Former top generals serenade lawmakers

A member of Myanmar's army and MP performing as the military elite marked their exit from Parliament with song and dance in Naypyitaw yesterday.
A member of Myanmar's army and MP performing as the military elite marked their exit from Parliament with song and dance in Naypyitaw yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NAYPYITAW • Belting out the lyrics "dreams may come true" in a jaunty a cappella, a former top general serenaded lawmakers yesterday as Myanmar's long-dominant military elite marked their exit from Parliament with song and dance.

Parliament welcomed the historic handover of power in the country with a party yesterday afternoon, complete with a karaoke session, sing-a-long and energetic dance routines by ethnic- minority MPs.

"May you be healthy/May you be strong/ May you be joyful all your life long," crooned Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann, the junta's former No. 3, who has become an unlikely ally of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in the legislature despite his erstwhile position as leader of the rival ruling party.

"Dreams may come true," his English-language song continued as he encouraged fellow MPs old and new to sing along to a tune he said he learnt at school.

Ms Suu Kyi had a front-row seat and kicked off the festivities with a speech of warm congratulations to the outgoing largely military- backed lawmakers for paving the way for her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to take power.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), an army proxy stuffed with former generals that has run Myanmar since 2011, has sought to respond with grace to the stunning victory of Ms Suu Kyi and her party in polls last November.

Other top performers yesterday included Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint, a USDP heavyweight who regaled Parliament with jokes in his parting speech yesterday, even complimenting "The Lady", as Ms Suu Kyi is known in Myanmar.

Some NLD members took to the stage for a colourful dance performance by ethnic-minority MPs.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Former top generals serenade lawmakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe