The Yangon Times JournalYangon Times Journal
The Yangon Journal; Temple Rising Great; Will the Strongman Fall?
It is the nations watch as the builders complete the largest sanctuary in this town with its gold Stupa swelling up into the heavens, for in a whisper and in prayer they say it could mean the end for the most disputed man in this country: its head. At the moment he does not hold any formal offices, but General Ne Win has exercised the ultimative authority in this federation since he directed a 1962 war putsch.
When he began to build the Maha Wizaya, a buddhistic sanctuary, the Narathihapati myth was remembered. His work was halted until a friar advised him that the erection of the pit would be a great ministry for his population. While it may be more faith than hopes that have made this myth known throughout the land, it still refers to the people's rage at 79-year-old General Ne Win.
Someday, in 1987, he was telling his folks that most of the cash was forfeited. General Ne Win stepped down as leader of the governing coalition in the midst of drastic protests for policy changes in the summers of 1988, and some Myanmar citizens say he has somewhat diminished his grip on the state.
Although probably not part of daily surgeries, the Burmese say he is consulting his extremely loyal army officers, who now occupy the formal position, on all important matters. Today General Ne Win seldom appears from his large mansion on a sea in the north of Yangon, also known as Rangoon.
In March 1989, when he came out in the open, the people of Burma said he seemed sane and even lively. A number of people in Burma say that although they don't like General Ne Win, his powers must come from heaven because he kept them so long. A number of Yangonese and Yangon embassies say that as long as General Ne Win is still around, there is only a distant chance that a problem could divide the army and thus cause a new government.
"When Ne Win is dying, some say that it is possible that the army will split," said a Yangon aide. They at least want to show that they are getting ready for Ne Win's demise and that there will be no division if Ne Win die. Whilst all of the school and hospital facilities have old devices, the army is modernising, say Yangon officials.
She has recently purchased Yugoslav and Chinese Patrolling vessels and ordnance and other Chinese gear, and she has also been discussing the acquisition of F-7 hunters from China. Since 1988, the military has also grown, and embassies say it has nearly 250,000 men, many of whom are enlisted from impoverished, illiterate households in the countryside.
During the reign of General Ne Win, the armed forces have become a closed community, and commanders and forces are often in isolation in armed forces throughout the state. Also in Yangon, armed forces have better conditions and privileged care. Despite many of Burma's intelligentsia's dislike the government, the armed forces are still seen as an élite body, and even in cultured homes, some young people still talk of accession.
"Some of my friends' children want to join the military," said a Myanmar highbrowsman. "In Yangon, the aversion to General Ne Win seems to have been heightened by the building of his cloakroom. Although it is not yet ready, the humans have already begun to attend it. "This is a really bad stupa," said a man from Burma who came to see us recently.