Irrawaddy Locals to Name Island in Honor of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

By Salai Thant Zin 31 January 2018

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region — Local residents in Irrawaddy Region’s Shwe Thaung Yan town are planning to name an island after State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Locals of Jate Lat have chosen to name Pontamau Island–also known as Pan Ta Pwint meaning ‘one flower’–in her honor.

“Even Norway has a park named after Daw Aung Suu Suu Kyi, but our country still doesn’t have a significant monument to our leader,” U Yan Naing, administrator of Jate Lat village in Shwe Thaung Yan town, told The Irrawaddy.

“So, we’ll name this island after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to honor a leader who is establishing a good system for the country,” he added.

The island is situated near Jate Lat village in Shwe Thaung Yan town in the northwest of Pathein, the capital of Irrawaddy Region. It covers more than 46 acres and is fringed with coral reefs. The wooded island is home to birds, deer, sambur, monkeys and reptiles, and locals have conserved the island and imposed a ban on cutting wood, hunting and fishing, and the extraction of gravel and sand.

The island is also a natural barrier for coastal villages against storms and tidal waves, and serves as a shelter for vessels during stormy weather, locals said.

“This island is invaluable for locals. It serves as a shield against storms and tides. We’ve therefore conserved this island and agreed to name it after Mother Suu, who we admire,” said U Myint Lwin, a community elder of Jate Lat village.

Locals and civil society organizations have formed a committee to name ‘The Lady Island’ and will seek the approval of concerned regional authorities.

“Locals want to name the island after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The committee currently is focused on promoting tourism to the island while conserving its ecosystem,” said U Tin Lin Aung of the Pathein-based Green Peasant Institute (GPI), who serves on the committee.

If approved by the Union government, the committee plans to place a statue of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the peak of the island, and a signboard detailing her life.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been very dutiful to Myanmar, but western countries have withdrawn the awards that they have given to her. So we thought that if we name an island in our region to honor her, no one can strip her of it,” said local U Tun Tun Naing.

Legend has it that there were a brother and a sister on the island, and when the brother went fishing in the sea, the sister always wore a flower and waited for her brother at the peak of the island.

Looking from afar, locals say the island looks like a sleeping woman.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.