restricted access A Boundless Faith in Burma
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282 Section III, V. A BOUNDLESS FAITH IN BURMA Reproduced from Maung Maung, “A Boundless Faith in Burma” in The Guardian VI, no. 6 (June 1959): 26–27, by permission of Daw Khin Myint, wife of the late Dr Maung Maung. While big and rapid changes are taking place around us Dr J.S. Furnivall calmly, taps away at his old, faithful typewriter, at the T.T. Luce’s Home for Boys. He has been doing this for many years, and, these days, he breaks this persistent activity during the day only to attend to the basic needs of the body and to make music for the boys in the evening. He is working on the economic history of Burma, and already the material he has dug up has piled up into mountains. It is not research for pay or gain. It is an expedition of joy; every new fact excites Furnivall even as a new toy delights a child. His mind is fresh and keen and curious; he has seen new Burma grow; he has helped to nourish the minds of young Burmans. Through these generations, his faith in Burma has remained boundless and unflagging. Dr Furnivall and I attended a conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations at Lahore in Pakistan last year. There were some very good 03V DrMaung.indd 282 1/24/08 2:23:43 PM Reproduced from Dr Maung Maung: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot by Robert H. Taylor (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at A Boundless Faith in Burma 283 scholars from different countries, and S.E. Asia was discussed from different angles. We discussed politics, of course, and colonialism and alignments; economics and education; we even dared to peep into the future. Furnivall arrived one or two days after the conference started, because he had to take a train from Delhi to Lahore while I managed to fly. His arrival created a stir at the conference. He was a celebrity, and from the day he came he was in demand. He was treated with respect for his intellect, and also for his age; his authority was unchallenged. I had a little fun at one of the discussion groups by differing with him. He had said, if I remember rightly, that in Burma we were going a little too fast with industrialization for its own sake, and that we were probably exceeding our natural capacity for it. I said I disagreed, and I thought the “saturation point” for industrialization was still unreached in Burma. It was, of course, a reckless thing to debate with Furnivall on a subject I knew so little about, but I thought I would pull his leg a little, and I hoped that the expression “saturation point” which I had picked up in my college chemistry would carry some learned meaning in economics also. Now we are having to go slow with our industrialization programmes, Dr Furnivall is probably proved right. At Lahore I took Dr Furnivall to a dinner with Dennis and Mrs Stephenson of the Burma Railways. Dennis was a U.N. expert with the international railway school, a big man making big money but retaining his ancient modesty. Dennis and Gladys were pleased to receive Dr Furnivall, and I heard Gladys’ whisper to the ladies who came that he was the Furnivall about whom everyone knew in Burma and the world. One Pakistani film star who was making a considerable name for her Monroesque proportions and, incidentally, her dancing too, was invited — Dennis told me — but she could not make it, and that was rather a pity. I cannot to this day make out quite how Dennis, a railway man got to know film stars in Lahore; perhaps it was his U.N. status which made him feel that the world was his home and everyone, specially film stars, were part of his family. But that is by the way; I do not think Furnivall knew the film star was expected at the party; I am sure he did not miss her when she did not turn up. After the party we took a tonga ride into the cold night, and in sending Furnivall home we lost our way and it took us round and...


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Subject Headings

  • Burma -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Maung Maung, U, 1925-1994.
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