Junta Watch

Junta Watch: Regime Spokesperson’s Obscenity; Electric buses but no Electricity for the People and More

By The Irrawaddy 30 April 2022

Regime spokesperson’s obscenity goes viral

If you are what you say, the regime’s spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun is a lowly man for his use of an obscenity at the regime’s so-called press conference on April 27, which was mostly attended by pro-junta media. After taking the podium, the Maj-Gen denounced media outlets that refuse to parrot the regime’s falsehoods as “state-destroying media”, accusing them of reporting in favor of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG).

“Think to yourself whether you are the terrorist NUG’s “ball-lifter,” he barked, using a vulgar Myanmar slang phrase equivalent to the English phrase ‘ass licker’. The junta has branded the NUG and its associates as terrorists.

In Myanmar today, ‘ball-lifter’ is most commonly used on social media to describe someone who shows too much respect to the generals and their dictatorship. It is rarely used in everyday conversations, as it is considered too offensive.

Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun’s comment went viral online, attracting a torrent of criticism. People wondered what a crude and uneducated person he must be for daring to use such an obscenity at a state-level press conference.

But considering the vile institution he represents, it is perhaps not surprising to hear him spout such language. After all, the regime is just a bunch of uncivilized, shameless men in uniform who kill unarmed civilians and loot and torch their homes.

Plans to introduce electric buses ongoing despite daily power cuts

Fleet of Omni Focus buses in Yangon in 2107. / The Irrawaddy

 

Amid long hours of rolling power blackouts, a policy coordination meeting on the earliest possible production of electric vehicles was held in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw on April 22 on the orders of coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

The meeting was attended by the junta’s transport and communications minister Tin Aung San, industry minister U Charlie Than and officials of Omni Focus Co Ltd, owned by grandsons of the late military dictator U Ne Win, and discussed plans to run electric buses in Naypyitaw, Yangon and Mandalay.

U Charlie Than asked Omni to present its business plan to the regime’s governing body, the State Administration Council (SAC). He said the SAC will form a leading committee and work committee to develop guidelines.

Min Aung Hlaing has often talked about introducing electric buses and electric trains to Myanmar. In August last year, he said his regime was developing a policy and would announce it soon.

The Myanmar people, however, have called on the military regime for an end to power cuts and full access to electricity for everyone before trying to run electric buses.

 Regime to adopt proportional representation for its 2023 election

People wait in line to cast their votes on November 8, 2020, the day of the general election. / The Irrawaddy

Speaking at the regime’s April 27 press conference, the junta’s Union Election Commission (UEC) member U Khin Maung Oo said closed list proportional representation (PR) will replace the current First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system for the general election to be held by the regime next year.

Many believe the junta’s move is an attempt to prevent another landslide loss, after military-backed political parties were overwhelmingly trounced by the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party under the FPTP system in the elections of 1990, 2015 and 2020 [the NLD boycotted the 2010 poll].

Under the PR voting system, seats are distributed by election authorities to each party in proportion to the number of votes the party receives. In the closed list PR system, people vote only for a party, not for individual candidates. Each political party will have already decided which politicians will represent the seats allocated to the party after the election.

Under PR, it will be impossible for parties which enjoy wide popular support, like the NLD and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), to dominate parliament. Min Aung Hlaing could well become president under PR, given that 25 per cent of seats are reserved for military appointees, while the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party and other pro-military parties will also take a share of the seats.

Since the coup, the junta-controlled UEC has held four meetings with political parties to discuss the adoption of closed list PR. Those meetings were boycotted by the NLD, SNLD and the other parties which won the largest share of seats in the 2020 general election.

Lethal pro-junta militias get regime’s official blessing

Regime troops on patrol in Mandalay in February 2021. / The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s military regime has officially endorsed lethal pro-junta militias that are increasingly targeting civilians who oppose military rule.

Junta spokesman Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun told a press conference in Naypyitaw on Wednesday that the regime was implementing a “public security system” with regime supporters, as well as the army and police, who will get “manpower and equipment support” from the junta.

The implementation of the system means that pro-regime militias like the Pyu Saw Htee groups will have the official blessing to continue their atrocities against civilians such as extrajudicial killings, sexual assaults, arbitrary arrests and the torching of houses, under the cover of eliminating “terrorist forces”, the regime’s jargon for anyone who opposes military dictatorship.

The endorsement comes after the recent emergence of the Thwe Thout militia group, which was formed in response to an anti-junta group’s vow to attack regime supporters, security forces and their family members.

Thwe Thout has already claimed responsibility for the killing of two NLD supporters in Mandalay. Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun denied the group was endorsed by the junta. But he said nothing about taking legal action against the group.

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