Slipper-gate: Myanmar president taken to task over footwear choice

Myanmar president Win Myint gives his inaugural address to parliament on March 30, 2018. Photo: Office of the President
Myanmar president Win Myint gives his inaugural address to parliament on March 30, 2018. Photo: Office of the President

“I’m so ashamed, oh President.” Strong words to levy against head of state.

What could President Win Myint have possibly done? An extramarital affair? A corruption scandal that goes all the way to the top? Or was it simply a questionable choice of footwear during a leisurely stroll in Yangon over the Thingyan holiday?

If you guessed the latter, congratulations.

In a viral post, Facebook user Ko Aung took the politician and former political prisoner to task on Wednesday for wearing rubber slippers during a walk around Yangon, pointing out the humble choice by the 68-year-old, helpfully marked with red circles in two blurry pictures focused on the president’s feet.

In contrast to his signature traditional Burmese style — complete with a taikpon, a Manchu Chinese-syle jacket, and a longyi bedecked with indigenous Burmese patterns — the rubber shoes do stand out as a bit of a fashion faux pas.

His tongue firmly in cheek, Aung continued, saying the “honest” president simply wore what he had, rather than splurging on expensive shoes. He then compared his style to the way he ruled the country: “steadfast.”

President U Win Myint accepts Letters of Credence of Ambassador of LaoH.E. Mr. Heuangseng Khamdalavong, the…

Myanmar President Office 发布于 2019年4月10日周三

Netizens were quick to join in the fun, with some pointing out that the president’s monthly salary of 5,000,000 kyats ($3,200) was enough for a wardrobe upgrade, while others pointed out that as he clearly wasn’t spending much of his paycheck, maybe he should instead give the majority of it back.

Others, however, came to the president’s defense, offering spirited — and pragmatic — explanations for his footwear choice.

“During Thingyan, your shoes will get wet. so that’s why the president is wearing rubber slippers,” argued one Lann Pya Thu.

Whatever the reason is, it’s clear that that future leaders of Myanmar have pretty big slippers to fill.

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