Aided by India, junta shops for foreign investors
With the junta desperate for trade and investment with its giant neighbor India, commerce minister and ex-military officer Aung Naing Oo attended the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Business Conclave held from June 13-15 as an honorary guest.
The conclave presented the diplomatically isolated regime with a rare opportunity to attract foreign investment in Myanmar. The BIMSTEC grouping comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Chairman of the Myanmar Gems Entrepreneurs Association, U Myint Han, participated as a panelist in the gems forum, while the junta’s Economic and Social Development Center’s chief economist, Dr. Zaw Oo, who served as an economic advisor to former President U Thein Sein, spoke at the food and agriculture forum.
Gems are an important source of foreign currency income for the regime, while Dr. Zaw Oo is aiding the junta’s efforts to boost agriculture as the foundation of Myanmar’s economy.
Marketing blitz for Aung Bar Lay begins
The military regime launched an online lottery last week, with technical assistance from telecom operator Mytel, a joint venture between the defense ministries of Myanmar and Vietnam.
The junta’s Information Ministry is now busy marketing the Aung Bar Lay, as the state lottery is known.
Junta-controlled newspapers even featured an article on Tuesday asking Myanmar people to buy the online raffle tickets. The article argues that people should try their luck by taking a punt on the lottery. Even if they don’t win a prize, the money they spend will go towards public benefits, meaning lottery buyers will reap the reward from their generosity, it claims.
Myanmar citizens are traditionally crazy about the lottery, but people have boycotted Aung Bar Lay in the two years since the coup, crippling revenue from the national numbers game.
Min Aung Hlaing conceded at the launch ceremony that the online lottery was created in the hope of boosting state revenue.
However, Myanmar citizens are well aware that money spent on lottery tickets will help fund the junta’s terror campaign. So, few will water this “poison tree”, no matter what marketing strategy the regime deploys for the online lottery.
‘Hellfire and damnation await PDF Game players!’
The junta has again threatened players of a popular online video game that helps raise funds for the country’s armed resistance, this time by using the stick of religion.
The PDF Game allows players to take the role of Peoples Defense Force fighters and shoot junta soldiers as well as top generals like coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, virtually. Proceeds from the app-based game, which is available for Apple and Android devices, are donated to fund the resistance and help displaced civilians.
Since April, the regime has been warning the public that they face prosecution if caught playing the PDF Game. But the June 15 edition of the junta’s propaganda newspaper used religion to threaten young gamers in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, declaring that playing the PDF Game is equivalent to killing others.
Killing is strictly prohibited in Buddhism, as enshrined in the five precepts which form the basis of morality for Buddhists.
The public threat shows that the regime feels demoralized in the face of the digital blows being inflicted by the young generation.
Meanwhile, the junta’s warning against killing as it simultaneously commits massacres and other atrocities in its crackdown on civilians is akin to a burglar pointing the finger at the house owner.
Reaching out to Suu Kyi ‘for peace’
News that Lieutenant General Yar Pyae, the junta’s chief peace negotiator, and retired Lieutenant General Khin Zaw Oo met with detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw Prison this week and in early May has spurred speculation that the regime is trying to push her to intervene in its ongoing war against resistance forces.
The news broke just after a pro-junta monk met with the patron of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, U Tin Oo, to plead that she renounce politics and cooperate with the military regime “for the sake of peace” in Myanmar.
Junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun later denied the regime had held meetings with the detained democracy leader.
Given the regime’s tendency to lie about or blackout any news related to Suu Kyi, people found the junta’s claim hard to believe. What is true, as everyone knows, is that the junta is desperately struggling to contain an unwavering nationwide armed resistance on the ground.