On This Day

The Day Myanmar Started Driving on the Right

By Wei Yan Aung 6 December 2019

YANGON—On this day 49 years ago, Myanmar introduced right-hand traffic at the order of dictator U Ne Win, who was then chairman of the Revolutionary Council. Until then, vehicles in Myanmar had driven on the left-hand side of the road.

The switch came nearly one year after U Ne Win first suggested the idea. After visiting a number of foreign countries, the general observed that most nations drive on the right and proposed that Myanmar follow suit because the country would have to connect to international road networks in the future.

The Dec. 7, 1970 issue of Myanmar’s Guardian newspaper with a report on the country’s switch from a left- to a right-hand traffic system the previous day.

It was rumored at the time that U Ne Win took the step on the advice of an astrologer, in order to avert impending bad luck. Many people believed that U Ne Win misinterpreted the astrologer’s words, which purportedly were meant to persuade him to abandon socialism and reintroduce a market economy.

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