Locals upset after upper house speaker snatches historic notebook

Locals upset after upper house speaker snatches historic notebook

Residents in central Burma’s Yaynanchaung are upset with the parliament’s upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint after he commandeered a notebook containing General Aung San’s original handwriting that was being kept at a local high school.

Mu Mu Htun, headmistress of Magwe division’s Yaynanchaung High School-1, said Khin Aung Myint took the book during his recent visit to the town on Martyrs’ Day and said he would preserve it.

“We understand he wishes to preserve the notebook and keep it at the national museum where the public will have wider access, but we don’t want to give it up that easily – we feel the loss,” said Mu Mu Htun.

According to the school’s secretary Kyaw San Oo, the town’s residents are preparing to lobby Aung San Suu Kyi with the help of Ashin Sandra Dika, a revered Buddhist monk and Yaynanchaung native, to help retrieve the book.

“We will try to ask for the notebook back through Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Ashin Sandra Dika – hopefully it will go well and even if it doesn’t, we will still have to try. This book is precious to the town’s residents,” said Kyaw San Oo.

Ashin Sandra Dika, who was a student at the school that housed the artifact, said the book was priceless to the town and taking it away could lead to public protests.

“Residents have been seriously thinking about staging public protests to ask for the book back and I, as a former student at the school who regards general Aung San as our forefather, also wish to have it with us,” said Ashin Sandra.

“We wouldn’t give it up for even one billion kyat.”

Locals said they were prepared to let the government have the book, but they said would prefer to hand it over at an official ceremony.

The upper house speaker was unavailable for comment.

The notebook belonged to Burma’s famed independence leader when he attended a Pali language course at Rangoon University in 1933 and contains notes written in English by hand. He later gave it as a gift to a friend, who passed it on to Yaynanchaung-based journalist to donate to an appropriate school in the town. Aung San had himself previously attended high school in Yaynanchaung.

Yaynanchaung High School-1 was planning to exhibit the notebook during the school’s 100th year anniversary celebrations in January 2015.

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