The Straits Times
Published on Dec 31, 2012

Myanmar to welcome 2013 with first public countdown


YANGON (AP) - Myanmar will ring in the new year with its first public countdown and a grand fireworks display on Monday night in a celebration unprecedented in the former military-ruled country.

It's the latest, and perhaps most colorful, example of the country's emergence from decades of isolation.

Thousands were expected to attend the event at a large field in Yangon with a backdrop of the famed Shwedagon Pagoda, where the Myanmar public will get its chance to do what much of the world does every Dec 31.

Singers, celebrities, light shows and other festivities were planned for the public party, which would have been unthinkable under the former military regime that banned public gatherings.