YANGON -- As protests in Myanmar against the coup continue for nearly a week, many civil servants have stopped going to the office in a sign of spreading civil disobedience.
Commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing called for their return in a televised speech on Thursday, but the younger generation -- unfamiliar with past military regimes -- is strongly opposed to the coup. This is worrying the military after its bloodless takeover on Feb. 1.
Mass street demonstrations continued on Friday, which was a public holiday. In Yangon, the country's largest city, protesters are growing in numbers, chanting "Free Suu Kyi" and "No more dictatorship." According to local reports, government employees rode motorcycles through the capital city of Naypyitaw on Friday while displaying the three-finger salute to show opposition to the coup.
After the takeover, an administrative council set up by the military appointed ministers in a bid to return to normality, but the civil disobedience among bureaucrats has alarmed the military.
Min Aung Hlaing said in a televised speech on Thursday that "Those who are away from their duties are requested to return immediately, in the interests of the country and people."
An employee of a Japanese company connected to Japan's official development assistance said, "Younger government employees in Naypyitaw are not coming to the office, and senior officials are switching to telecommuting." He said the ministry with which his company is working asked to continue construction work as scheduled, but it is unclear what the outcome will be.
Initially, the civil disobedience was led by young multilingual doctors from public hospitals who can read foreign websites. On the third day after the coup, they began asking medical staff to stop working in Yangon and other major cities. After that, the unrest spread to government offices.
One of the doctors who initiated the movement said, "I think 70% to 80% of medical workers in Myanmar are participating." According to the physician, doctors in Naypyitaw and Mandalay treating people who were injured on the streets.
Currently, Yangon's public hospitals are not accepting new patients due to the boycott and are providing only minimal care for existing inpatients. The state-run newspaper reported that military hospitals are continuing to see patients.
According to a local accounting office, many workers at tax and customs offices are joining the boycott, slowing down tax collections. If the demonstrations continue, the junta may find it difficult to secure revenue.
Many bankers are also participating in the civil disobedience after protesters used social media to rally workers in the financial sector.
In-person banking has been shut down at most branches. Although online banking and ATMs are operating, bank officials say that new loans, salary transfers and other administrative work have been halted.