Request for Written and Oral History

Updated on May 1, 2019

Sense of urgency

  • Several senior sayas (e.g. U Soe Khaw, U Num Kok) have passed away.
  • Some sayas (e.g. Saya U Khin Aung Kyi, U Kyaw Sein, U Ohn Maung) have declining heath and memory loss.
  • The window for having a comprehensive Written History and Oral History is shrinking.
  • Due to resource constraints, HMEE-2012 project was scoped down.
  • HMEE-2018 project need input and feedback from sayas and alumni all over the world.
  • We need volunteers to (a) interview sayas and the Senior Engineers about the different facets of University Engineering Education in Burma/Myanmar (b) help as reviewers, editors and authors.

Three 90+ Years Young Sayas

Saya U Soe Khaw (GBNF)

He studied in the USA. Upon his return to Burma, he was requested to teach part-time in Mining at BOC College. He served as Head of the Department. He was succeeded by Saya U Soon Sein as full-time saya and Head of the Department. U Soe Khaw worked for the Ministry of Mining before heading out for overseas assignment. After retirement from the United Nations, he migrated to the USA. He was actively involved in selected monasteries in the San Francisco Bay Area. Saya Allen Htay (C58, GBNF), Saya Dr. San Lin (C62) and I had a Lunch gathering with Saya U Soe Khaw. The Lunch gathering ended near to a Dinner gathering. The three sayas shared their memories. Saya was healthy physically and mentally before his beloved spouse’s demise. A few years later, Saya passed away in is 90s. Saya is a cousin of Dr. Htut Saing (Harry, Past Captain and Gold of RUBC, GBNF).

Saya H Num Kok (GBNF)

Saya taught Engineering Drawing to Saya Dr. Aung Gyi and Saya U Min Wun. He taught Soil Mechanics to the younger Sayas. He served as President of the RIT Track and Field Association with U Khin Maung Lay (Henry, T68) as Secretary and U Myo Nyunt (C69) as Joint Secretary. He served as Line Judge at the RUBC Regattas along with Saya U Sein Win (GBNF) and Saya Dr. San Hla Aung. Saya was loved by his former students. They showed up at the Welcome Party in Yangon for Saya a few years ago. Saya took home the banner of the event to his home in Portland, Oregon, USA. Saya worked full-time until he turned 80. Saya was reasonably healthy in his early 90s. Saya passed away at the tender age of 98.

Saya U Ba Toke

Saya is a Phwa Bet Taw of the University of Rangoon and the First RU Students’ Strike in December 1920. Saya’s life journey had been recorded and published by his former student Saya Dr. Khin Maung Swe (Maung Thin Char) with the help of Sayama Daw Myint Myint Khaing (daughter of Arzani Mahn Ba Khaing). During my visits to Yangon, I paid respect to Saya. He gave me autographed copy of the book. Saya was an athlete. He played soccer in his younger days. He headed the Burmese team to Olympics. He used to walk every weekend with his younger Dhamma friends to Shwe Dagon Pagoda. At the subsequent visits, I found the decline of Saya’s health but not his mental acumen. Hope Saya will stay healthy to celebrate the Centennial of his birth and Rangoon University.

Several of our sayas are near 80 or over 80. While they still have high energy and keen memory, we need VOLUNTEERS to either formally interview them or to record the conversations. They can become the artifacts of the ORAL HISTORY section of an engineering library (preferably the YTU Library).

80+ year young Sayas

Saya U Ba Than

He knows most of his former students well. Several students have seen Saya’s photo albums. Many photos were given to MES for display and to HMEE-2012 (History of University Engineering Education in Burma/Myanmar) for display in the book and the supplemental CD. Saya is a proud sponsor of the History project along with Saya U Soe Paing and Saya U Thaw Kaung (former Chief Librarian of the Rangoon University Central Library).

Saya U Ba Than celebrated his 88th birthday in October, 2018. His elder brother Saya U Tin U celebrated his 89th birthday in August, 2018. Some thought that their longevity is due to their genes. On the contrary, their father passed away in his 50s after raising nine successful sons and daughters.

Saya U Tin U

He provided an interview for HMEE-2012 Project. When the Rangoon University reopened in 1946 (after the war), he attended RU along with Dr. Pe Nyun, Dr. Pe Thein and Saya U Sein Hlaing. Most of his former classmates are GBNF. He is Past Captain and Gold of RUBC. He represented RUBC in the 1948 Independence Day Regatta at Kandawgyi along with Dr. Pe Nyun and Dr. Pe Thein. He is Past Captain of Rangoon Golf Club. He played golf until his early 80s. He still enjoys the evenings sitting in the lawn and enjoying Scotch Whiskey.


Saya Dr. Aung Gyi, Saya U Min Wun and Saya U Maung Maung Than form the initial group of Engineering students sent to study at the prestigious Universities in the USA under the “Twinning Program”.

Saya Dr. Aung Gyi is active. He attended most of the gatherings held in Yangon, Singapore, USA and Canada.

Saya U Min Wun is healthy, but he has to take care of his ailing spouse. His former students sent him Garawa money via those traveling to Southern California.

Saya U Maung Maung Than is GBNF. He served as Chair of the RIT Sports Council during our days. He played Chinlon. He is also a musician.

For the HMEE-2012 Project, we requested the former Heads of the Engineering Departments to write about the history of their departments. Some appeared in the CD supplement of the book.

The HMEE-2018 Project was established to revise the book published by HMEE-2012 and to provide additional material for the planned two-volume book. The team members led by Saya U Aung Hla Tun meet monthly.

MEC, MES and several Ministries have provided books and references for the HMEE-2018 project.

Written History

Several sayas wrote articles and/or notes for

  • “RIT Alumni International Newsletter” and updates
  • Commemorative issues of Swel Daw Yeik Sar Sarsaung for SPZP-2002, SPZP-2007 and SPZP-2010
  • Commemorative issues of Swel Daw Yei Magazine for SPZP-2012 and SPZP-2016
  • RIT Annual Magazines
  • RUESU Annual Magazines
  • Departmental Magazines (Mechanical, Electrical …)
  • Set Hmu Thadinzin
  • Trivia posts
  • Blogs by Sayas and Alumni

They may need to be revised.

Their works can be stored and displayed in the Written History section of an engineering library (preferably the YTU Library).

YTU Library

The YTU Library Modernization Project was conducted with the help of donors — large and small.

U Wynn Htain Oo and Daw/Nan Khin Nwe have reported the donations in Facebook Pages (RIT Updates, NorCal RIT Alumni Association, Swel Daw Yeik Foundation) and their walls.

We hope to see a History/Archives department (which is present in many museums). The following and more can be stored for access by users (students, researchers, historians, …)

  • Oral History
  • Written History
  • Media (CDs, CVDs, DVDs, …)
  • Database
  • ..

We hope that sayas and alumni will find an era or a topic or an album that they cherish and contribute their memories (e.g. photos, captions, anecdotes).

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