The Batcrap Crazy Republic of the Union of Myanmar


The above is the official title of the country formerly known as Burma. No, really! Okay, I added two words to it, but if you read on, I think you can see why.

I happened upon this article on Reuters.

Myanmar gets new flag, official name, anthem

Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:40am EDT

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar’s ruling military changed the country’s flag, national anthem and official name on Thursday, just over two weeks before the country’s first election in 20 years, state media said.

The changes were outlined in a new constitution published in 2008 but the government had not announced a date for their introduction.

The country’s new name is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, instead of the Union of Myanmar.

All well and good so far, right? Basically, what you appear to be witnessing is a group of people, who have been happily crushing democracy since 1962, rearranging the deck chairs of the Titanic. The country’s pretty much an economic basket case, and the people are up in arms (or, they would be if the military junta wasn’t always cutting those arms off), but, hey: no worries! We’ve introduced a new flag, a new anthem, and we’ve changed the name of our country. Again.

But here’s where things get a little weird.

The new flag has a horizontal band of light green at the top, dark green in the center and red at the bottom, with a white star in the middle. There has been no official explanation as to what the colors or the star represent.

Nor has there been any explanation as to why the changes, which include a new state seal, were being made.

Officials in various government departments told Reuters they were ordered to change the flags.

“We were caught by surprise when we got the order at short notice. There was also an order that the old flags must be burned,” said one official who declined to be identified.

No, no, that’s not the weird part. Cunningly left until after the page break, is this passage:

The order stipulated that the old flag had to be lowered by someone born on a Tuesday and the new flag had to be raised by someone born on a Wednesday, he said.

Say what?

The order stipulated that the old flag had to be lowered by someone born on a Tuesday and the new flag had to be raised by someone born on a Wednesday, he said.

That’s what I thought you said.

“It must have been instructed by astrologers,” (said the nameless official).

Uh, huh.

Myanmar’s secretive military rulers, who will retain ultimate power no matter who wins the November 7 parliamentary election, are widely believed to consult astrologers.

These military rulers of the country formerly known as Burma must be a real piece of work. If and when their rule ends, and the country goes through a decent period of recovery, I wonder if some Burmese writer might find enough material there in which to lampoon them.

You know, you have Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and you have Libyan dictator Colonel Gadhafi and you can tell that they’re a few cards short of a full deck, but at least you know who they are. You have the president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez (not a dictator but definitely a demagogue) going off on his paranoid little rants, but at least he puts his face to them. The fact that we can’t name the people who have ruled Burma with an iron fist since 1962 (something these guys actually want to keep secret) is just a higher form of creepy. Between the bizarre orders and the willy-nilly changes to the window dressing of the country, add in the rampant paranoia, and you have several sick individuals in charge at the top, don’t you?

Several dozen passers-by watched the formal ceremony to change the flags at Yangon City Hall.

One, who declined to be identified, said the change was akin to putting old wine in new bottles: “The label has changed but what is really needed is a change of the wine.”

The poor people of Burma. I hope that some day their time will come.

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