Feature

The man who mocks tyrants

Maung Thura may be Myanmar

The man who mocks tyrants Maung Thura may be Myanmar’s funniest dissident, says Christopher Rhoads in The Wall Street Journal. Thura, a comedian, is considered Myanmar’s Charlie Chaplin, and he has been mocking his country’s military junta for two decades. “Every country has a success story,” says Thura, who goes by the stage name Zarganar (which means “tweezers”). “Here we have generals able to rule a country for 40 years with no brains.” When military leader Gen. Than Shwe’s daughter gave birth a little too soon after her marriage, Zarganar observed dangerously, “In other countries, instant noodles and instant coffee are popular. Only in Burma are there instant babies.” His latest gag involves President Bush, Than Shwe, and Chinese president Hu Jintao paying a visit to God. “Bush asks God, ‘When will the U.S. become the most powerful nation in the world?’ God replies, ‘Not in your life,’ driving Bush to tears.” When Hu asks when China will become the richest nation in the world, God replies, “Not in your life,” driving Hu to tears. Finally, Than Shwe asks when Myanmar will have enough water and electricity. God says, “Not in my life!” and bursts into tears. Zarganar’s cheekiness has gotten him locked up repeatedly, but he is unbowed. When his wife called him from exile during the recent crackdown and urged him to go into hiding, he said, “I have nothing to hide. With my bald head, they’d recognize me right away.”

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