Monday, 18 November 2019

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Junta raises new flags throughout the country

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s new national flag has been flying at government buildings and NGO offices across the country from 3 p.m. yesterday.

myanmar-new-flag2sRangoon Mayor Aung Thein Lin presided over the flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall in Rangoon.

“The ceremony was 30 minutes late … and could not be held at 3 p.m. … the military band played the national anthem. The mayor and other officers bowed or saluted to the new national flag as many people watched,” a witness told Mizzima.

He added, “I saw neither the old national flag nor the new one in the Ministers’ Office. But I saw the new national flags in front of Myawaddy Bank, the District Peace and Development Council Office and offices in many townships.”

The former national flag was set on fire at City Hall and the Central Fire Department ceremonies in Rangoon. “We set the old national flag on fire after raising the new flag. We did it in accordance with instructions from our superior officers,” a Central Fire Department official said.

The old national flag, adopted on January 1974 upon the declaration of Burma as a socialist republic, has a red background with a small dark-blue rectangular area at the top-left corner. In the rectangular area, 14 stars encircle a cog and a rice plant. The new flag, designated in the controversial 2008 constitution, has a central white star set against a yellow, green and red background.

The authorities also gave the unusual instruction for flag-raising ceremonies, which was based on astrology, according to a resident from Rangoon.

“I think flag-raising ceremonies should be held in the morning but they [the junta] held them at 3 p.m. They told us the old national flag must be removed by a person born on a Tuesday and that the new national flag must be hoisted by someone born on a Wednesday. I feel so upset. Our government seriously believes in astrology. It’s too bad for our country,” the resident said.

One million flags, 6 x 4 feet, have been made by textile factories. The factories delivered 150,000 flags to the authorities before yesterday and received payment of 600 kyat (about 60 US cents) per unit.

Textile Factory No. 17 in the North Okkalapa Township of Rangoon, under the management of the Ministry of Industry No. 1, supplied cloth to the private textile factories, according to sources close to the private factories.

Replacing the national flag without any clear notice given the public was not satisfactory, Dr. Myat Nayn Soe, secretary of the Rangoon Division electoral campaign committee of the National Democratic Force, told Mizzima.
“It’s disrespectful to the people. They just ignored the people,” he said.  

Democratic Party (Myanmar) chairman Thu Wai said: “The 2008 constitution must be used only after the parliament approves it in the post-election period. They should wait until that time. Now, they did not obey their law. We want them to take action in accordance with the law.”

In May 2008, the junta conducted a constitutional referendum, which “officially” received 92.48 per cent support. Observers however condemned the junta for holding the referendum six days after Cyclone Nargis, as most of the country was reeling under the widespread death and destruction in its aftermath and more than 1 million people were homeless. The document was called neither free nor fair.


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