Monday, November 7, 2005

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That Burmese junta is just so wacky

In the Financial Times, Amy Kazmin reports that the military junta controlling Burma has found a brand-new way of ensuring its diplomatic isolation:

Burma’s military rulers have begun the relocation of civil servants and central government ministries to an isolated compound near Pyinmana, hundreds of miles north of Rangoon.

In a statement to diplomats on Monday, Kyaw Thu, deputy foreign minister, said the regime had decided to move the entire government to remote Pyinmana to help with the “formidable tasks of building a modern and developed nation throughout the whole country and, in particular, the border areas”.

The Burmese regime selected Pyinmana, halfway between Rangoon and Mandalay and surrounded by mountains and dense forests, as a “command and control centre based at a strategic location central in the transportation and communication networks of the entire country”.

Foreign diplomats and international aid workers said the move suggested the military junta was retreating into a physical bunker....

While construction of the complex has long been an open secret, few believed the move would take place.

Government officials, many of them civilians, were reportedly devastated on Friday when relocation orders were unexpectedly issued to 10 ministries, including foreign affairs, home, commerce, health, transport, and communications.

The first convoys of trucks with office equipment and personnel moved out of the capital at the weekend.

Rangoon residents said civil servants were warned they would be charged with treason if they sought to avoid the move by resigning from their poorly paid jobs.

In its statement, the foreign ministry advised diplomats: “If you need to communicate on urgent matters, you can send a fax to Pyinmana.”

posted by Dan on 11.07.05 at 05:45 PM


Reminds me of one of my favorite (ir)regular TNR features, TA Frank's Today in Despotism: Updates from the World's Tyrannical Outposts. Burma invariably leads the list of wacky despot stuff.

posted by: nadehzda on 11.07.05 at 05:45 PM [permalink]

I read about that maybe 1 year ago. The reason was some possible US intervention.

posted by: lucklucky on 11.07.05 at 05:45 PM [permalink]

Why do you think this is wacky? I think it is quite reasonable considering the fact that they rely much more on trade with China and Thailand than on the trade through seaport.

posted by: P on 11.07.05 at 05:45 PM [permalink]

I read about that maybe 1 year ago. The reason was some possible US intervention.

It's nice to know that someone has enough confidence in the US military to think it can still be dangerous while ~100k troops are committed to Iraq.

Any chance we can get the Iranians to talk to these guys?

posted by: rosignol on 11.07.05 at 05:45 PM [permalink]

Hey, it worked with Brasilia. The question is, did the Burmese junta go for the architectural statement too?

posted by: binky on 11.07.05 at 05:45 PM [permalink]

Is his sequel, the return of the Khmer Rouge?

posted by: Robert M on 11.07.05 at 05:45 PM [permalink]

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