Burma

Amid Killing of Protesters, Myanmar Coup Leader Opens High-End Military-Run Hospital

By The Irrawaddy 3 May 2021

In an apparent attempt to expand his military conglomerate, Myanmar coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has opened a new military-owned hospital in Yangon 91 days after seizing power from the country’s democratically elected government.

The opening of the new hospital came on Sunday, as the nation is still reeling from the brutality of his troops, who have killed more than 760 protesters across the country since the coup. On the same day, the regime’s forces killed at least five people and arrested several others for protesting against the junta.

The newly opened MoeKaung Treasure Maternal and Child Hospital has become the second “private” high-end hospital owned by the military after Kan Tha Yar Hospital on the shore of Yangon’s Inya Lake.

The new hospital will be the latest addition to the holdings of the military cartel in the country, where the men in uniform have enriched themselves through businesses ranging from banking to brewery to jade mines and more. Most of them operate free of civilian oversight.

The opening ceremony of the MoeKaung Treasure Maternal and Child Hospital in Yangon on Sunday. / Commander-in-Chief’s Office

According to Justice for Myanmar, a covert group of activists campaigning for justice and accountability for the people in the country, Kan Thar Yar International Specialist Hospital, opened in 2017 by the senior general, is a private for-profit facility under the military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). Profits from the hospital are off-budget and the hospital operates without civilian oversight. The same is true of the newly opened MoeKaung Treasure Maternal and Child Hospital.

The maternity and child hospital is located in the leafy compound of the Military Documentation Office in Yankin Township.

The opening ceremony was joined by the coup leader’s wife Daw Kyu Kyu Hla.

The senior general claimed the new hospital was built under his guidance to become an “internationally recognized” medical facility that could be relied on by citizens while promoting the “private health care” sector, according to military-owned Myawaddy TV. It said the hospital will provide maternal and child healthcare services such as in vitro fertilization procedures, storage of genetic items and genetic diagnostic work, among others.

The broadcaster quoted him as saying that, “We will try to get a ‘Joint Commission International’ certificate of international recognition [for the hospital].”

Given mounting global sanctions, including from the US and EU, against himself and his regime, and the fact that the junta has been shunned by the international community for its atrocities against its own people,  it is not clear how the junta plans to obtain such certification.

The putsch leader even said the new hospital aimed to act as a one-stop service center for patients with “reasonable service charges”.

However, given the room rates—which include some that run as high as 100,000 kyats [US$64] per day—the cost of treatment at the new hospital is evidently far from “reasonable”, as the senior general claimed; the majority of the people in the country are struggling to get by, as the economy has collapsed since the February coup.

So far, it’s not clear to what extent Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and his family are involved in the ownership of the hospital.

In March, the US imposed sanctions on two adult children of the junta leader in response to the coup and the military’s use of lethal force against peaceful protesters, calling for the reinstatement of the democratically elected civilian government.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on Aung Pyae Sone and Khin Thiri Thet Mon and six companies controlled by them.

The OFAC said the pair controlled a variety of business holdings that have directly benefited from their “father’s position and malign influence”.


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