Mon State Bridge Renamed After Controversy

By Htet Naing Zaw 13 February 2017

NAYPYIDAW — The Mon State Government will rename a new bridge across the Salween River in Mon State Yamanya Bridge amid “strong opposition” from locals over the government’s decision to name it after Burma’s independence hero Bogyoke Aung San, according to the ethnic affairs minister Nai Thet Lwin.

“As locals disagree, the name of the bridge was changed to ‘Yamanya’ by the Mon State government,” Union minister for ethnic affairs Nai Thet Lwin told The Irrawaddy.

He said that locals would accept the new name of the bridge linking Moulmein and Chaungzon townships as ‘Yamanya’, which means Mon State in Mon language.

Construction of the two-lane, 5,200-foot structure will be completed in March, and has cost an estimated 60 billion kyats (US$44 million).

Though the opening ceremony of the bridge was slated to be held on Monday, it was cancelled because of locals’ opposition regarding the name change.

The bridge’s proposed name came to light last week when the Ministry of Construction sent a letter to Aung Naing Oo, deputy speaker of the Mon State parliament, announcing a celebratory opening ceremony for it on Feb. 13.

Locals were outraged by the decision, preferring a name celebrating ethnic Mon heritage.

“The main disagreement from our ethnic people was, that Gen Aung San has no relation to this bridge, and not even any relation to this area,” deputy speaker of the Mon State parliament Aung Naing Oo told The Irrawaddy last week.

He accused the country’s ruling party—the National League for Democracy—of trying to “take political advantage” by invoking Aung San’s name, without considering the views of ethnic minorities.

The Mon National Party also issued a statement last week requesting that the state government designate a name that does not harm ethnic unity, peace and stability in the region, and could contribute to national reconciliation in the country.