The White Elephant in the Room

10 Nov

From AP

White Elephants are a good omen in Southeast Asia. “To possess a white elephant was regarded (and is still regarded in Thailand and Burma) as a sign that the monarch reigned with justice and power, and that the kingdom was blessed with peace and prosperity.” (Wikipedia)

So the discovery and capture of one in Burma leading up to the elections, was, of course, a sign that all would go well for the struggling nation as it transitioned to democracy.

“It is auspicious that a rare white elephant emerged at a time when Myanmar was going through a democratic transition and the elections will be held peacefully and successfully”

-Burmese government official.

Thank god for that…

Election Recap


  • Election day fever takes Burma. Democracy inaction as the military junta kindly allows/forces the nation to vote for the military junta.
  • Freedom and fairness abound at the polls and no voter has any qualms about the predetermined results, the pre-cast ballots, or prevention of the opposition from freely campaigning/running for election.
  • China praises the ‘step forward’ that the elections represent.
  • Obama in India condemns the elections for being ‘neither free nor fair’.


  • Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) attacks Burmese army in Myawaddy,a border town. An RPG misses its target hitting the Thai side of the border near my town, Mae Sot (though not near enough for Mom to have to worry!). 30 reported injured in the fighting that ensued as the DKBA take some of the town. Clearly even the restoration of democracy to Burma doesn’t put a stop to the civil war between minority groups and the central government that has been ongoing since 1948.
  • Between 10,000 and 30,000 Burmese refugees (depending on your news source) cross the river into Mae Sot.


  • Burmese army takes back Myawaddy, though it is unclear if this ends the most recent conflict here on the border.
  • Refugees are forced back across the river into Burma.
  • My camp-pass is revoked, and I am forced to wait even longer before I can go to my placement and begin teaching. Obviously, the most tragic aspect of the week’s events.
  • The opposition concedes defeat, with the military backed party receiving an estimated 80% of the votes in the fake election.

Clearly the White Elephant prophecy was fulfilled, as the current regime maintained the full support of the nation in the first stolen elections in 20 years.

The U.S. elections are looking pretty good from here.



One Response to “The White Elephant in the Room”

  1. 6ntx January 13, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    I am amazed ( and dismayed) about what’s happening. I have tried to get onto the blog with my email but it hasn’t worked as yet. Please continue writing about what you’re seeing; your reports are invaluable as is your presence in Mae Sot. I do think you should show your blog to Nicholas Kristoff.
    Thank you and stay safe.
    Much love, Roberta

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