Military MPs Stand Up To Copper Mine Criticism

By Yen Saning 26 February 2016

RANGOON — Military lawmakers in Burma’s Lower House of Parliament on Friday rejected a statement read by a National League for Democracy (NLD) MP on the controversial Letpadaung copper mine, expressing their opposition by collectively standing up.

Kyaw Aung Lwin, an NLD MP representing Sidoktaya Township in Magwe Division, was speaking in support of a proposal tabled by Khin San Hlaing on Thursday requesting that the government address the apparent quick-fire sale of state-owned land and projects during the country’s protracted transition period.

Kyaw Aung Lwin began speaking about the Chinese-backed Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Division, which has drawn sustained opposition from locals and been the site of several crackdowns by authorities. He described the suffering of local residents due to the project, drawing a warning from the Lower House speaker for veering off the topic of the proposal.

Military MPs reacted by standing up as a group and cutting the NLD member off before one of their number, Moe Kyaw Oo, responded by detailing various facts and figures related to the project.

He said a new contract was inked, according to the advice of a review committee that was headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, and that $US2 million would be put toward “rehabilitation” when the project was concluded.

Lower House lawmakers ultimately voted to pass Khin San Hlaing’s original proposal, with 271 of 437 attending MPs in favor, 128 rejections and seven abstentions.