Junta Watch

Junta Watch: Monument to Dictator’s Colossal Vanity Rises; Regime Wedding Veils Violence; and More    

By The Irrawaddy 18 February 2023

Buddha statue a giant display of Min Aung Hlaing’s hypocrisy 

Min Aung Hlaing at the Feb. 10 ceremony to enshrine religious relics at the Maravijaya statue.

While his troops are busy torching and shelling Christian churches in Chin and Kayah states and central Myanmar, junta boss Min Aung Hlaing has instructed state media to solicit more donations for a marble Buddha statue – touted as the world’s biggest sitting Buddha image – which he is having built in Naypyitaw.

Reaching up 81 feet (24.69 meters) in height, the Maravijaya image is being constructed in a park of the same name in Dekkhinathiri Township along with more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with text from the Tripitaka (Pali Canon) of Theravada Buddhism. Through its media, the regime has been constantly urging people to donate funds for the construction of the Buddha image and stone inscriptions.

Speaking at the 77th anniversary of state broadcaster Myanmar Radio and Television on Wednesday, Min Aung Hlaing instructed state media including junta-controlled TV, radio, and newspapers to continue to promote the Buddha statue to “arouse the generosity of donors.”

This means there will be more articles in junta-controlled newspapers glorifying Min Aung Hlaing as the “protector and promoter of Buddhism” and gushing that the junta boss must have made much merit in his previous lives to be building the Maravijaya in this one.

Meanwhile, in eight townships in Chin State, western Myanmar, where the regime has imposed martial law and banned gatherings of more than five people, Christians have to seek approval from military authorities one week in advance for routine religious activities.

Elsewhere, the regime continues to kill and terrorize Buddhist and Christian civilians with indiscriminate air, artillery and infantry attacks on villages around the country.

Blood wedding for deputy defense chief’s daughter

Min Aung Hlaing and his wife Kyu Kyu Hla attend the wedding reception of Deputy Defense Minister Maj-Gen Aung Lin Tun’s daughter, Ma Thiri Lwin, and Captain Aung Myint Tun on Feb. 11.

Min Aung Hlaing and his wife attended a wedding reception in Naypyitaw on Saturday to witness junta Deputy Defence Minister Major-General Aung Lin Tun’s daughter Thiri Lwin tie the knot with Navy captain Aung Myint Tun.

Min Aung Hlaing appointed Aung Lin Tun as his defense deputy shortly after the military takeover in 2021. Aung Lin Tun has since demonstrated lethal efficiency in quelling anti-coup protests and rebellion, which earned him targeted sanctions from the European Union. Min Aung Hlaing rewarded the 52-year-old with the title of ‘Zeya Kyawhtin’, an honor for outstanding military service.

Meanwhile, Aung Lin Tun’s son is an actor who makes frequent appearances in regime propaganda movies, and also co-stars with the daughter of junta Social Welfare Minister Daw Thet Thet Khaing in adverts for Thet Thet Khaing’s gold shops.

EVs arrive in Myanmar amid electricity crisis 

Deputy Construction Minister U Win Pe inspects construction of a charging station at Thabyaygon Market in Naypyitaw on Feb. 16.

With the junta building charging stations for electric vehicles now arriving in Yangon from China amid serious power outages, questions are being asked about energy sources.

The regime’s cabinet meeting on Feb. 9 saw junta boss Min Aung Hlaing admit that power cuts would continue in Myanmar. Four days later, his electricity minister U Thaung Han and industry minister Charlie Than held an urgent meeting to discuss constructing a solar plant in the compound of a monosodium glutamate manufacturing factory in Daik-U in Bago Region. According to a report on the meeting, Min Aung Hlaing has called for a focus on solar energy to power electric vehicles.

However, the fact that the report was not published in state-run newspapers like Myanma Alin and Kyemon, which still have a relatively wide readership, but in the military mouthpiece Myawady Daily – which is not read even by soldiers – signals that Min Aung Hlaing’s electric vehicle scheme will come to naught in the end.