The general`s secret weapon
And just in case anyone had escaped my exposure of the REAL reasons for the $3billion investment, here it is again, with a few additions...

I suspect that the construction of the new Mandalay airport is another of the generals' attempts to acquire luck and magical power in their contest with the Lady -- this time by possession of a large white elephant.

In Burma as in most South and South-east Asia, the white elephant is traditionally regarded as semi-divine, and is treated with great veneration: "The 'Lord White Elephant'- or Sinbyudaw- commanded social status second only to the king in the hierarchy of the royal court.

Sinbyudaw were treated with reverence and had white parasols held over them wherever they went. Young white elephants were even suckled by women in the royal court who considered it a great honour to feed the elephant with their own milk"
(Asiatours history of Myanmar )

While it is unlikely that the members of the State Peace and Development Council will literally emulate the ladies of the Burmese court, we should not be surprised to read of senior officers walking round the airport, shading the runways with white umbrellas, or spraying them with milk from tankers ("donated" by local entrepreneurs).

What is certain is that the new Mandalay Airport is the biggest and most expensive Burmese White Elephant of recent days, and is thus likely to bring good fortune to those responsible.

The only problem is that the actual use of the airport by tourists and other foreigners, arriving in wide-bodied jets and wearing shoes, could well profane the site and thus reduce the benefit. With this in mind, the military junta will no doubt do its utmost to discourage tourism by stepping up the frequency of atrocities, increasing the penalties for foreign distribution of leaflets, maintaining current visa requirements and placing administrative obstacles in the way of air carriers and tour operators.

Oh yes, and making sure there is not enough generating capacity to avoid airport brown-outs at awkward moments. In fact they will do whatever it takes to keep the balance tilted towards them in their magical contest with the Lady.

David Arnott