Authorities Ramp up Security Measures at Tourist Sites

By Wai Wai Lwin 1 December 2016

RANGOON — Authorities are ramping up their security efforts around high-traffic tourist attractions in Rangoon and Mandalay, to include pagodas and crowded public spaces, after a series of small explosions struck four locations in Rangoon last month.

At Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Burma’s most-visited tourist attractions, visitors are no longer allowed to bring water bottles or energy drink bottles into the pagoda.

“The Rangoon bombs were created by putting explosive liquids inside glass bottles,” said U Tun Aung Ngwe, a Shwedagon Pagoda trustee. “So we are working to prevent a similar attack at the pagoda, like what happened in the bombing at the Rangoon divisional government office. We’ve started to improve our security measures.”

Staff at the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, one of the most famous religious sites in Mandalay, are boosting its security as well.

“We have received instructions from the divisional police, and we are enacting stricter security measures at the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda,” said U Soe Lin, chairman of the pagoda’s board of trustees.

“Also, some of our staff members are receiving extra security training from the local police. We have discussed with our staff members about monitoring those areas where we are responsible,” said U Soe Lin.

Local police were also providing security around the pagoda compound, which is located in an urban section of Mandalay.

The latest in the series of attacks—Friday’s bomb blast at the Rangoon divisional government office—caused no casualties, and nor did any of the previous bombings.  But the lack of statements from the authorities has left the public concerned and fearful.

“People will feel they are no longer secure,” said lawmaker U Nay Phone Latt, of the Rangoon divisional parliament, after Friday’s attack.

He also urged authorities to provide an explanation for the explosions.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” said the lawmaker. “This is an act meant to mock our security. Plus, it highlights how loose security is here.”