The More Sibyl Podcast Presents: The One with Nathan - My Burmese Friend
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is the second largest country in Southeast Asia with a population of more than 50 million people. Chances are Myanmar is one of those countries that has never crossed your radar. It used to be this way for me too until I met my dear friend, Nathan, in 2014. Nathan is from Myanmar and is ethnically Chinese. He left Myanmar in his teens to live in Singapore. He holds a Masters in computer science and software development but switched his career by bagging an MBA with a focus on public health, so people won’t think he is the IT guy (*insert Asian joke here*).
In this episode, we explored the shadows of our countries, post-British colonization. If I learned anything from this episode, it is that poor countries (as measured by absolute poverty) have similar presentations, no matter what part of the world they are located in. This is because poor countries are poor because they have extractive economic and political institutions, where a culture of monopoly, corruption, and lack of political rights are the norm. (Recommended text: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (2013) by D. Acemoglu and J.A. Robinson). As a result, Nigeria and Myanmar as so much alike in more ways than I thought, and not just due to our common colonizer – the British.
I gauged his opinion on Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who is making headline news over her alleged inaction to the persecution of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State and refusal to accept that Burma's military has committed massacres.
We also talked about his hobbies – reading and traveling, as well as our mothers and WhatsApp broadcast messages.
PS: Nathan and I met in 2014 while interning at the same biotech company in Boston. During that time, we hung out a lot and explored a lot of the Boston scenes.. This episode was shot at his house in Somerville while I revisited Boston in July.