Land Dispute Erupts Between Actor Lwin Moe and a KNLA Official

By Saw Yan Naing 3 January 2017

A land dispute has risen between the well-known Burmese actor Lwin Moe and a major with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), an armed ethnic Karen organization.

Both parties claim they own more than 2 acres near the famed Golden Rock in Kyaikto Township, Mon State. The KNLA, the military wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), controls some area in Mon State.

Speaking at a press conference in Rangoon on Monday, actor Lwin Moe told journalists that he purchased the land worth 400 million kyats (about US$300,000) in May 2016. However, KNU official Major Saw Nay Blut claimed he bought the land in 2001.

Lwin Moe said, “He [Maj Saw Nay Blut] said he bought the land on March 9, 2001. At that time, the KNU had not reached a peace agreement with the government. They were fighting. How did a KNU major buy land near Kyaikto [which is under the government control] while they were fighting?”

The KNU signed a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the government in 2012. It also signed the former government’s nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) in 2015, becoming one of the eight NCA signatories.

Lwin Moe questioned how the KNU major Saw Nay Blut could have 20 million kyats (about $15,000) at a time when many KNU leaders did not own businesses. Kyaw Thura Hlaing, the previous owner of the disputed land, spoke at the conference in support of Lwin Moe.

“I will take legal action against anything that will harm my dignity or my personal matters,” said Lwin Moe.

The KNU major plans to hold a press conference on Thursday and asks journalists to attend the event. In his invitation, Saw Nay Blut accused Lwin Moe and Karen State’s Border Guard Force (BGF) of unfairly occupying his land.

“Actor U Lwin Moe and armed BGF soldiers came in by force and built a fence on the land that I bought,” read the notice, adding that the press conference would stand to clarify the injustice.

Maj Saw Nay Blut who was also described in the letter as Aung Zabu Soe and managing director of a local company, Kaw K’Mu Khu Co., Ltd.

Lwin Moe is believed to have a good relationship with Maj-Gen Saw Chit Thu, the influential leader of the BGF in Karen State and a powerful businessman.

Sources close to the KNU headquarters, however, are unaware of the details of the dispute at this point. Major Saw Nay Blut is said to belong to the KNLA’s Brigade 7. The Irrawaddy couldn’t reach KNU leaders for comment on Tuesday.