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After 44 Years, Southeast Asian Games Return to Myanmar

Opening ceremonies of the 27th Southeast Asian games in Myanmar. Photo from official Facebook page of SEA Games

Opening ceremonies of the 27th Southeast Asian games in Myanmar. Photo from official Facebook page of SEA Games

After 44 years of long absence, South East Asian Games have once again returned to Myanmar. The last time Myanmar hosted the game was in 1969 in Yangon. The opening ceremony for the 27th SEA Games was held in the new capital city of Nay Pyi Taw on December 11 with the international media describing it as Myanmar's ravishing coming out party. Actually, the government has conducted an aggressive SEA games awareness promotion in the country many months before the event. To add a little bit of spice to what international and domestic media have reviewed, here are what netizens inside the country have been commenting throughout the games.

The opening ceremony was enthusiastically received and acclaimed by many people. Aye Chan Mon shared[my] an article dedicated to the opening ceremony of the SEA games.

The 27th SEA Games opening ceremony was celebrated on 11th December. I'm not saying this because I am a Myanmar. But I am very proud as a Myanmar citizen for holding the ceremony with such splendor. It has been many years that we have been afraid doing any events in the country. I would like to say that now we have seized our chance to reconstruct our dignity as Myanmar.

However, there are also people who tend to think negatively and are posting on Facebook to criticize. Everyone has the freedom to criticize. I could not do anything but feel sad to see the criticism by our own people.

Instead of blaming among ourselves, I turn away to discover what international media are saying about the ceremony. [...]

Then the article described the reviews written by the foreign media such as Malaysian Insider, Asia One, The Times of India, The Chronicle Journal and Bangkok Post. At the end, the author concluded by saying:

[...] Anyway if we look at the international reviews, there are more praise than criticism that we have performed beyond their expectations. Let's think of this successful celebration of this ceremony as opening a door to the international community or the beginning of our path away from the dictatorship or our official announcement to the world.

Official mascot of the 27th SEA Games

Official mascot of the 27th SEA Games

Demo Wai Yan wrote in his blog[my]:

[...] We can see that there are many different views on the 27th SEA Games which we can have in our own land after 44 years. But we need to distinguish between our views.

Our athletes are trying very hard to bring their best for the game that is being held in our own land. Today the competition of Myanmar athletes is not like making a propaganda film of the military regime but they are trying all they can for the country's image. In this moment we have to support the athletes whether they win or lose. [...]

Meanwhile, a minor riot broke out near the stadium in Yangon on December 16 when Myanmar lost to Indonesia 1-0 in football and could not make it to the finals. Naturally, there was a huge public disappointment on the performance of the Myanmar football team. Zaw Htet Han expressed[my] his thoughts about the riot:

There is vandalism even in the countries that are successfully practicing democracy. And there are also pyromaniacs. Forget about the immature question whether Myanmar deserves democracy. Every single country in the world deserves 100 percent democracy.

Myanmar's performance in the games reflected[my] the country's weaknesses, according to Khin Maung Nyo:

At the moment, I am seeing things differently. I see that the football match (especially the ones we lost) represent our weaknesses in economy and administration. It reflects the gap in our expectation and the reality, and our need for the development of human resources in different fields. This cannot be done within a day or a night. It takes time.

On the other hand, the women football team was cheered by everyone for their giving their best even though they only got a bronze medal instead of gold. Myanmar Political Jokes congratulated[my] the women's team:

Although they lost unfortunately after the penalty shoot out, it was obvious that they have given their best for the country. We are very proud of the Myanmar women football team. It was a very exciting match for the thousands of audience in the stadium, in front of the TV and living abroad. It feels almost crazy to watch both team playing intensely. Actually the Myanmar audience are not blind about winning or losing. Audience knows if players have really tried. And we are not afraid to face the failure.

People did not lose their mind for no apparent reason when Myanmar lost to Indonesia the other day. The audience who went to the match knew that the Myanmar men's football team had played not seriously enough to win the game. This is why 60 millions fans were angry.

Today even when the women team has lost the game, we are very proud of them. They have tried all their best until the end for the country.

Ye Htut also praised[my] the team:

Thank you, young heroines for making Myanmar audience happy.

Their coordination, team spirit and selflessness are the examples that not only the footballers but also all of us should take.

After the closing ceremony, he also highlighted[my] the victories of ethnic athletes:

[...] 180 of the medals were obtained by the ethnic athletes such as Kachin, Kayar, Chin, Mon, Shan and Rakhine. When we said that we are going to have these games, people from both inside and outside the country have doubted if we would have the ability. They asked whether Myanmar athletes would be able to do that.

Now, together with all the ethnic people in the country, we have proven that they are wrong.

With this kind of spirit, let us journey to the future country.

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