Myanmar military coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is planning to hold a grand military review next month, when the country marks its 75th annual Union Day, becoming the first military dictator to preside over such a ceremony, which has previously been held only by civilian presidents.
In the past, the ceremony, known as “Boshu Thabin” in Burmese, was normally an occasion on which the country’s civilian presidents were saluted by honor guards, parade columns of military and police personnel, as well as members of social organizations. It is usually held on an important day on the country’s calendar, like Independence Day.
The last one was held under former President U Thein Sein on Jan. 4—Independence day—in 2015. At that event, Min Aung Hlaing, as the military chief, saluted then-President Thein Sein in a pavilion on 20-lane Yazahtarni Road near the Parliament complex in the country’s capital Naypyitaw.
Under the National League for Democracy government, the ceremony wasn’t held.
“This year Boshu Thabin will again be held on Yazahtarni Road near the Parliament buildings, as it was in 2015,” sources in Naypyitaw said.
The parade was held at least three times under democratic governments between 1952 and 1962, when General Ne Win seized power.Under the dictatorships of Gen. Ne Win and Than Shwe, the ceremony wasn’t held. Min Aung Hlaing will be the first military ruler to hold the parade.
The official reason for holding the ceremony this year is to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Union Day, when the country’s independence hero General Aung San and representatives from the Shan, Kachin and Chin states reached an agreement on Feb. 12, 1947 to demand the British government restore independence to all of Myanmar.
However, many believe that Min Aung Hlaing is using the big day as an excuse to show himself off as the ruler of the country, which has been devastated by his coup in February last year.
U Pyi Thway Naing, chief editor of online Khit Ye Nant media, said, “I think he is still crazy about being president and wants to show his power.”
Another looming question is the cost of the ceremony. When U Thein Sein was planning for the 2015 event, he was questioned by Parliament about the event’s more than 60-billion-kyat cost.
With no parliament in session since the coup, preparations for this year’s ceremony were made without public scrutiny and it’s not clear how the regime will foot the bill, especially as the country’s economy has been in a downward spiral due to the takeover.
A retired Army captain said, “It is a sheer waste of money in a time of pandemic and economic downturn.”
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