Than Shwe, Voodoo and the Number 11
By AUNG ZAW Thursday, December 25, 2008

(Page 2 of 2)

Word has it that Khin Nyunt is obsessed with learning if and when he and his family will be released.

I heard a rumor earlier this year that Khin Nyunt had requested permission for nine Buddhist monks to make merit at his house. Apparently, the request was partially granted—the regime allowed three monks. Why? Perhaps there was a concern that Khin Nyunt was going to perform an act of yadaya. It wouldn’t have escaped the current generals’ interest that “9” was the lucky number for the previous regime.

Burmese farmers know only too well of the regime’s obsessive policies. First it was physic nuts. Then it was sunflowers (translated into Burmese as nay kyar, meaning “long stay”). In 2007, farmers in Pegu Division were forced to grow whatever Than Shwe was advised would ensure his “long stay” in power, even if it meant turning this agrarian society into a Banana Republic.

Notoriously superstitious, Than Shwe is no stranger to yadaya and astrology. Indeed his latest act of voodoo had all the hallmarks of a man possessed.

When UN chief Ban Ki-moon and envoy Ibrahim Gambari came to Burma earlier this year, there was a mysterious detour to their scheduled itineraries.

When visiting Rangoon’s famous Shwedagon Pagoda, they were guided to a newly installed Buddhist statue, which appeared to be made of jade and had never been seen in public before.

On separate occasions, the UN dignitaries were given photo-op moments to make an offering and pray in front of the sculpture.

It may have missed the gaze of Ban and Gambari, but no one else failed to notice that the face of the statue was not so serene and Buddha-like. It was, in fact, an effigy of Than Shwe.

Embarrassed inner-circle officials later admitted that they had to carry out this crazy ritual at the behest of the narcissistic octogenarian. 

My informed astrologer in Naypyidaw had one more amusing story to share with me.

Whenever a UN envoy visits Burma, hotel staff are told to install a strip of a pregnant woman’s sarong or underwear within the ceiling of the VIP’s suite. Traditional Burmese men are often superstitious that coming into contact with women’s undergarments will diminish their hpoun, or manly power.

At least in the case of Ban and Gambari, that curse appears to be working.

  1  |  2  | 

Please read our policy before you post comments. Click here
E-mail:   (Your e-mail will not be published.)
You have characters left.
Word Verification: captcha Type the characters you see in the picture.

More Articles in This Section

bullet Sizing Up an Icon

bullet Fighting Corruption Begins at Home

bullet Future of Exiled Burmese Media

bullet How Much Freedom Does Burmese Media Enjoy?

bullet Five Days in Burma

bullet Turning Burma into Next Asian Tiger No Simple Task

bullet With Suu Kyi On Board, Is Burma Finally Moving Toward Real Change?

bullet The ‘Rule of Law’ in Burma

bullet New Doors are Opening in Burma

bullet A Good Beginning to the New Year

Thailand Hotels
Bangkok Hotels
China Hotels
India Hotels


Home |News |Regional |Business |Opinion |Multimedia |Special Feature |Interview |Magazine |Burmese Elections 2010 |Archives |Research
Copyright © 2008 Irrawaddy Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved.