Myanmar army MPs to take the mic in karaoke swansong
NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – The karaoke machine is ready and the lyrics have been hastily rehearsed as the former generals who have dominated Myanmar for decades prepare to belt out their last numbers as they exit parliament.
Swept from their seats by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party, outgoing army-backed MPs are taking a good-natured approach to their fall from power.
Parliament has opted to welcome the handover to the Nobel laureate's MPs with a party.
"I have composed a song to say goodbye to my friends at parliament," said Saw Hla Tun, a lower house MP for the Union Solidarity and Development party, an army proxy stuffed with former generals that has run Myanmar since 2011.
"The most important thing is unity. So I wrote a song about that, even though I have been very busy recently," he told Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding that he would not be singing the ditty himself, but would have a chorus of culture ministry officials perform it.
The camaraderie is in stark contrast to the repression that characterized the junta years when Suu Kyi and thousands of democracy activists faced prison and bloody crackdowns.
Nine MPs are due to belt out their farewells to music on Friday afternoon, January 29 at a banquet hall in the parliament, attended by lawmakers old and new.
These include upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint, a USDP heavyweight who regaled parliament with jokes in his parting speech Friday, even complimenting "The Lady" as Suu Kyi is known in Myanmar on her looks.
Even the parliament's normally po-faced military MPs – unelected soldiers account for a quarter of all seats in the national legislature – are believed to be planning to join the festivities.
A short video clip posted on Youtube showed one army MP rehearsing a favorite patriotic local number called "Our Union".
They could face a tough audience in the hundreds of new NLD MPs, who are mainly parliamentary novices, but who can boast several poets, a rapper and other entertainers among their ranks.
But NLD sources told AFP that it will not be over when "the Lady" sings – Suu Kyi is not thought likely to take to the stage today. – Hla-hla Htay, AFP/Rappler.com