Myanmar State Counselor to Attend Religious Event Organized by Pa-O Militia

By San Yamin Aung 18 November 2019

YANGON—Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will attend a Buddhist religious donation ceremony hosted by ethnic Pa-O leader U Aung Kham Hti in Kyauk Talone Gyi Subtownship in Shan State, according to the Pa-O National Organization (PNO).

Once counted among Myanmar’s many ethnic armed groups, the PNO signed a ceasefire with the military regime in 1991, transforming itself into a political party with a militia that manages security in the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone. Its leaders remain close to the military and the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

The patron and former chairman of the PNO, U Aung Kham Hti, is organizing a religious ceremony at Maharbawdi Pagoda in Kyauk Talone Gyi Subtownship for Wednesday that will include an offering to 528 monks. The patron has invited the State Counselor, according to PNO spokesperson Khun Kyaw Aye.

“We invited state leaders and also the Shan State government. We are glad that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will make it,” he said.

In June this year, Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing also made a visit to Shan State and met with U Aung Kham Hti to discuss regional development, according to state-run media.

The State Counselor’s attendance at a religious ceremony hosted by a Pa-O leader is unprecedented. It will be her third visit to Shan State this year, following her visits in October and February.

The PNO spokesperson said he doesn’t know whether Myanmar military leaders will also come to the ceremony.

A Shan State lawmaker said the State Counselor will arrive in Taunggyi, the state capital, on Tuesday and is scheduled to meet with the public in the evening.