Protestors Step Up Opposition to Mon State Bridge Name

By Hintharnee 31 March 2017

MOULMEIN, Mon State — Protestors said they would step up opposition in Mon State against the naming of a bridge across the Salween River as Gen Aung San Bridge.

U Min Min Nwe, a member of the committee that will lobby the government to change the name to Salween Bridge (Chaungzon), said the committee would attempt to hold talks with the president and the state counselor through the ethnic affairs ministry.

Earlier this month, the Lower House approved the proposal of National League for Democracy (NLD) Paung Township lawmaker Mi Kon Chan to name the bridge linking Mon State’s capital Moulmein and Chaungzon Township after independence hero Gen. Aung San, despite local objections. The decision triggered a demonstration of some 20,000 Mon locals who protested the name on March 12.

“We’ve adopted a three point plan. First, we will ask Upper House lawmakers to propose that their chamber review the Lower House decision. Second, we will consult with legal experts regarding ethnic groups losing their rights and we will file a complaint to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. Third, we will approach the ethnic affairs minister to meet with the president and state counselor,” Ko Min Min Nwe explained.

He added that the committee devised its plans at a meeting on Wednesday based on public and media responses and well as feedback from members of Parliament.

Nai Win Hla, the person in charge of New Mon State Party (NMSP) internal affairs, told The Irrawaddy that the ethnic party agreed with Mon locals.

“There is no reason [the government] can’t build national reconciliation if it is willing. It needs to restore ethnic identity. Only then will there be trust among ethnic groups to build a federal Union, which all aspire to,” he said.
Construction of the bridge began in Feb. 2015 and was scheduled for completion in March 2017.

According to unconfirmed sources, the bridge was slated for official inauguration on April 9 in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s presence.

The NLD, Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), National Unity Party, Mon National Party and All Mon Region Democracy Party will contest the Chaungzon Township by-election on April 1 for a seat in the Lower House.