Upper House Approves Rakhine State Proposal

By Htun Htun 30 August 2017

NAYPYITAW — The Upper House has approved a proposal to improve security in Rakhine State despite other similar proposals regarding responses to attacks in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships failing in the Lower House.

On Aug. 9, Arakan National party (ANP) lawmaker U Khin Maung Latt of Rakhine State (3) urged the government take action against suspected militants in northern Rakhine State under the 2014 Counter-Terrorism Law and help locals who have fled their homes because of killings in the area.

The proposal followed the killing of seven ethnic Mro, a sub-ethnic group of Arakanese, of Kai Gyee village near the Mayu mountain range in southern Maungdaw Township.

U Khin Maung Latt said approval of his proposal meant a greater power for security forces, and increased budgets for fencing along the Bangladesh border and police outposts for border security as well as regional rehabilitation.

U Khin Maung Latt, however, was unhappy about the length of time the proposal was debated.

“The proposal should have been discussed earlier, violence erupted while it was being debated,” he said, referring to attacks claimed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which broke out on Friday.

Of the lawmakers who voted, 187 voted in favor, one against and three abstained.

Just a day before the outbreak of attacks in northern Rakhine, the Lower House voted down a proposal to intensify security in northern Rakhine State, which was tabled by ANP lawmaker Daw Khin Saw Wai of Rathedaung Township.

“Though the two proposals appear to concern the same issue, the points of the proposals were different. This proposal matches the ongoing actions of the government, and that’s why I supported the proposal,” Deputy Home Affairs Minister Maj-Gen Aung Soe told reporters.

After ARSA launched coordinated attacks on 30 police outposts and a military base in the early hours of Friday in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung townships—resulting in the death of 12 security personnel—the government branded ARSA a terrorist organization and said it would take action against anyone who is involved in or abets terrorist acts.

On Friday last week and again on Monday, ex-general lawmakers for the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) made unsuccessful attempts to slam the attacks and beef up security in Maungdaw.

“We have to root out the terrorist group before it can establish a stronghold,” lawmaker U Kyaw Kyaw of Rakhine State (4) urged the Upper House.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.