Cartoon Lampooning Thein Sein's Woes Goes Viral

By The Irrawaddy 26 May 2012

As protests over power outages highlight growing dissatisfaction with the pace of reforms in Burma, a cartoon that points a satirical finger at foot-dragging bureaucrats and others with a vested interest in the old way of doing things has gone viral among Burmese Facebook users.

The cartoon, by well-know cartoonist Ngwe Kyi, shows a man whose upper body is eagerly marching along the road to reform, guided by the directives of President Thein Sein, while his lower half remains firmly planted on the ground several steps behind him.

While not specific about who it is that the bottom half represents, the cartoon has struck a chord with ordinary Burmese who increasingly see inertia among lower-level officials, rather than the threat of hardliners, as one of the major impediments to top-down reforms begun last year.

Since it was first published by The Yangon Times earlier this month, the cartoon has attracted much comment on Facebook and other social networking sites.

But even as stuck-in-their-ways officials are the obvious butt of the joke, many Burmese are reserving their harshest words for Thein Sein, the leader who has so far failed to rally the troops behind him.

“Shame on you,” remarked one Facebook user. “You are the head, but you can’t even make those beneath you move.”

“The president is afraid of the lower part,” opined another commenter.

Others thought that the cartoon was actually too generous in its suggestion that there are any real reformers in the government, which consists mostly of ex-generals who belonged to the former military junta that officially handed over power early last year.

“To be frank, I don’t think anyone has changed or reformed yet,” said one skeptical netizen.