Referendum during a national disaster

Photo Sen. Gen. Than Shwe from News Today

Senior General Than Shwe (Myanmar junta leader)The referendum in Burma (the country whose military dictators choose to call Myanmar) went ahead on Saturday, and thanks to soldiers with guns ensuring that people not only obeyed the law by voting, but could not vote “NO”. The military who rule the country were pleased, their state media which gives little coverage to the cyclone disaster which has already killed tens of thousands reported a “massive turnout” and said that polling stations were kept open longer to deal with the queues.

Meanwhile Radio Netherlands reports:

The relief effort is still facing difficulties, largely because
Myanmar’s military rulers is continuing to bar foreign aid agencies.
Local doctors say the situation is chaotic: hospitals are overcrowded
and medicine is in very short supply.

There are also reports that:

The generals appeared on TV handing out boxes on which, in a clumsy
publicity stunt, they stamped their own names over those of the
original donors.

I guess as Ruth writes the only “good news is that because foreign aid workers are prohibited from helping, the local churches are the ones being resourced to help their own communities.” Which is not only a sensible approach in the circumstances, but a much more development-friendly policy.


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