Junta-staged rally struggles to stir disapproval of opposition
The country's equivalent of a communist political party appears to be wilting in the harsh glare of popular derision.
When the regime organised one of its 'spontaneous' political rallies last Saturday in Mandalay, the Union Solidarity and Development Association played a relatively low-key role.
The rally was designed to suggest there was public disapproval for the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) on the 10th anniversary weekend of its creation. Protesters were allegedly expressing their 'genuine anger at detractors and subversives' seeking to 'wreck peace and stability'.
The target is of course the NLD and its recent creation of a committee to represent a 1990 parliament that - had the military allowed it to convene - the party would have dominated.
Estimates are that more than 20,000 unhappy demonstrators answered the call.
Perhaps so. But the statement may have given the game away in stating that they were 'businessmen, entrepreneurs, merchants, traders, shopkeepers and ordinary citizens'. Many of them were, in other words, people who probably had little choice but to attend if they wanted to continue in business.
The New Light of Myanmar said over the same weekend that the representatives of 24 'social and economic organisations' were also present.
These organisations ranged from the local branch of the Red Cross Society and the Motion Picture Association, to the Oil Dealers' Association and the Auxiliary Fire Brigade.
If there was still any room for 'ordinary citizens' they attended only because the only alternative was to pay a fine.
But why not simply parade the local branch of USDA - the regime's civilian arm that has spread its tentacles throughout the country? 'It's just terribly unpopular,' said one opposition activist who recently emerged from Burma.