Govt to Address Illegal Immigration in Mandalay

Much of Mandalay’s main commercial area is now Chinese-owned—a source of growing discontent in the city since a wave of Chinese immigration began in the 1990s. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burma’s Ministry of Immigration and Population has begun to investigate the status of immigrants in Mandalay city in preparation for taking further action, according to Deputy Minister Kyaw Kyaw Win.

At a meeting of the Union Parliament on Monday, Kyaw Kyaw Win explained to lawmakers about the ministry’s national projects and its plan to tackle illegal immigrants in the ancient city.

On Feb. 15, Khin Waing Kyi, a member of the Upper House representing Rangoon Division, submitted an proposal related to illegal immigrants who cannot speak Burmese in Mandalay and asked the Union Parliament to verify their cases for further action.

In response, Kyaw Kyaw Win said that the ministry is in the process of examining the documents of residents suspected of possessing fake national identity cards. Those found to be non-citizens will have their papers revoked, and immigration officials who issued the IDs will also be charged, he said.

“The ministry is well aware of the need to systematically check to prevent people who cannot speak Burmese from entering and living in Mandalay,” said the deputy minister.

“If any irregularities are found, both the responsible staff and illegal immigrants will be charged. This process will be more effective if local authorities and residents cooperate with the ministry, so we ask for their cooperation a national duty,” he added.

Writer Hsu Hnget, a Mandalay resident, told The Irrawaddy that there are many illegal immigrants who can’t speak Burmese in his city, most of them Chinese. They began arriving in large numbers after 1990 and many previously Burmese-owned houses, buildings and businesses are now in their hands, he said.

“I’m sure there are many illegals living in Mandalay,” said Hsu Hnget. “After 1990, a lot of them came here—some as a result of the peace process, and some through connections with local authorities. They are Chinese and mostly from Yunnan Province.”

In the 1990s, Burma’s then military junta reached ceasefire agreements with a number of ethnic armed groups based along the Sino-Burmese border, including the ethnic Chinese Kokang and other groups with Chinese leaders.

Tin Tin Mar, a member of Mandalay Division Assembly from Chanayethazan Township, said that it is important to look at individual cases thoroughly while taking actions against illegal immigration.

“In verifying immigrants, the process will be quick enough if the ministry works together with local authorities,” said Tin Tin Mar. “They just need to do it thoroughly.”

According to Kyaw Kyaw Win, the verification process for illegal immigrants will cover the whole country and the ministry is also implementing a Permanent Residency system for foreigners.


29 Responses to Govt to Address Illegal Immigration in Mandalay

  1. 1990 was the beginning year for illegal immigrants?
    I have heard reports that many Chinese were issued with Myanmar citizenship cards (with color photos), signed by Lt General Khin Nyunt, whose name was preceded by 4 as his close associates of the same rank called him. Is that correct?
    Authorities, please check that too. For he is in no position to get involved in registration of citizens, who were already grown up and doing business.
    That would have “initiated” more and more abuse and misuse of authority in the immigration department, officials of which would have earned millions.

    • PB Publico,
      Khin Nyunt is a Chinese man and he and his disciples issued hundreds of thousands of citizenship cards to his own Chinese people. In return, the Chinese people gave them $ 300 per card. They worked through Ko Kang people who were in northern Shan State. Very convenient for Khin Nyunt to bring his own fellow Chinese into Burma since he was untouchable at that time. Ko Kang people trafficked drugs but no one dared to arrest them because they carried permits from Khin Nyunt.

  2. It’ll be very difficult big job for immigration department. Also it’ll create another opportunity for to corrupt immigration officers.
    I have met some of minority ethnics’ peoples who can not speak Burmese language but they can speak and write Mandarin Chinese in Shan State and Kachin State.
    In Mogok, I have met Gem merchant Li Shaw ethnic man he came down from mountain and to sell Sapphire and Peridot (Green color gemstone, it calls Pyaung-Gong-Sane in Burmese) similar to Emerald but less value. His village can be reached by horse or donkey or walking. He can speak and write Burmese and Chinese because he school in Mogok but his friend doesn’t understand Burmese. They said their village does not have Government school and some village teachers teach them how to read and write in Chinese because they can get Chinese book easier than Burmese School text book. They have to send their children to live with their relative for schooling in Mogok.
    These peoples have lot money but they do not dare to go out side Mogok in the past but they may be living and doing business in Mandalay with their educated children in these day. Also Wa, Lisu, Shan, Kachin and other ethnics who look like Chinese they can not speak Burmese will be among the victim of corrupted immigration officers even thought they carry genuine ID. Burmese authority must understand some of minority ethnics’ people couldn’t read or speak Burmese in Shan and Kachin states but they may be living and working in Mandalay.
    Actually illegal rich migrant Chinese who came from Yunnan may have carrying genuine Burmese National ID because corrupted immigration officer may have officially registered as Shan or Wa or Kokang ethnic in local immigration office when they obtained Burmese ID. So that ID is not just a card and officially recorded as Wa or Kokang or Shan ethnic in Burmese immigration department. Only laborer who can not spend a lot of money will carry only fake ID card. I think those illegal Chinese business owners have pickup some Burmese language and some of their children are graduated from College in Burma.
    Now it’s too little too late to catch some of illegal migrants.
    All border towns’ immigration officers have issued fake ID to Burmese and foreigner.
    In Kawthaung, the immigration officers sold fake ID for Thai B 1000 to seaman from Thai Fishing boats who want to return to their home and later most of immigration officers from Kawthaung were sacked from Immigration department.
    It’s important to verify Burmese citizen and illegal migrant in all states and not just in Mandalay. It should have been done 20 years ago.
    Government needs to erase culture of corruption in all Government departments.

    • Mr. Sai Lin Kan,
      Are you trying to tell us that many Chinese who speak no Burmese but live in Mandalay may not be from China? What was your point when you said that some ethnics in Burma are not speaking Burmese? We are not talking about the ethnics but thousands and thousands of Chinese in Mandalay who do not speak Burmese. Ethnics who live in Mandalay do speak Burmese. I think you miss the point here.

      • Ko Linyone,
        Please, go to visit minority ethnics’ villages in Shan state, Kachin State and Mogok (Mandalay Division) and then you will find yourself complete alien in the village. I’m not written base on hear say. I’m written and telling you base on my experienced. You have to read my comment very carefully. Sometime peoples do not read all and hurry to critics first.
        I’m just notice about our minority ethnics’ peoples who couldn’t speak and read Burmese may have living in Mandalay and doing business with assist by their children, to someone from Burmese authority who may visit Irrawaddy online news site regularly.
        I don’t want those minority ethnics’ peoples falling victim to corrupted immigration officers. Under dictatorship Ne Win, Burmese language was not important language for some of minority ethnics’ peoples in Shan and Kachin state. Also they live in too far from town and city but they have money and Gemstones. During the Ne Win era, those rich peoples are living very low profile in their village because of army and Government officials confiscating of their Ruby, Sapphire, Jade and other valuable property from them. After corrupted dictatorship Than Shwe took control the country, most of rich minority ethnics from Kachin state and Mogok region are coming out from hidden and doing business in city.
        Also, Chinese ethnic peoples are also living in Kachin and Shan states for hundreds of years before Burmese king conquered whole Shan state.
        Ko Linyone, I’m telling you about not all minority ethnics’ peoples living in Mandalay are speaking Burmese language properly but their children are Burmese educated. Also I want to suggest you for go visit to far northern Burma where Burmese minority ethnics’ peoples are living if you’re young. I believe young Burmese city dwellers should visit minority ethnics region for culture exchange and general knowledge on their minority brothers and sisters.
        The Chinese illegal migrant come direct from China is not my problem. It’s Burmese Government duty to clean up illegal migrants. However, they shouldn’t harass minority ethnics who look like Chinese and couldn’t speak Burmese properly for their money. Some of minority ethnics’ peoples speaking Chinese at home and their community.

    • They are engaging in gesture politics. Like when they started out with the democratization lark. Too little too late is exactly the point. It serves the purpose.

  3. It is about time to handle this issue eventhough it is decades late. A remark made by the Rector of Rangoon Teachers Training College long long time ago still rings in my ears ” In another 50 years time, Myanmar as we know it will disappear.”

  4. How did these Chinese who speak almost no Burmese became Burmese citizens? The military regime which betrayed our country are still in power and now they are trying to clean up their own mess. The current regime was part of Than Shwe’s rule. They are better not to behave like innocent people.

    The Chinese citizens bought the Burmese citizenship cards as low as $ 300 a piece. They enjoy life in both China and Burma whenever they want to. They are living like super people because of the corrupt officials in the time of Than Shwe’s reign. The problem is these corrupt military officers are still holding power and Thein Sein is putting them at the top positions. So, the current regime has to clean the mess.

  5. It’s a fact that there are a lot more illegal Chinese immigrants in Burma than illegal Rohingyas (or Bangladeshis) and last time I checked, Chinese are not among the 135 indigenous ethnic groups of Myanmar.

    • Now, I am confused. A lot of Burman rant racist diatribes claiming the Rohingya to be Bengali kalar. Bengali as in people of Bengal hail from Bengal state of India. This makes the Rohingya Indians, but not Bangladeshi. Unsurprisingly, Bangladesh does not want rohingya/Indians in their land considering their ongoing beef with India. However, I don’t understand burmen’s refusal to bring in their so-called blood brothers into their fold considering so many flowery comments left on India-related articles on this forum. SMH.

      Vive La Kachinland

      • Ko Nget – fyi, considerably over 95% of 160+ million Bangladeshis are Bengalis. The word Bangladesh itself means land (desh) of Bengal (Bangla). During the British period West Bengal (same name today as a state in India) had hindu majority and East Bengal (Bangladesh) had muslim majority – but almost all are Bengalis. Literature is the same, accent is different. (Overall there are around 250 million bengalis in existence). Movement of Bengalis to Rakhine has been from previous East Bengal and present Bangladesh due to proximity and sharing of border.

      • No wonder you are confused. In Burma a lot has to do with ethnicity and skin colour (even Obama is probably too black for Burmese tastes lol), rather than with legality or nationality. Chinese illegals are considered OK, especially in Kachin State or Mnadalay because they have money and have fairer skin than most Burmese. Just look at all the ads in the magazines and the movie stars in Burma. They all try to look like Chinese or Korean (or Jingpho perhaps?)
        Anyway Happy Smuggling in Kachinland!
        Vive la Zhong Guo!

        • See above comment left by Shwe Min, which is lucid, informative and fair. Your comment on the other hand provides nothing but attack and demean on someone because of one’s skin color. If people of your generation (you have claimed yourself to be in your 60, but your words hardly reflect wisdom of such old age) still judge another person based on skin color, I hope you’d die soon enough along with outdated ideologies such as killing for the sake of keeping the union intact.

  6. They let it happen and now the same people are trying to put a check on it because they want to get in the good books of the West. RMB to USD, it’s all about money to this ruling clique.

  7. Yeah! Many Chinese who do not speak Burmese are occupying many of our cities. Especially, Mandalay is becoming Chinese capital in Burma. If you go to Mandalay to find out, they will not talk to you because they do not speak Burmese. It means they are new comers. How do they become Burmese citizens? Who do we blame? Military rule was the blame and they sold Burmese citizenship cards to the Chinese. So, all immigration officers who worked from 1990 to 2011 must be investigated. This is not the Chinese issue but the corruption of the military government. Than Shwe is number one to be investigated. Khin Nyunt must be investigated too. Because they failed to serve and protect our nation. Many Chinese may have Burmese citizenship cards because the corrupt officials sold citizenship cards to them. The top persons to be investigated are Than Shwe and Khin Nyunt. They have to pay the price for treason.

  8. In Muse, selling Burmese ID cards to Chinese is (big) daily business. Everybody knows. It has been like this for ages. The government should crack down the corruption by its own officiaries, stopping the systematic fraud. But then a substantial number of officials will not be happy missing out 1000’s of dollars every week.

  9. Dear MPs,

    I hope you all know, unless you are too foolish and blind, that Mandalay, once the heart of the Burmese, has now been on the verse of being the “second Macau” in SE Asia as almost half of the population there are already Han Chinese coming from Yunnan Province of China with the blessings of the Burmese immigration officers for over the last 30 hears. Tibet was integrated and became part of China in 1950, and the Tibetan identities have been effectively and successfully destroyed within the last 60 years to the point of more than 100 Tibetans setting themselves in fire in desperate protest against the Chinese occupation. If things go this way for next decades, not centuries, Burma shall surely become the “second Tibet” in SE Asia, eventually resulted in the loss of not only the country but also the whole nation.

    I have lived in Mandalay for years, and I myself found countless Chinese, who can neither speak nor understand Burmese, and the Chinese continue taking the central Mandalay and the Burmese continue retreating to the slum areas, if not the rural areas. No question the military junta has been held responsible for those things as the personnels under this junta allowed those Chinese in exchange for money, and the same junta shamefully claimed to the public that they are protecting the country and the people. The immigration personnels took money from people flowing from Bangladesh and China, and Burma now faces an existential threat from both.

    History gently tells us that Assam State of India has seen the influx of people from Bangladesh for the last 30 years, and about 40% of the population in Assam now are those from Bangladesh, with the original owners of the Assam being pushed to the corner of the state. If you enter Assam State, you shall see a series of sectarian and ethnic conflicts between the real owners of the land and the aliens from Bangladesh, and it is predicted that some 20 years later, the aliens from Bangladesh will be majority in that state. The same shall take place in due course not merely in Mandalay, but also in the whole Burma.

    All in all, if Burma is to exist and survive on earth forever, you, MPs, must take all possible legal actions to stop this undeclared war perpetrated and perpetuated by both the Chinese and the Bengali with the blessings of the barbaric military junta of Burma.

  10. What do we do with the non-Kachin speaking, illegal Burman immigrants in kachinland? They moved in without invite. They make living by exploiting Kachin resources. They take advantages of the Kachin generosity.

    • Hi Thein_Nget, I totally agreed with you. Dictatorship Than Shwe destroyed local peoples livelihood in Kachin state and Mogok. Now the Gem mining in Mogok is monopoly by ex dictator Than Shwe and his generals’ cronies. I know same thing happen to Jade mining in Kachin state.
      Local peoples have nothing to do now.
      Burmese peoples think all minority ethnics’ peoples can speak Burmese language.
      I know some of Kachin, Lisu and other ethnics could not speak Burmese but they can speak and read Chinese instead of Burmese because of those peoples living far away from city and no Government school and clinic in their village. They think all Kachin villages and Shan villages have Government school and clinic. Dictatorship Ne Win and Than Shwe military regime only interesting in resources from minority ethnics’ area and they give nothing back to minority ethnics’ peoples. I hope President U Thein will change previous military regimes’ policy.
      I think Burmese peoples should learn minority ethnics’ language if they want to do business in minority ethnic state. You should deport those peoples who can not speak Kachin to Mandalay.

  11. They’ll give you Khin Nyunt but Than Shwe? Not a chance.

  12. Burman invades and occupy kachin, shan, chin, mom, karen, all ethnic land.

    Lets ethnic land be FREE! Let’s bring all issues UP.

  13. These are the words of an immigration officer who denied me access to a “restricted area for foreigners”: If you were chinese (++ and willing to pay a small fee, of course ++) there would be no problem.

  14. Burma is closer to becoming the status of “ျမန္မာျပည္နယ္ တရုတ္ျပည္သူ႕သမၼတ ႏုိင္ငံ”. All the major businesses are in the hands of Chinese and Indian most of them are illegal. Many of these illegals are as the result of corrupt “Burman – ဗမာ” officials. Burma has been under the control of “Burman – ဗမာ” ethnic since the independence in 1948. Before the independence, Burma was one of the most developed countries in South East Asia, and now it is one of the poorest countries on earth. Who is to blame for this? Just think about it.

    “Burman – ဗမာ” army is now fighting against peace loving minorities. The “Burman – ဗမာ” army is fighting the wrong enemy. The real enemy is not minorities but resource-hungry-and-greedy Chinese and Indian peoples. There will be no peace in Burma until the leaderships in “Burman – ဗမာ” government policy makers.

  15. It’ll be like opening a can of worms! It’s easy to say that the issue of illegal immigration should now be tackled when the root of the problem itself was the corruption in the immigration department selling national id cards to those who were not ‘;nationals’ in the first place. You can’t put in place a policy like Obama either. The military regime drove the people off their land and brought in those who were not of the land. Now the can of worms is in the hands of the quasi-civilian regime. I like to see the face of immigration officials.

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