CROSS-POSTED AT HARRY’S PLACE.
In Mort, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, the Grim Reaper’s apprentice dispatched the soul of the Grand Vizier of the Klatchian Empire. Nine Turning Mirrors had been a bad man, and was plotting to assassinate the Emperor in order to maintain control for himself.
His bluff called, he ate a poisoned dish under threat of disembowelment and, when emerging as a shade, found himself surrounded by the shades of Emperors and courtiers and others whom he had had killed in the past. They all appeared very anxious to welcome Nine Turning Mirrors’ shade into the Netherworld.
As the Grim Reaper’s apprentice was leaving, Nine Turning Mirrors’ shade began to scream.
Burmanet News carries an article by Aung Zaw, the editor of The Irrawaddy, an online newspaper concentrating on Burma. He suggests that Than Shwe, the quixotically titled Senior General amongst the Burmese military junta fears a similar fate as that seen by Nine Turning Mirrors.
Where Than Shwe lacks Nine Turning Mirror’s verbal intelligence and quick wit, he makes up in loutish obsession with Buddhist superstition. Having recently returned from pilgrimage to the Bodh Gaya temple in India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment (and proudly clutching a gift of Matatma Gandhi’s bust), he now has acquired a white elephant from the jungles of Arakan.
Such creatures are thought to demonstrate a monarch’s right to rule in South East Asia, and the self-convinced Crown Prince Shwebomin II has seized upon the opportunity.
Yet, this has not dispelled his lingering fear of encountering the shades of those his regieme had had killed. In his Burmanet News article, Aung Zaw an increasingly obsessive fear of assassination attempts.
This is not without cause, as in August the Karen National Union came within a gnat’s crotchet of assassinating the Chief of Ministry Affairs Security, General Ye Myint. In April, the Lunar New Year celebrations in Rangoon were marred by a series of murderous bombings by as-yet unidentified groups.
Yet, Aung Zaw reports that Shwe fears snipers and suicide-bombers. Although sudden sniper attack against political foes are not without precedent in the region, rebel Thai General Seh Daeng was against the status quo. Likewise, unprecedented kamikazi-style attacks on Burmese Police stations aside, this aint Sri Lanka.
Perhaps, at the back of his mind, Than Shwe fears that the political change heralded by the emergence of a white elephant will not be to his benefit; and is repositioning himself politically, as his predecessor, Ne Win did prior to the aborted 1988 democratic elections.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, as a bunch of vacuous numpties suggest moving Tony Blair’s autobiography to the crime section, North Korean diplomats are burglarizing homes in Rangoon and ‘confiscating’ copies of a biography of Kim Jong-il by Hein Latt, a Burmese author. This comes shortly years after restoration of diplomatic ties; caused by a North Korean assassination attempt of the then Southern President during a State visit in 1983.
UPDATE – the shade of Windle Poons has pointed out that Nine Turning Mirrors was the Grand Vizier of Agatean not Klatchian Empire.