Junta Watch

Junta Watch: Regime Issues Water Warning as Public Services Collapse; Min Aung Hlaing Barred From UK Coronation; and More

By The Irrawaddy 6 May 2023

Public blamed for utility failures

People line up to fill containers with water in Yangon on March 14, 2022, as thousands of people faced water shortages due to power outages in the city. / AFP

With Myanmar people in villages and towns suffering serious water shortages due to extreme summer heat and regular power outages affecting water pumps, the regime has chosen to lecture the public about wasting water.

On Monday, junta-controlled newspapers featured a translated article titled “Tunisia’s Government Orders Water Saving Measures, Threatens Fines and Jail” – an implicit warning to Myanmar people who are decrying power cuts and water shortages.

Despite its promise to create economic prosperity for the country, the regime is struggling to provide even utilities as its delivery of basic public services collapses. Meanwhile, junta newspapers are overflowing with lectures telling people how they should save electricity, fuel, and water.

Junta boss Min Aung Hlaing cynically used World Water Day in March to pass on the same message.

Blacklisted again by UK

Royal bunting lines the procession route on The Mall, close to Buckingham Palace in central London, on Thursday ahead of the coronation weekend. / AFP

Junta boss Min Aung Hlaing was not invited to Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral in September last year. So, it comes as no surprise that Britain has left the junta off its guestlist for King Charles’ coronation on Saturday.

The coronation will see around 2,000 heads of state, kings and queens, blue-blooded families and other VIPs attend but will not feature representatives from Myanmar, Russia, Belarus, Syria, Venezuela, and Afghanistan. The same handful of countries were not invited to the Queen’s funeral either.

Britain has imposed sanctions on Myanmar individuals and businesses with military links, including companies owned by Min Aung Hlaing’s son Aung Pyae Sone.

The United Nations Security Council in December last year adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years, demanding an end to violence and calling on the country’s military rulers to release all political prisoners, including democratically elected leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The draft resolution was tabled by Britain.

Min Aung Hlaing resorts to Yadaya magic ­– again

Min Aung Hlaing and his wife Kyu Kyu Hla conduct a water-pouring ceremony for the Kason full moon day on Wednesday.  MWD

Min Aung Hlaing has issued secret orders to government departments across the country including self-administered zones to perform certain yadaya rituals on May 3, the Kason full moon day, which is a significant holiday for Buddhist communities.

Widely practiced in Myanmar, yadaya refers to rituals done to delay, neutralize and prevent misfortune.

The secret order dictates that six yadaya activities are to be carried out at specific times of the day. The purpose of the yadaya, it states, is to ensure success in every task to be performed and avert ‘Set Ta Mee’ or the 11 Dangers, including death and misery.

Perhaps the yadaya is mainly intended to protect him from the danger and misery he has been struggling with, given the unfaltering popular armed resistance against his regime.

On May 2, the regime also donated rice to 11,111 Buddhist monks at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. The precise number of Buddhist monks invited to the ceremony suggests yadaya was behind this event, too.

Former military dictator Than Shwe was also superstitious and performed many yadaya rituals during his 18-year rule in the hope of retaining his grip on power. But Min Aung Hlaing appears to have overseen more yadaya rituals than his predecessor over the past two years. There are two possible explanations for this. Either Min Aung Hlaing is more superstitious, or he is at his wits’ end and has resorted to magic in fighting the resistance movement.

Chinese FM visits dictator and predecessor

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Min Aung Hlaing hold a ceremonial tea set during their meeting in Naypyitaw on Tuesday. / Cincds

Foreign Minister Qin Gang held talks with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyitaw on Tuesday, becoming the first top-level Chinese government official to meet with the regime leadership since the coup in 2021. He also met with Myanmar’s former dictator Than Shwe. Read more here.