. The BBC’s Burma coverage since the cyclone always speaks of ‘generals’ or ‘the military’ when discussing the regime. After more than a week with no clue to the ideology of the regime in any of the reports I caught, I had to go to reference works and Wikipedia to discover that (quoting the latter):
Democratic rule ended in 1962 when General Ne Win led a military coup d’état. He ruled for nearly 26 years and pursued policies under the rubric of the Burmese Way to Socialism. Between 1962 and 1974, Burma was ruled by a Revolutionary Council headed by the general, and almost all aspects of society (business, media, production) were nationalized or brought under government control (including the Boy Scouts) …. Between 1974 and 1988, Burma was effectively ruled by General Ne Win through the Burma Socialist Programme Party …
(For the whole wikipedia entry on the involved history of military rule in the country, go here.)
This socialist origin and orientation of military rule in Burma seems to have been airbrushed out of routine BBC coverage. The mention of ‘generals’ and ‘military’ with no hint of their ideology has an obvious tendency to suggest a right-wing regime rather than the left-wing regime it more appears to be. Is this actual deceptive intent, unconscious prejudice, mere carelessness, mere brevity of reporting, mere ignorance, …? Take your pick.
[Added a few hours later] To be fair, I can believe the Burmese junta does not shout about ‘socialism’ as loudly now as in the days before the collapse of the Soviet Union (when it was more fashionable), and with frequent coups of one general against another it may be hard to say just what their current ideology is – beyond holding onto power, of course. I conjecture a situation similar to China: an unrepudiated socialist past but with little ideological rigour today. My reason for posting is that I found myself wondering whether, if the regime had a similarly-explicit right-wing origin, I would have found it equally easy not to hear of it during a week of coverage.
[highlighting of text in wikipedia quote added by me]