Mon State Govt Requests Citizens Use Honorifics Based On Ethnicity

By Network Media Group
Friday, June 5, 2020

The Mon State government is asking citizens to use honorifics based on ethnic identity in front of their names for registration with the population department, applying for ID or registering their children for school.

Nai Mann Razar, secretary of the Mon Literature and Culture Committee, told NMG the committee supports the new initiative announced by the government on June 2. He said the use of Burmese honorifics in place of Mon ones has been damaging to Mon heritage.

Nai Mann Razar says when first attending school he put ‘Min’ in front of his name. But it was changed to Bamar (Burmese) honorific ‘Maung’. When Nai Mann Razar got older, he put ‘Nai’, which was changed to ‘U’.

“When they put ‘U’ or ‘Daw’ (for a Burmese woman) in front of our given names, we lose our ethnic identity and consequently our rights,” says Nai Mann Razar.

Each group in Burma has its own unique honorifics depending on culture. Bamar, for example, uses Ma, Daw, Maung, Ko, and U. For Karen, it’s Naw, Nan, Saw, Sa, or Mann. Mon use Min, Nai or Mi. And for Pa-O it is Khun and Nang.

Saw Aung Myint Khine, minister of Karen ethnic affairs for Mon State, supported the move for Karen living in the state. He wants Naw, Nan, Saw, Sa, or Mann honorifics in front of Karen student’s names for school enrolment records.

In the past, all had Bamar honorifics for their family registration document and ID, despite their ethnic identity.

San Wint Khine, minister of Pa-O ethnic affairs for Mon State, told NMG they were denied the right to choose one based on their culture before and why they demanded it.

Nai Mann Razar says now that it’s allowed he wants to see people exercising this right.
“Some don’t know what honorifics to use when making a birth certificate for their children. So staff can help them correctly choose the appropriate one.”