RANGOON – Rangoon Division’s Security and Border Affairs minister Col Tin Aung Tun told reporters that the ministry would deploy around 6,000 police and 2,000 members from other relevant departments to collaborate in preventing crime during the Thingyan festival in April.
Rangoon divisional police held a coordination meeting at the regional government office on Wednesday morning. In attendance were 44 townships’ heads of police, township and district administrators, as well as several representatives from the department of justice and ministry of health.
According police Col Win Naing, the traffic police department, the Special Branch police, and the crime investigation department estimated a presence of around 6,000 police—including both uniformed and plain clothed officers surveilling each pavilion during the annual water festival. Around 2,000 people from the fire department, the Red Cross and the health ministry will also join the team, particularly when responding to emergency incidents in which first aid is required.
Regional minister Col Tin Aung Tun emphasized that arrests should be avoided at all costs, but that those who fail to adhere to rules set by the authorities should be temporarily detained.
He also urged officials to be vigilant in identifying the distribution of drugs or sedatives that could be used to commit rape.
Col Tin Aung Tun remarked that security during the Burmese New Year water festival remains one of the main challenges of police work, and encouraged officials at the Wednesday meeting to not hesitate to call regional government offices if they notice suspicious behavior during Thingyan.
“Make direct phone calls to give real time information to us, if there is something abnormal on the ground,” he said.
During the meeting, the border affairs minister asked general administration officials from Rangoon’s various townships to deliver comprehensive reports to the divisional government office after the Thingyan days conclude. The report, he said, should include recommendations regarding the preparation for Thingyan in 2018.
An attendee at the meeting representing the Justice Department said that they would open every township courthouse from April 13 to 16 in order to address legal cases in a timely manner. Prosecutors would also serve during these days, she added.
“The court will oversee in line with the law if someone complains about drunk and disorderly conduct,” she said.
Police Maj U Myint Htwe of the eastern district said they would patrol Rangoon with mobile teams, focusing on crowded places including parks and stadiums.
Police Maj Hla Wai told reporters that the government had categorized three types of pavilions, according to size. The government will allow 22 pavilions up to 100 feet wide, 11 pavilions between 50 and 100 feet wide, and 27 small pavilions under 50 feet wide. Most of these pavilions will be located in Rangoon’s western district.
According to Maj Hla Wai, at least 20 policemen will be assigned to each pavilion. He also reiterated that the selling of illegal liquor and bottled beer near pavilions would be prohibited. Although a complete ban on alcohol during Thingyan is unrealistic, police officials defended the restrictions, pointing out that beer bottles could potentially be used as a weapon in a quarrel.
“We exchanged the beer [from glass bottles] to plastic bottles and plastic [bags] last year,” he said, noting that the suggestion to do so came from youth in the community. This type of policing, he said, would improve the image of law enforcement in the commercial capital.