Today I read a good discussion between Ko Lwin Moe and May at Mayvelous over what May said in the Myanmar Blogger Interview "We, Burmese are always slow starters". I tried to leave my comment there, but there was an error with Wordpress database. (May, if you're reading it now, yeah, there was an error whenever I tried to add a comment). So I thought may be I would edit my comment a little bit and post here.

Are Burmese slow starters and slow learners?

I strongly believe that we are not slow learners at all. If you're a Burmese and studying or studied overseas, you might have noticed that we rank among the top of the class. I have personally experienced praises like "Is every Burmese very smart?" from some of my friends. It's hard to say we're smarter than other countries because most Burmese students in other countries are selected group - who are craving for a good education and who have done well in previous studies. So I can't say we're smarter than other students, but I dare say that Burmese are not slow learners.

However, I'm afraid I have to admit that we are slow starters when it comes to adopting new technologies and ideas. We are not as innovative and creative as some other countries. I think it is mainly because of culture, religion & lack of support.

Firstly, we had been trained to give respect to the elder and we're supposed not to be against with their ideas. If you listen and do what the elder tell you to do, you're "polite and nice". Learning at school is also one way - we listen to whatever teachers say and they don't like being questioned by students. These are main barriers for innovations & new ideas. But I can see the situation has improved generation by generation.

Besides, Buddhism teaches us not to be greedy but to contend, not to show-off but to be humble, etc. I think the driving forces for innovations in history are mainly reputation, recognition and status (money, power, etc). May be some inventors simply wanted to help people, but they are rare. Unfortunately, Buddhism does not favour those factors at all, since they all lead to more sufferings according to Buddha. If you look at the story of "King Mindon" and "Crown Prince Ka Naung Min Thar" who produced and tested bombs, you will see the influence of the religion on every aspect of our lives.

I don't think I need to mention again how the government has neglected to support innovators over decades. Furthermore, parents hardly encourage their children for creativeness and innovations. If something is functioning well, we're not supposed to touch it in case we break it. (For example, before I left Burma, most relatives & friends discouraged me of studying abroad. Their reason was I could get a good profession and comfortable life in Burma already.) So lack of support from governments and people around us, and the attitude of majority to always follow "the old track" sucks out our will to innovate & search for new ideas. We even have a saying "Ah Hlyin Lo, Lam O Like" (The old track is the shortest path).

I'm not letting Burmese down here or giving excuses for our weaknesses. I just wanted to point out what I think major causes to our weaknesses are. We just need to acknowledge them and improve ourselves for the sake of our country. I would love to hear your views as well.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Wai Pyo // November 29, 2005 1:41 am  

    A good read, bro. Really nice points you have covered!

  2. mayvelous // December 01, 2005 10:47 am  

    Wow bro, this is the type of discussion I'm trying to achieve from mm blog visitors/bloggers.

    This is the best response post I've read from mm blogs in a long time. You've given your point very well and I agree on every bit of it.

    It was so unfortunate that you cannot comment in my site (yah i really need to do some code fixing) and I very much like to place a link back here from my comments.

    I'm so glad that mm youngesters no longer just "a Reader" but "a Participant" and "good contributors" in the discussions. I'm sure to see more discussion/response like this from mm readers n blogs in near future.
    Giving/sharing your opinion, view and ideas with others show the best caring of all and I appreciate you for sharing your view on that post. :)
    A good read indeed bro :)
    keep it up.

  3. Lwin Moe // December 01, 2005 4:47 pm  

    Thanks for the discussion ;-) :-)

  4. Anonymous // December 23, 2006 8:23 am  

    Yes, I agree on these points!
    You know, these days, I have read that we have to show off & present our points in the class, but as Myanmar, sometimes we are afraid that it will be showing off and not humble ... those things .. so just keep quiet! I really want to get rid of that, u know! But still can't!

  5. Anonymous // March 10, 2007 6:40 pm  

    some thoughts are dangerous and threatened our living in our country.we can never be explored more than some limits.

  6. KKS // December 04, 2007 5:17 pm  

    i'm partially agreed on that, If U r Smart enough to not-become slow learners, that'means U intend to live in society as Knowledgable person, It's Not related to Yr Previous status & habits like blaming to Gov and generation, Surroundings, Culture and religions. It's Juz U and U shoul try to get the best for u and Society if long as U r Still Alive..I think...!!