A powerful cyclone killed more than 15,000 people and destroyed thousands of homes. Some dissident groups worried that the military junta running Myanmar would be reluctant to ask for international help.
Tropical Cyclone Nargis hit at a delicate time for the junta, less than a week ahead of a crucial referendum on a new constitution. Should the junta be seen as failing disaster victims, voters who already blame the regime for ruining the economy and squashing democracy could take out their frustrations at the ballot box.
Some in Yangon complained the 400,000-strong military was doing little to help victims after Saturday’s storm. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962. Its government has been widely criticized for human rights abuses and suppression of pro-democracy parties such as the one led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for almost 12 of the past 18 years.
Last September, at least 31 people were killed and thousands more were detained when the military cracked down on peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks and democracy advocates.
In northern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, however this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May. The later of these two periods has the higher relative temperatures as although the northeast monsoon does not directly effect the northern area of Thailand, it does cause cooling breezes from November to February.
The other northern season is from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in the north is at its heaviest.
The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons — the wet and the dry. These seasons do not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsular. On the west coast the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through to October, whilst on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December.
The Cultural Values of the Songkran Festival are expressed through the various ceremonies and rituals. The meaningful aspects of Songkran are culturally rich and varied in different parts of Thailand. The first cultural value is “Thanksgiving” – The demonstration of gratitude and an expression of thanks to individuals who have “done good” or shown goodwill and are worthy of respect and recognition.