Yangon: Military-ruled Myanmar unveiled a
new national flag on Thursday, just two weeks before an election
that the government calls a major step in a transition to
democracy but critics say is a sham.
Government offices replaced the old standard with the
new one at exactly 3 p.m. At a fire station in central Yangon,
blue-uniformed officers lined up at attention during the
The new flag has horizontal stripes of yellow, green
and red with a big white star in the middle.
The announcement of the new flag was made on state
television just prior to the ceremonies, which were supposed
to take place simultaneously all over the country.
"We received the instruction to bring down the old
flag and to fly the new flag at 3 p.m.," said an education
officer in Pathein township in Irrawaddy Division, who added
that shortly before the ceremony his office still had not
received its replacement.
The 2008 constitution pushed through by the military
called for fresh national symbols, including a new flag whose
colours of yellow, green and red would stand for solidarity,
peace and tranquillity and courage and decisiveness. Still,
the abrupt release of the new flag came as surprise.
The Nov. 7 election is the first since 1990, when the
National League for Democracy party of detained Nobel Peace
Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory but
was not allowed to take power. Critics of the junta charge
that the new constitution and new election laws are written to
ensure that the military continues to be the country`s
dominant political force.
A yellow, green and red flag was used during the
Japanese occupation in 1943-1945, though the emblem in the
center then was a dancing peacock. A fighting peacock is a
symbol used by the country`s democratic opposition, including
Suu Kyi`s now-disbanded party.
The flag being replaced, introduced by the socialist
government of late strongman Ne Win in 1974, has a red field
with a blue rectangle in the left corner bearing a cog wheel
and a rice plant encircled by 14 stars representing the
country`s seven regions and seven states.