Burmese generals open their purse strings for their lavish jungle retreat

November 14th, 2007 - 2:15 am ICT by admin  
According to The Times, it is a lavish jungle retreat far away from Burma’s poor. Located 200 miles from the sea, Naypyidaw’s superlative infrastructure can be gauged from the ten-lane wide road that leads into it.

It is the grandest and fastest stretch of road in a country where potholed tracks qualify as major highways. The traffic mainly consists of sputtering motorbikes, horse-drawn carts and lines of women carrying baskets on their heads.

The broad roads, grandiose public buildings and shopping centres are meant as a model of the advanced Asian city - but many of them stand empty and unused. Unknown millions have been lavished on its construction in a country where most people live on less than 50p a day.

Its inaccessible location is intended to protect the junta of Senior General Than Shwe.

Foreigners are rarely allowed to visit the city. Members of Burma’s Muslim minority are excluded, and despite several shiny new Buddhist pagodas there are almost none of the monks who turned against the Government last month.

In structure, Naypyidaw is hardly a city at all but rather a series of distantly spaced zones, carefully dispersed to isolate the different parts of the city from one another. The hotel zone is where foreigners stay, in places with names such as the Royal Kumudra, the Golden Myanmar and the Aureum Palace. For 70 dollars a night, you can enjoy foreign cable TV and air conditioning in a self-contained bungalow.

The civilian heart is a town of white, blue and pink four-storey flats. Red engines stand beneath the tower of the fire station. Police stations bear a friendly English motto: “May I help you?” A shopping complex contains scores of commercial premises, all unfinished or unoccupied.

Naypyidaw’s city hall has high white walls and curving tiled roofs, like the palace of Ming the Merciless. To its North is a giant roundabout fountain and identically shaped ministry buildings, says the paper.

The city has a telephone directory of 12 pages, which pales in comparison to the 470-page Rangoon directory.

According to the Government, almost a million people live in Naypyidaw.

The most surprising thing is the absence of the armed forces. The generals live in yet another zone, where soldiers parade before titanic statues of Burma’s ancient kings.

The generals, it seems, want to isolate themselves from the public, and according to diplomats accredited to Myanmar, this could lead to the regime’s downfall. (ANI)

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