Myanmar Junta Blows Budget on Giant Parade
By The Irrawaddy 10 February 2022
Myanmar’s junta is spending at least 9 billion kyats (around US$5 million) on a grand military review in Naypyitaw this weekend, according to sources in the capital.
Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing plans to hold the parade near the parliamentary compound on Saturday when the country marks its 75th Union Day, becoming the first military dictator to preside over the ceremony.
The official reason for the ceremony is to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Union Day but some observers believe the event is an attempt by Min Aung Hlaing to portray himself as a head of a state supported by the people.
Naypyitaw sources told The Irrawaddy that the junta has allocated 50 million kyats ($28,000) to each of the 29 government ministries and other union-level organizations to prepare for the ceremony and organize exhibitions.
Each ministry has reportedly been asked to provide 100 to 200 staff to march past Min Aung Hlaing and salute him. Each state and region is also required to send over 100 participants and decorated vehicles displaying landmarks for the ceremony.
Previous “Boshu Thabin” ceremonies involved the president being saluted by honor guards, military and police personnel and members of social organizations. It was held on significant days in the country’s calendar, like Independence Day on Jan. 4.
The last one was held under the quasi-civilian former president, U Thein Sein, on Jan. 4, 2015. At that event, Min Aung Hlaing, as the military chief, saluted U Thein Sein at a pavilion where this year’s parade will be held. The ceremony was not held under the democratically elected National League for Democracy government.
The ceremony has drawn criticism, including from retired military personnel, due to the cost while the economy is in a tailspin due to the military takeover. Under U Thein Sein, the event cost an estimated 7 billion kyats.
A civil servant, who asked for anonymity, said rehearsals for participants began in late January.
“All participants have to arrive at 4am and they don’t finish until 2pm. It is really tiring and wasteful.”
The regime has tightened security in Naypyitaw ahead of the military review. Sources said junta forces have been ordered to shoot anyone breaching the 10pm-4am curfew.
Junta has invited ethnic armed organizations to attend the ceremony and preliminary peace talks. It has not invited what it calls “terrorist groups”.
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