A Daughter’s Memoir of Burma

With Rangoon still in ruins following the Second World War, Law-Yone revealed:

“The only place he could afford was in downtown Rangoon, in some old Japanese stables. It stank and there was no electricity, but in that setting he produced his first copy of The Nation. Very optimistically he printed 2,000 copies. Just 12 were sold.”

Law-Yone explained her feelings at the time her father was arrested:

“Life changed from this great promise that I was nurturing about going to study abroad and everything stopped. One of the real paradoxes of exile and one of the real cruelties is that you’re forced to be absent, but it makes it really impossible for you to actually ever leave, because in exile you are constantly harkening back to a place you can never get to.”

Although admitting her mother probably never sent the letters, throughout Ed Law- Yone’s imprisonment, Law-Yone wrote letters to General Ne Win.

“Of all the dictators, Ne Win seemed to be the most knowable, and he had some very obvious human flaws.”

Kendall questioned the title of the memoir, to which Law-Yone replied:

“Whilst in the jungle trying to ferment this revolution, he was permanently frustrated at his peace-loving Burmese colleagues. He was always trying to light a fire under them and he said, ‘Remember the old Burmese saying: Die and it’s the vile earth, Live and it’s the golden parasol. So go for the golden parasol.’ It seems to characterise his do-or-die attitude to life.”

Law-Yone talked of the strength of her fathers voice and biting editorials:

“In one I remember he wrote ’the average Burmese is a wonderful ignoramus.’ He was more than a newspaper editor; he was telling people how to behave as newly independent nation.”

In light of the current anti – Muslim violence across Burma, Law Yone commented:

“This book has led me to try and understand a little more of what it means to be Burmese; this notion of what is Burmese is a very fluid thing, as the Burmese are all an amalgam of the differences that have been a part of Burma’s cultural history.”

Watch or listen to the event here: