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Military representatives war masks during a session of parliament, Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Military representatives wear masks during a session of parliament, Naypyidaw, Myanmar, March 11, 2020 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

As COVID-19 Hits Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Military Seek an Electoral Edge

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Myanmar’s official public messaging about the coronavirus pandemic began with a video. To airy elevator music and a placid voiceover, Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, stood in a nondescript bathroom and demonstrated the proper way to wash hands. It all seemed very calming and benevolent, with Suu Kyi acting out the maternal role she is accorded by her supporters.

Before the video was posted online on March 21, the government also established a coronavirus task force. But all the while, it sought to downplay the likelihood that COVID-19 would wreak havoc in Myanmar to the same degree it had elsewhere. When the first positive cases soon cropped up, Suu Kyi opened a Facebook account—her first, and likely an attempt to better personalize her relationship with the public—to, as she put it, “communicate faster and more efficiently” on coronavirus-related developments. ...

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