Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Myanmar, Burma. Burma, Myanmar. Let's Call The Whole Junta Off

Media Here Come Up With Different Answers for What's In A Name, as Cyclone Relief Continues to Be Held Up

Media organizations have been doing their share of hand-wringing over whether to use Burma or Myanmar when doing cyclone coverage. The Washington Post uses the former, while The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times, along with the AP stylebook go with the latter.
The U.S. government goes with Burma (except when it's meeting with the country's leaders to get permission to bring in relief supplies) because it doesn't recognize the ruling junta as a legitimate government. That position is at odds with the U.N., Japan and France, among others.
So, if you take the view that nations hostile toward the junta and its repressive ways would choose Burma in the name game, it's curious that media in Thailand, Burma's friendly neighbor, would also use the B-word.
The Bangkok Post said "30 volunteer doctors will help treat Burmese victims of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated much of Rangoon..."
That's right. Rangoon, not Yangon.
Similarly, The Nation, Bangkok's other English daily, noted the Thai prime minister, who had visited Burma, was stranded at Rangoon's airport because of heavy rain.
It appears The Nation appears to have little use for Thailand being buddy-buddy with Burma, as one editorial shows:

Even though Burma has failed to comply with good behaviour and governance within Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations], the grouping always comes to its defence. When the regime cracked down with extreme violence against the monks last September, Asean kept quiet. Of course, Asean expressed revulsion against the junta's actions to preempt others from doing so ... Thailand is the strongest supporter of the regime. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has criticised the opposition party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Worse, Thailand's Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama naively endorsed and praised the Burmese leaders at every turn.

What's in a name, indeed.

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