I asked to speak to the manager and minutes later, I’m being directed outside the building, along the road and back inside another building, that backs onto the same building I have just left. I sat and patiently waited. Finally, a man dressed in army uniform entered from the street. He asked, “Why do you want to travel to Bhamo?”

“I want to catch the ferry to Mandalay”, I replied. “OK, I will authorise the tickets”, he said. As we left, I asked who he was. He said, “U Kyaw Myint, deputy minister for transport.”

– Extracted from Dennis Guild, “Burma: Waiting for Suu Kyi”, Green Left Weekly, 5 July 2008.

This little anecdote is part of Guild’s long discussion of politics and everyday life in Burma. He concludes with the exhortation, “Let’s hope the world will place principle before profit and help free Suu Kyi and her people before she turns 64.”

A bit of context may be helpful here…some New Mandala readers will not be aware that Green Left Weekly is a newspaper sold on many Australian university campuses and anywhere the remnants of the old Left congregate. According to Wikipedia, “The newspaper strongly supports the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela led by Hugo Ch├бvez, and has recently opened a bureau in Caracas to improve its coverage of events there.” As Australia’s self-proclaimed “leading radical newspaper” it also has regular Burma coverage.

As examples of a certain kind of activist and polemical position some of its Burma articles are worth a quick look. Of course it is not everyone’s cup of tea…but there is clearly still some kind of audience (or, dare I say it, a market) for this kind of commentary.