature.
The prizes together with the 14 winners of the National Literary Award for 2004, was announced by the committee on 22 November 2004.
Candidates for the life-long award must be over 60 and have at lest 40 years' experience as writers. The first life-long award was presented for 2002 to the prominent author, Paragu, and the second life-long award for 2003 went to the veteran writer, novelist and journalist U Htin Fatt, 94, who writes under the pseudonym of Maung Htin.
This year's winner Htay Maung has written more than 1,000 short stories and translations. He won National Literary Awards in 1964 for his novel Ah Yae Taw Pon, (The Radical Affair) and in 1965 for his novel Tight Pwe Khaw Than (The Clarion Call of the Battle), which is one of his best known works. For 45 years, he served as the editor of various magazines, some of which are now defunct.
The National Literary Award for the best novel published in 2003 went to novelist Hsaung Win Latt for his biographical novel of a well known Myanmar Artist: Three O'clock in the Morning.
Dr. Ma Tin Win, a female writer, received the award for political literature for her book, The Imperialists Who Annexed the Asian Countries. It is her second National Literary Award.
The awards were launched by the government in 1962. Other categories include short story collections, works devoted to poetry, traditional culture and arts, children's literature and works on the arts, science and applied science.
Recipients of the Life-long National Literary Award receive a K 400,000 prize and National Literary Award winners receive K 200,000. The awards were presented at a ceremony at the National Theatre on 12 December 2004, the eve of Sarsodaw (Writers) Day in Myanmar.
(November 2004, Myo Thant, APPREB Correspondent)
Exhibition to Mark 200th Book of Centurion Publishing House
The Centurion (Yar-Pyae) Publishing House with U Soe Nyunt as head of the enterprise, marked their 200th book written by the late author U Shwe Aung, which was on display at the exhibition held for a week in Yangon. The exhibits included all the covers of two hundred books published by the same house. In addition, there were some illustrations of books and magazines done by the late master illustrators in the last half a century. There was a brisk book sale with discount at the exhibition. It was attended by contemporary writers and illustrators along with librarians and school teachers. The famous octogenarian writer, Paragu, opened the exhibition and he was presented with donations for a Reference Library which is under construction. The project would be named "Shantiniketan" after Rabindranath Tagore's Centre in India.
(August 2003, Myo Thant, ABD Correspondent)
National Literary Awards
Myanmar has had 85 weekly journals, 134 monthly magazines and several hundred registered private publishers during the past year. The National Literary Awards Selecting Committee has scrutinized about 1,500 books eligible for the Award for published works during the preceding year of 2001.
The year 2003 saw author awards, this time for unpublished manuscripts in five categories, and one Life-long Achievement Award. Eleven writers won prizes for their manuscripts in five categories. The Life-long Literary Achievement Award went to U Myo Thant, Ex-chairman of Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association and Advisor to the Ministry of Information, who writes under the pseudonym: Maung Hsu Shin. The prize-giving ceremony was held at the National Theatre in Yangon, attended by the State Secretary and high-ranking officials along with Myanmar literati.
(March 2003, Myo Thant, ABD Correspondent)
National Literary Awards for 2001
The National Literary Award Selection Committee of the Ministry of Information on 12 November 2002 announced the winners of the National Literary Awards for 2001.
The winners are Hsaung Win Lat in novel, Myotha Marahto in the collected short stories, Myinmu Maung Naing Moe in the collected poems, Pyinmana Maung Ni thin in children's literature, Ko Zaw Htay in youth literature, etc.
In recognition of the outstanding efforts to create Myanmar Literature for life, the Committee has chosen U Hla Kyaing, writer, age 82, as Life-long National Literary Award winner.
(December 2002, Myo Thant, ABD correspondent)
Sayawun Tin Shwe Literary Awards
The ceremony to present prizes to the winners of the first Sayawun Tin Shwe Literary Awards was held at the Myanmar Information and Communication Technology (MICT) Park in Yangon on 6 November 2002. The ceremony was attended by Chairman of Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA) and Central Executive Committee members, as well as winners and invited guests. The belles lettres award was presented to Pakokku O Ohn Pe and the general knowledge award to U thein Khine.
The Sayawun Tin Shwe Literary Awards were established to present literary awards under the patronage of the MWJA by the family members of the writer Sayawun Tin Shwe who had a strong attachment to literary tasks and performed literary services before his demise in 2001. Non-fiction books published in 2002 were invited to apply for the award to the committee.
(December 2002, Myo Thant, ABD correspondent)
Third Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association Conference
The Third Conference of the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA) which is a four-yearly affair, was held at the Pyidaungsu Hall on Kyaikkasan Ground in Yangon. More than 200 delegates attended the three-day occasion.
During the Conference six central executive members presented papers on promotion of writing and journalism. The topics of the papers were: "Active participation of journalists in carrying out tasks for development of literature under the leadership of MWJA;" "Making collective efforts for promotion of journalism, and informative writing for turning out a new breed of literary generations;" "Continuous exhortation for flourishing of patriotism and Union Spirit, and active participation in carrying out nation-building tasks;" "Preserving national heritage, classical literature and contemporary Myanmar literature widely exposing them to local and international spheres;" and "Ensuring contribution of literary benefits especially towards rural regions for development of human resources." Later, delegates presented their reviews on the six papers.
The Conference then unanimously nominated 5 new central executive members and elected 25 Central Executive Committee members, for the coming four-year term.
(September 2002, Myo Thant, ABD correspondent)
Oo Po Kyar Commemorative Library
Oo Po Kyar, an educationist and a well-known writer of short stories, was honoured in his hometown, Henthada by building a library. Oo Po Kyar has written nearly a dozen books and several dozens of short stories in his time. His writings are still very much appreciated by the present generation because of his lucid writings and encouragement for the readers. His patriotic stance and new research on Myanmar historical heroes inspired for the youth. Dr. Tin Tun Oo, a well-wisher, who himself is a native of the late author's town and one who belongs to present publishing world as Proprietor of General Knowledge Publishing House, donated Kyats two million for the building and ensured the library committee to further assist in the smooth running of the library in this small town. An opening ceremony was held on 27 April 2002, at the town, 70 miles west of the capital city of Yangon. Writers as well as local administration heads came to make tribute to the late writer at the library opening.
(June 2002, Myo Thant, from ABD 33-1)
South East Asia Write Award Winner Honoured
A ceremony to honour U Htin Gyi (pen name: Tekkatho Htin Gyi), member of Myanmar Language Commission and Literati, who won the 2001 South East Asia (SEA) Write Award was held in Yangon on 14 October 2001.
Present were Minister for Information Maj-Gen Kyi Aung, Deputy Minister U Thein Sein, Deputy Minister for Culture U Soe Nyunt, Chairman of Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (MWJA) U Hla Myaing (Ko Saung), CEC members, members of Myanmar Language Commission and members of National Literary Award Scrutiny Board.
Member of CEC of MWJA and close associate of U Htin Gyi, U Myo Thant (Maung Hsu Shin) gave an introductory speech about U Htin Gyi. The awardee recounted his experience of the 2001 SEA Write Award presentation ceremony in Bangkok.
U Htin Gyi, age 85 is a retired Director of Sarpay Beikman and the National Literary Award winner for his compilation on History of Myanmar Newspapers and Journals in 1995. The award is conferred for his lifelong contribution to the publishing industry in the country. (Myo Tant, October 2001)
Literature for the Blind
Literature for the blind is flourishing in the form of books, booklets and magazines, since Braille in Myanmar language was introduced in 1896.
Currently, there are four private institutions caring for the blind around the country. They have their own publications of books for the blind in Myanmar language, including a monthly magazine entitled The Light of New Generation. There are also about one thousand titles in Braille at the above institutions comprising both fiction and nonfiction, religious and juvenile literature.
To promote interest in literature among the blind children and youth of respective institutions, a debate was held under the title "Literature Is More Effective than Music in Nation Building". Each side of the debate had two blind youths and two writers to deliberate and ponder on the issue. The debate finished with equal scores. The writers were members of the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association who volunteered for this fund drive and cultural occasion. Together with the audience of nearly one thousand boys and girls, social workers, writers and managers of the disabled people's organizations attended. The debate was organized by the academic arm of the Myanmar Christian Blind Fellowship Association. The motto of the Association is "To Train Differently Able Persons". (Myo Thant, September 2001)
Women's Day Annual
To observe the Myanmar Women's Day for the year 2001, the National Working Committee for Women's Affairs organized an annual issue of Women's Magazine, which is to be released on 3 July, for the Women's Day. Contributors to the annual issue are mostly women writers, both veterans and the new generation of writers. The magazine carries poems, articles and short stories highlighting feminine themes. (Myo Thant, June 2001)
Literature Prizes on Anti-Drug Abuse Day
A ceremony to present prizes to winners in the literature, music, painting and cartoon competitions to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, organised by Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, was held.
In implementing narcotic drugs control, Myanmar approaches the problem in a multi-faceted manner. Educational programmes to wean the poppy farmers away from the old lifestyle to a new one by highlighting the adverse effects of narcotic drugs are carried out simultaneously with the development plans. Substitute reduction programmes are also simultaneously carried out together with supply reduction activities. Preventive drug abuse education, lectures, exhibitions and competitions are held to keep youths from following the wrong path. (Myo Thant, June 2001)
Annual National Literary Awards
The National Literary Awards for the books published in 1999 were presented at the National Theatre in Yangon on 27 November 1999. The awards cover 14 types of both fiction and non-fiction, including novels, short stories, 'belles-letters', poetry, children's literature etc. The prizes were originally introduced in 1948, when the country won its independence, then known as Sarpay Beikman Literary Awards and later named the National Literary Awards, being the highest honour in the country.
The awards are selected and nominated by a panel of literati consisting of 20 members, based on the 14 different categories of books published in the preceding year. The number of various titles and publications during the year 1999 was about 4,000 out of which nearly 1,000 titles were eligible for consideration and nomination for those awards.
The ceremony was held at the same time as the ceremony for the National Motto Implementation Literary Competition and Sarpay-Beikman Manuscript Competition Prizes, which are also annual affairs. The day of the ceremony was on Writers Day, which falls on the first day of the ninth month in the Myanmar traditional calendar. The Secretary - 1 of the State Peace and Development Council, General Khin Nyunt attended the ceremony, along with the state ministers, for a personal presentation. The General in his opening address urged the literati to open Myanmar's literary treasure trove with the aim of ensuring the flourishing of literature of high quality, and to serve as a beacon for readers.
As a sideline for the occasion, the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association sponsored a Book Fair for 10 days, with special discounts for books and magazines accompanied by the Book Exhibition. On the following day another ceremony was held at the City Hall to commemorate Writers Day by paying respects to the 118 elders in the literary and journalistic fields, who are aged 80 or more. They were presented with monetary donations and gifts. (U Myo Thant, February 2001)