As Myanmar burns, a dictator dreams big and shiny future

Original image: Paradox Interactive
Original image: Paradox Interactive

The economy has collapsed, schools are closed and health services failing amid a devastating crisis.

So what would make everything better for Myanmar? Certainly no one would think the answer was building a sexy subway system in its ghost city capital.

Certainly no one with the wisdom and foresight that comes with being a dictator, that is. A modern, urban transportation system, replete with bus stops and underground metro stations is exactly what junta leader Min Aung Hlaing ordered be designed and built on Tuesday.

At a meeting of the Naypyidaw City Development Committee, the senior general called for the development of Naypyidaw transit with a metro rail system and electric buses to residents.

He noted that the 9-year-old city was designed to accommodate up to 20 million people despite the fact fewer than 1 million live there. He said as cars and oxen frequent its streets, and, clearly looking pass the current carnage and calamity, sees a future where public transport and electric vehicles keep the future metropolis’ traffic in check.

He also opened up about his personal fancies of seeing railway museums built in both Naypyidaw and Yangon and urged all parties to think of Naypyidaw as a smart, green, and clean city, claiming it should be the center of international relations.

Good universities? Check. Green energy? Check. Ample industry? Yup, gonna have it all, he assured those present.

Meanwhile, international analysts believe starvation is a bigger concern as the country’s economic, education, and health sectors crumple six months after the military takeover.

The World Bank last month forecast that Myanmar’s people will go hungry as the economy contracts about 18% this fiscal year, which will have harmful consequences for the public.

“The loss from jobs and income and the increased risk to health and food security compound the social welfare challenges facing the poorest and most vulnerable, including those that have already been most affected by the epidemic last year,” said Mariam Sherman, the bank’s director for Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

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