Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The worst person in the world...really

The thug who runs Burma

The worst person in the world...really

Apologies to Keith Olbermann for the headline, but the people who regularly top his list -- Bill-O, Ann Coulter, etc. -- can't compare to this hideous thug: Than Shwe, the leading dictator of Burma, who is now starving his own people to death:

Welcome to the world of General Than Shwe - nicknamed, in muted whispers, the 'Bulldog'. Alliances in the tight circle surrounding him are oiled by money, influence and business opportunities, including arms and heroin dealing, and defined by paranoia, self-enrichment and astrology.

Than Shwe, 74, in power since 1992, is famed in Burma for his megalomania. The junta's bunker capital, Naypyidaw - 'The King's Place' - was built on the advice of his astrologer. A common rumour - exiles and dissidents paint the picture of a mad despot - is that the superstitious Than Shwe believes he is a Buddha. He commissioned a Buddha statue, whose face is uncannily like his own, which stands in Rangoon's most sacred pagoda, Shwedagon, where opposition activists go to venerate Aung San Suu Kyi.

But it was last year's extravagant wedding of Than Shwe's daughter that offered his subjects a rare glimpse inside this secretive world. A video was leaked onto the internet, showing a well-fed Thandar Shwe, perspiring under the weight of diamond-encrusted necklaces and hairbands and swathed in yards of silk as plump junta members sat on gold-trimmed chairs in front of a five-tiered wedding cake and champagne. For the Burmese, who struggle to find basic foodstuffs, the lavishness of the scene seemed surreal.

Until now, the thing that Than Shwe had going in his favor that few people outside Burma were paying attention. Unfortunately it's taken the tragic death of tens of thousands of his subjects, but that's not true anymore. In the wake of Saturday's deadly cyclone, Than Shwe and his thug regime are not only blocking more foreign aid workers -- including America, which already had relief ships in the region on a training exercise -- but even went so far as to hijack the first shipment that reached the country.

Now, some are wondering if Burma's military junta can survive. Undoubtedly, regime change would be a good thing -- except that the price is unspeakable. 

UPDATE: Adding here the video of the lavish wedding he threw his daughter while the Burmese people suffer in poverty and repression:

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Will Bunch
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