Thingyan Holiday Cut Short

By San Yamin Aung 10 March 2017

RANGOON — If you were planning a long trip during the Thingyan water festival this year, you might need to change your plans.

The President’s Office and its spokesperson U Zaw Htay have announced a government plan to shorten the Burmese New Year holiday from 10 to five days.

The announcement on Thursday stated that the 10-day public holiday had hindered office work and banking services, with delays in transportation and commodity flows due to the long break.

It stated that the days taken from the Thingyan holiday would be added to Thandingyut, Tazaungdine and international New Year, but the substitution is not yet clear.

It also suggested that despite the change, civil servants might still enjoy 10 days off as originally planned.

U Zaw Htay said for those who had already booked travel arrangements, they could keep their plans but that the official holiday was only five days.

Thingyan will be celebrated from April 13 to 17.

The 10-day holiday started under the former military junta in 2007, two years after the Union government relocated the administrative capital to Naypyidaw.

Many civil servants from the capital and internal migrants across the country return home for the holiday, and those who continue to work earn at least double for their time.

The announcement came on short notice, after many had already made travel plans. Many people have complained that this benefits employers and hurts employees.

“It is completely unfair to employees,” a civil servant said.

She said civil servants do not have proper holidays throughout the year as they work overtime on weekdays, weekends and on public holidays.

“Thingyan is the only time that we all go home, to see our relatives and get some rest,” she said, adding that five days is not enough for those who have to spend two days traveling to their hometowns.

Additional reporting by Htet Naing Zaw.