Projects Approved by Previous Gov’t Should Not Be Abolished: State Counselor

By Htet Naing Zaw 23 January 2019

KALAY—Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said no investor would trust in Myanmar if a new government abolishes projects approved by its predecessor just because they do not comply with its policies.

Her comments were in response to a question posed by a student at a meeting with locals in Kalay Township in Sagaing Region on Tuesday.

“Suppose a foreign investor established a business and the government that approved that business then left office. If its successor terminates the project saying it did not approve it, then no businessperson would want to invest in this country,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

If the successor breaks a promise made by its predecessor, the country will lose its credibility, she said, adding that every government is responsible to protect the interests of the country.

Her statement coincides with widespread concerns among the members of the public over China’s attempts to resume the Myitsone Dam project in Kachin State which has been suspended for seven years.

U Thein Sein’s administration halted the $3.6 billion hydropower project in Kachin State’s Myitsone, at the source of the Irrawaddy River, for its term in response to massive public outcry.

Many opponents of the dam project, especially Kachin residents, hoped that the new government would terminate the project. Chinese Ambassador Hong Liang visited Kachin State at the end of December to meet the leaders of local political parties and social organizations.

Following his visit, the Chinese Embassy on Jan. 13 released a statement saying that Kachin people were not against the resumption of the dam project.

“The local people of Kachin State do not oppose the Myitsone hydropower project: it is some individuals and social organizations from outside that oppose the project,” said the statement.

The following day, prominent political parties in Kachin State called the Chinese embassy’s statement “inaccurate and misleading” and that the Kachin want to “permanently” shelve the project.

The government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has not released a clear statement on the project because it would be facing a political crisis, according to Lower House lawmaker N’Htng Hka Naw San representing Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State.

“If we terminate it, China will be angry. But if we approve it, there will be protests against us across the country as people do not support the project at all,” said the lawmaker who is also a member of the central executive committee of the ruling party.

Lower House lawmaker U Aung Thein of Bhamo Township in Kachin State said, “China never does a project if it is not beneficial to them. There is no such project that serves the interests of Myanmar. For example, take a look at the oil pipeline [from Rakhine to Kunming], only the signatories get benefits—not Myanmar people.”

While she was in opposition, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called for making the dam contract public. But nearly three years into her administration, she has not revealed the contract either.