Dr. Thane Oke Kyaw-Myint”Life in Australia”

My tuppenny’s worth:

A lot of my friends and former students ask, what is different living in Australia as compared to back home. Saya Nyo has been bringing up this topic more than once, the earlier posts were on AMIM Yahoo group that I started.

My immediate answer to whoever will listen is that I have electricity and water 24/7. If asked further I answer that the local authorities not only collect my garbage but dispose of it in a safe manner. I have telephone and Internet which barely break down so that even though I am miles away, I can remain in touch with family and friends all over the world.

As a senior citizen, I am given privileges even without asking, both for health and for other amenities, which get progressively more as I age.

In the suburb where I lived, a very mixed but harmonious neighborhood, there is no discrimination based on your work, ethnicity or religion: we are Buddhist, one neighbor was Lutheran, the other a catholic on either side, the family in front was from Uniting Church. One neighbor with a PhD is head of the data section of so Social service, another a truck driver who delivers car tires , another have a small hair salon. Behind us were a couple wife a teacher and husband an electrician. The neighbor in front was a policeman. A good mix of people from different backgrounds but all caring, accepting and welcoming neighbors to the two of us from day one. They did not care what we were or what we are but they only want us to be as good neighbors to them as they were to us.

I live in a country where nobody blocked you on the roads because the people in power was traveling on the same road as you, Here we did not even know senior members of the government is going our way or nothing happens if we overtake the prime minister’s car provided we do so according to traffic rules. Our prime minsters, outside their office, live like ordinary people: buy food stuff where most of us do. They are willing to wait with us in the queue at check outs; when we have functions in the park and there is free coffee and tea, prime ministers and federal ministers fall in line with us to get their drink and cookiesThey never expect to be given preference over those ahead in the queue nor they are given preference by the volunteers manning the food and drinks areas.

There is no corruption or bullying by the police. They are very courteous to us even when they stop us to do random breath tests. So long as we drive within limits, drive after drinking belief the recommended level and never run red lights, we are never troubled by the police.

Until recently, our parliament is open to any visitor, and the security is provided by two policemen on their bicycles, going around the perimeter. At question times, we can easily get tickets to observe live, the debates at the question times. You just have to be there early as there is only a finite number of seats.

People can demonstrate and protest for various issues. There is presence of police, not to stop the demonstration but to prevent hecklers and those with views different from the protester from disturbing the protests.

The MPs are approachable, you can call, write or email them with your concerns and you get an acknowledgement immediately and a full reply in a day or two. It is not lip service but if the issue be important, the MP is likely to take it the minister concerned at question time

In Canberra, there is no traffic congestion, with many parks and lakes, we can go either for walks or make BBQs and picnics. And there is no pollution.

My wife and I are members of a number clubs where we can always get decent meals at reasonable prices, which we do when friends visit us, where we have made many new friends. We have joined a Seniors Club where the members have a very inclusive attitude and make us feel welcome, and there are many activities for the members that we can join in with a small token fees. During school breaks, different colleges offer courses for adult education on various subjects, which you can attend for less than $100, for six weeks or more.

We even have the University of the Third Age U3A where one can learn from experts in many areas of interest.

Through our local library , we can get to read not only what is in the library but from any other library through interlibrary loans.

But there is one most important reason for us: during the years of working in UNICEF and with our children away for the education, the time that the of us and the three children do not get to be together except on school or university breaks. Now, we are back together since 2006, all three children living within ten to fifteen minutes from where we live.

As Saya Nyo has written, I am not arguing about whether we live abroad for greener pastures only but because we live in a place where family is and that there is democracy and we do not have our rights denied.

Jimmy Myo Well said as usual…Survival even when you are not fit and aged….My Welsh neighbours will come and mend tap leak, garage door and shed locked out, plant runner beans in our garden, collect mails and switch on heating to prevent water pipe burst and many more…..Burma used to have many lovely memories and social contacts but many grow apart…Saya Nyo should have gone long time ago back to Burma….I am worried about his health now in Burma….We have free prescriptions and free tuition for the children…Old age pension and winter heating allowance as well….Still sometimes dreaming of going back there, stupid Jimmy……

A.h. Kamal Well said Sayargyi. My 2nd son’s basketball team has ten members from 8 country of origin. They have been playing for the last 4 years. They formed the team to play in the club by their own with just having common interests.

On the train, you can find professors, directors, senior managers commuting daily among the passengers. Parking fee in my workplace is $29/hour and nobody gets free parking except security guards and cleaners. All take public transport understandably. Reverse is true in developing countries.

 

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