Thursday, October 19, 2017

Where Demon Kings Reign ~ postscript to Burma Revisited

A typical back alley in downtown Yangon, near the Bogyoke Aung San market, taken from my friend's kitchen window. Rubbish had been piling up uncleared for weeks, but two days after I arrived we noticed workers hard at work, hoeing away the hideous mess. My guess is that some municipal bureaucrat "forgot" to settle the invoice of a private contractor - until barraged by complaints from local residents.

Power outages are a regular occurrence in Yangon. It happened almost every day I was there - sometimes for only an hour, other times for three or four. Each time that happened, the water pump would stall and had to be manually restarted. Obviously, Myanmar 's middle class is still too new and voiceless to demand higher standards of utilities and services. I bet the ruling elite in Naypyidaw don't experience frequent power outages or lousy plumbing. On the other hand, without cellphone services and with their bosses breathing down their necks, I doubt the families of high-ranking civil servants get to experience much of anything - except when they manage to get out of Myanmar.

Young Burmese at Yangon International Airport, waiting for their AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur,
where jobs await at food outlets, gas stations and construction sites.
Many end up in detention centers run by Malaysian Immigration, a fate worse than hell.
General Than Shwe reviews the troops during a grand ceremony in Naypyidaw
(photo: Khin Maung Win/AFP/Getty)

Naypyidaw, located in the mountains, 250 miles north of Yangon
(photo by David Longstreath/Associated Press)

Isn't it remarkable how alike the Burmese military junta's "vision" is to Mahathir Mohamad's Wawasan 2020? In 2005 General Than Shwe decided to build a colossal new city from the ground up - not unlike Putrajaya (Victorious Principality) - exclusively to house the families of the military junta and high-ranking civil servants. The new administrative capital was named Naypyidaw (Abode of Kings). It's not some place you would wish to visit - unless, of course, you have an environmentally ruinous mega-project to pitch to the Myanmar government.

Sign on KTM Komuter warning against indecent behavior, petrol bombs, and dogs.
Does that mean the entire UMNO/BN cabinet is banned from using this service?

[First posted 3 October 2011, reposted 9 October 2014]


Anonymous said...

WOW! What a BIG white Elephant (of the City Hall pic).

baDboyzs said...

A very good but awful warning of a 2nd last evil neighboring regime (disguised as Burma's true saviors, sounds painfully familiar ain't it ?) & what present day sinking Malaysia under BN thugs may soon become...

...unless these despicable "patriots" in Ketuanan keris race/skull cab robes are kicked out this year

...or the next

Anonymous said...

"A typical back alley in downtown Yangon.." not much different from back alleys in parts of KL. But before we just blame the 'bureaucrats' for the mess, what about the people who create it in the first place.

"If anything is to be, it must first begin with ME."

CYTan said...

I was in Myanmar for 11-day backpacking and returned 3 days ago. One surprise I had was finding a weekly newspapers which, to me, gives better coverage than Malaysia counterparts.
The recent developments seem to point to a positive future. For example, the government just announced the suspension of the unpopular Myitsone Dam project, and the Parliament is tabling a bill to allow peaceful demonstrations and protests.

You can access the online edition of the Myanmartimes, though not the columnists' articles.

Remember to read the old issues too.

Starmandala said...

Anonymous @ 12:43PM - Point taken, but you must bear in mind that it's up to people to refuse to live amidst a horrendous mountain of refuse. If these people believed the municipal authorities would be responsive, they would long ago have demanded regular and efficient garbage disposal facilities - just as you find in high-rise apartments in the Klang Valley.

@CYTan - Thanks for your input which, I agree, is good cause for optimism as regards Myanmar's future. If even they can get their act together, why not we? :-)