Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mon bridge name a state matter: Union minister

NAMING a bridge in Mon State after national hero Bogyoke Aung San should not be decided by the Hluttaw as it is a state matter and should be settled by the local authorities and residents, Union Minister for Ethnic Affairs U Nai Thet Lwin said. 

“Naming a bridge shouldn’t have reached Hluttaw. We have state government and local residents. Mon State government will choose an appropriate name and if local residents accept it, it’s fine, and that’s all,” he said during lunch break of the Hluttaw meeting on March 15.

Moreover, he said, the matter was not submitted to the cabinet meeting.

“It wasn’t submitted to the [Union] cabinet meeting. It does not concern the [Union] cabinet. And it should not have reached the Hluttaw. It should have been settled at a lower level,” said U Nai Thet Lwin.

Naming the bridge over the Thanlwin River connecting Mawlamyine and Chaungzone in Mon State after Bogyoke Aung San is also questionable, he added.

“I wonder whether it is political exploitation. I don’t know who is encouraging it. I might have to face the NLD government over it. I would like to tell the media not to incite the issue,”
said U Nai Thet Lwin.

However, when Speaker U Win Myint put it to a vote after 15 Hluttaw representatives spoke on the bridge name, the motion to name it Bogyoke Aung San Bridge was approved with a majority vote from NLD representatives.

The Hluttaw’s approval of the bridge name without considering the people’s wishes was a dictatorial move, U Maung Myint, Hluttaw representative of Mingin constituency and a member of Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), told the media later.

“Whoever you ask – local resident, monk, historian or politician – you will get a different answer. There was a suggestion to name it Thamein Bayan Bridge. Another person preferred the name Thanlwin Bridge.

“If you ask a local from Mawlamyine, they would reply “Mawlamyine Bridge” and if you ask a local from Chaungzone, it would be “Chaungzone.” If you name it Mawlamyine-Chaungzone-Thanlwin Bridge, that may satisfy residents on both banks,” said Union Minister U Nai Thet Lwin.

The Hluttaw’s nod for the name Bogyoke Aung San Bridge has drawn the ire of most residents in Mon State and they plan to hold a protest over it on March 19, it is learnt.

“The construction of the bridge started during the term of previous government with a budget title under the name Thanlwin Bridge (Chaungzone). When it was completed, there were plans to change the name, leading to a dispute, and this may create anger among ethnic groups.

“The motion to name it after Bogyoke Aung San was supported and approved. It is made worse by the fact that the one who submitted the motion in Hluttaw is my daughter [Pyithu Hluttaw MP Daw Mi Kun Chan from Paung township constituency, Mon State],” said U Nai Thet Lwin.

– Translation by Zaw Nyunt