Rakhine Parliament Debates Tourism Plan for Manaung Island

By Min Aung Khine 27 November 2017

Sittwe—The Rakhine State Parliament on Friday discussed a proposal to develop tourism on Manaung Island, agreeing that a decision on whether to allow it should be made only after the concerned developers explained their plans in detail to local lawmakers.

On Oct. 30, the state government signed an MoU with a public company based in Rakhine State for tourism development on Manaung Island, which lies in the Bay of Bengal close to Ramree Island off the coast of Rakhine State.

Rakhine State Minister for Electricity, Industry and Transportation U Aung Kyaw Zan sought the remarks of the state parliament about the project last Tuesday.

The minister said the Rakhine State government had requested approval from the union government for the project, and that 10 union-level ministries including the Ministry of National Resources and Environmental Conservation and Ministry of Transport and Communications had provided recommendations.

In response, five lawmakers discussed the proposal and suggested that the concerned companies present their master plans and business models to the parliament before any further decisions were made.

Lawmaker U Nai Kywe Aye of Thandwe Township (2) said: “We’ll see first if the project will be beneficial to locals and discuss its pros and cons.”

Another lawmaker, U Zaw Zaw Myint of Buthidaung Township (1), said no citizen was opposed to development. “But we have to make sure these development projects have minimal negative consequences.”

Lawmakers also urged the state government to learn the lessons from the Ngapali tourism development project, which due to a lack of clear procedures and regulations had resulted in a lot of land disputes, and also affected the livelihoods of local fishermen. Many local landowners had ended up as staff working at hotels built on disputed land, said the lawmakers.

In October, the Rakhine State government also signed MoUs with private companies for the establishment of a 3.5 billion-kyat Kanyin Chaung border economic zone on the outskirts of Maungdaw and to upgrade the Thandwe golf course.