- By Maung Thaung Win (Ex-diplomat)
I happen to read a social media news report in a German restaurant of Myanmar men who were fined for leftover food by the authorities concerned. One may take the news lightly; if one takes it seriously, it may even tarnish the reputation of our country. Myanmar people are deemed as a people who often commit to themselves to wasting food and money. Some members of the elite are proud of behaving inadvertently towards their country. Suffice it to say that the behavior is a shameful conduct.
Those born with silver spoons in their mouths
There are many ways of getting rich in Myanmar: wealth handed down from generation to generation; by means of bribery and corruption; by abusing one’s authority; bribing somebody into handing over secret information and by telling a pack of lies and so on. Most Myanmar millionaires are believed to have accumulated wealth in collaboration with authorities concerned. True rags-to –riches stories are inevitably found among the country’s wealthy men.
Widening gap between the rich and poor in Myanmar society
The gap between the rich and poor in Myanmar rural and urban society is unbelievably getting wider and wider. Some wealthy men living in Yangon and Mandalay have their homes of their own worth millions; several luxurious cars belong to their families. Contrarily, people with a hand-to-mouth existence have to live in a hut with a thatch roof and walk to and fro between their huts and rice fields. While the wealthy families send their sons and daughters abroad for further studies, rural kids don’t have a chance to finish their primary level education. The rich enjoy their meals in restaurants and the rural poor have to dig in with broken rice and shrimp-paste sauce, putting Myanmar society in disarray and unbalanced.
Wealthy Myanmar people including government servants flush with much money usually go shopping abroad, put up in luxurious hotels and eat meals in expensive restaurants. They buy expensive goods and order food in restaurants more than they need. They never try to finish the meals up, leaving a lot of leftovers. They are all too much complacent about their behavior; it is really a shameful deed!
My personal experience
While working abroad, I sometimes went to eat out with my family. I found many foreigners especially European tourists highly disciplined in restaurants. They order the meals according to their needs. They try to finish their meals with nothing left on the plates. My Myanmar guests were shown round shopping malls and fed them in restaurants which usually charge in dollars. Unfortunately they never tried to finish their meals ; their ways of thinking are different from those of Europeans.
The same thing happens in our country now. Some people order expensive meals more than their needs; they never finish them up. The leftover meals are finally thrown into dustbins. They should have ordered in accordance with their needs. If they need some more, they can order again. Suffice it to say that these people have committed a wasteful use of our national resources. During my young days, when a grain of boiled rice fell off the plate, I was asked by my parents to pick it up. They explained to me how peasants toiled in the fields. These days, when rich men ask “where does the rice come from”? The simple answer would be “from the rice pot”. In this connection I would like to advise authorities concerned to form ‘monitor teams’ in restaurants and hotels across the country. The guests have to finish up the meals that they have ordered or else they must be fined. At this juncture these teams must be completely without bias and fairly justified.
A waste of everything everywhere
I should say Myanmar people tend to waste everything besides meals: waste of documents, electricity and water in offices. The worst is the waste of time. Government servants sit idly by at a tea shop by putting a bet on fixtures of football teams. Some spend their time in parks and cinema halls. Most people keep on using iphones, by wasting a valuable time, leading to the slow generation of their mental aculties.
We must economize
The prices of basic commodities are climbing at full speed, putting our country in great debt. The increase in salaries of government servants cannot be expected in the foreseeable future. That is why each and every one should avoid wasting money on unnecessary things.
Similarly wealthy men should restrict on their reckless use of money at the expense of natural resources of the country. It would be just right to economize as much as one can.
Concerning with contents in this article, one might ask” We use what we have earned. What of it?” That would be contrary to what I wanted to point out in the article. What I mean is to buy and use according to one’s needs to be a dutiful Myanmar citizen. Contrarily, ordering meals in restaurants more than one’s needs and leaving a lot of leftovers would mean mere waste of national resources. So the people of Myanmar are respectfully advised to economize as much as they can on the use of national resources.
Translated by Arakan Sein