Tue 31 Oct 2006
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Burma’s wedding of the year took place last July, but it’s again the talk of the town-following the release of video footage showing Snr-Gen Than Shwe’s daughter to an army major in a ceremony that has angered many because of its over-the-top opulence.
â€œPeople were shocked to see the extravagance of the wedding,â€ said a reporter with a Rangoon local journal. â€œThey’re asking themselves where the money came from in a country that ranks as one of the world’s poorest.â€
â€œPeople are just outraged,â€ said the editor of a business weekly. Viewers were offended not only by the extravagance of the event, where Thandar Shwe and her bridegroom, Maj Zaw Phyo Win, a deputy director at the Ministry of Commerce, were showered with expensive gifts, including luxury cars, houses and jewelry, but also by its crass lack of good taste. The total value of the wedding gifts was said to be a staggering US $50 million.
Rangoon journalists compared the wedding to the parties thrown by Burma’s late dictator Gen Ne Win. His birthday parties and the annual New Year flings for his favorite daughter were far classier, they say. But then, they recall, the Ne Win family had enjoyed the best education, were widely traveled and had acquired a sophistication that the Than Shwe clan painfully lack.
Than Shwe grew up in the provincial town of Kyaukse, near Mandalay, and his wife, Kyaing Kyaing, is a Pa-O from Mon State. They lived simply while Than Shwe was laying the foundations of his career as a regional commander in Irrawaddy Division.
In the comparisons now being made between the life styles of Ne Win and Gen Than Shwe, observers recall Ne Win’s 90th birthday party in early 2001, his last. Ne Win was accompanied to the event at Rangoon’s Hotel Sedona by his favorite daughter, Sandar Win and her husband, Aye Zaw Win.
Video footage of that event was also made public, but it was believed that Ne Win family members had engineered the leak to demonstrate that the old man was still going strong.
One year later, Ne Win was put under house arrest and his favorite grandsons were charged with treason. His favorite daughter, Sandar Win is still under house arrest.