Rangoon Police Take the ‘Night’ out of ‘Nightlife’

By Moe Myint 11 May 2016

RANGOON — Nightclubs, karaoke lounges, massage parlors, beer stations and bars are being forced to shut their doors by 11 pm in Rangoon, according to Kyaw Naing, manager of Pioneer Club, a nightclub located in the Yangon International Hotel complex in Dagon Township.

An employee at Family KTV, a karaoke parlor in Bahan Township, said that the restrictions—officially on the books for years but routinely ignored by many drinking establishments with little consequence—were enforced for the first time Tuesday night.

Internet users have criticized the closing time crackdown and are pressing for a later hour.

Kyaw Naing agrees, arguing that his line of business sees customers from 7 pm to 2 am.

“This will hurt our profits,” Kyaw Naing said. “We will not decrease our staff or salaries, but we will have to adjust their hours.”

Local authorities arrived at Kyaw Naing’s nightclub on Tuesday night and ordered it closed as soon as possible, citing unspecified safety concerns, according to the manager. Bars and other nightlife venues operate under the jurisdiction of the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).

Pioneer has been in business for more than 10 years, and pays the YCDC 2.4 million kyats (US$2,061) annually for its alcohol license and 20,000 kyats for its restaurant operating license.

Some businessmen have speculated that the policy change was handed down by Rangoon’s new Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein, a National League for Democracy (NLD) appointee. On Tuesday, he held a meeting with the Rangoon police task force and promised to clear the streets of criminal gangs.

Police Col. Win Bo, deputy head of the Rangoon Division Police Force, denied the rumor that police were acting on the orders of the chief minister.

“That was one of our normal activities,” the police colonel said, declining to provide more detailed information about the crackdown.