City Rejects Rangoon Environmentalists’ Trash Offensive

By Zarni Mann 20 May 2013

Environmental activists and celebrities who had planned to clean up Rangoon’s litter-strewn streets and public spaces over the weekend were prevented from doing so by the city’s Municipal Committee.

The group, led by Free Funeral Service Association founder and former Burmese actor Kyaw Thu, began the campaign on May 11 at North Okkalapa and Pansodan townships. The activists were seeking to educate the public on the importance of refraining from littering and instead disposing of waste properly.

The group’s plan to pick up trash at public places in Rangoon’s downtown area on Saturday was announced on Kyaw Thu’s Facebook page, soon catching the attention of writers, celebrities and young children, all of whom expressed interest in joining the campaign.

“As the news spread through Facebook, we got a call on the morning of May 18 that we were not allowed to do so, without giving any reason,” said Myint Myint Khin Pe, the wife of Kyaw Thu.

“They might think that our action is affecting their work somehow. But it is neither to condemn the municipal department nor to highlight their weak points. At least, this would have helped them [the Municipal Committee] to educate the people on how to manage waste and how to throw it away properly.

“Actually, we had submitted letters [detailing the group’s intentions] to the Municipal Committee for this. We do not understand why this happened. However, we will find another way to educate the people on how to keep their city clean,” she said.

According to local residents, Burma’s increasingly trash-ridden commercial capital is suffering from an inadequate waste management system and a public in need of greater environmental awareness.

“Municipal [authorities] are only able to clean certain areas while people continue to litter. We can’t blame only municipal [authorities] but also the littering habits of the people,” Myint Myint Khin Pe said.

She added that Saturday’s prohibited event aimed to prevent Rangoon from “becoming a rubbish city.”