Gen. Aung San Statue Lands in Loikaw, Renews Local Ire

By Lawi Weng 30 January 2019

Mon State — A statue of the late independence hero General Aung San was brought to the Kayah State capital of Loikaw on Tuesday to be erected in a city park against the wishes of many local residents.

Local rights activist Myo Hlaing Win said many residents were surprised to see the statue arrive, accusing the government of breaking a promise the state’s chief minister made in July not to erect it without the public’s approval.

He said some of them met the truck at the park hoping to stop the statue from being unloaded but were told to take up their concerns with the government.

“When we asked them [last year] not to build the statue, they told us they would not do it. But they actually did it. They act like thieves,” Myo Hlaing Win told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday. “They were not sincere to our people.”

“They knew they would have a lot of problems with the locals if they built the statue, but they are still doing it. They just do what they want to do. They have no dignity,” said Khun Be Du, chairman of the Kayan National Party, based in Loikaw.

Myo Hlaing Win and Khun Be Du said locals would mount a protest against the statue soon.

U Taung Htay, who heads the Loikaw office of the ruling National League for Democracy, said local party members were not involved in erecting the statue.

“Some members of the government and a group of people are leading this project, not us, because local people have already protested against this project,” he said.

“We just told them to implement the project by themselves as flexibly as they could,” he added. “They decided to implement the project on their own. We are not involved in the project because we are worried it will hurt our party’s image.”

State-level officials said they were too busy to comment on the issue when contacted by The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Gen. Aung San statues have already gone up in other states against the wishes of their non-Bamar communities. Some ethnic rights activists say they should not be erected while the country’s minorities continue to feel persecuted and their demands for a federal system of government remain unfulfilled. They say those communities should get statues of their own politicians and freedom fighters instead.

The Kayah State government has yet to say when it intends to inaugurate the statue in Loikaw.