Locals Vow to Continue to Protest Mon State Bridge Name

By Nyein Nyein 9 March 2017

MOULMEIN, Mon State — Local residents vowed to continue protesting the naming of a new bridge across the Salween River in Mon State after Burma’s independence hero Gen Aung San on Thursday.

The organizing committee lobbying the government to change the proposed name of the bridge linking Moulmein (Mawlamyine) and Chaungzon townships said they sent a letter to the Union government on Thursday urging them to quickly change the bridge’s name to reflect local opinion, according to community leader and committee member Mi Kun Chan Nom.
“If the government does not plan to change the name, as we said in the letter we will continue our protests,” she said.

Over 3,000 people protested last Thursday near the bridge construction area after the Union parliament’s lower house agreed Mon State’s Paung Township lawmaker Mi Kon Chan’s motion to name the bridge after Burma’s independence hero on Feb. 28 .

The lower house lawmaker said that local people “should not be narrow-minded,” regarding the naming of the bridge, when referring to the public outcry.

Although still under construction, the bridge was supposed to open last month to coincide with Gen Aung San’s birthday on Feb. 13. Locals’ complaints have heated up since then.

Using a local name had been decided by the Mon State government under the ex chief minister U Min Min Oo, said U Aung Naing Oo, deputy speaker of the Mon State parliament, who represents constituency one of Chaungzon Township.

He told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that locals are worried about the Union enforcing a name that locals have already objected to.

U Aung Naing Oo confirmed that he did not accept the title of “General Aung San Bridge” and said that the name was not considered at the beginning of the project.

He said that last week’s protest—which he also took part in—did not mean the local Mons do not admire the national hero, they simply demand “reasonable action” and for the government to respect the desires of locals.
“The Union parliament should have asked the opinions of the state parliament, but they did not. They are making decisions themselves,” said the deputy state speaker.

“If the bridge is named as Yamanya [Mon State in Mon Language] bridge, we won’t object as it reflects the locality,” Mi Kun Chan Nom said. “It is important to have a title which is relevant to our area.”