‘Burma’ and ‘Myanmar’ are close

Waipahu, Hawaii

Cesar Chelala’s July 16 article, “Why ‘Burma’ should remain the country’s name,” describes the controversy over the use of either “Burma” or “Myanmar” for Southeast Asia’s second-largest country. It should be pointed out that the rationale given by the military government in 1989 for changing the country’s official name was erroneous: that “Burma” refers to the majority ethnic group exclusively while “Myanmar” refers to all the nation’s ethnic groups.

In fact, in the Burmese/Myanmar language, both “Bama” (Burma) and “Myanma” (Myanmar) refer to the same thing, the ethnic majority.

At present, there is no ethnically neutral name for Burma/Myanmar. However, perhaps less time should be expended on the name controversy and more on finding ways to promote peace and development inside the country.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

donald m. seekins