Suu Kyi’s Rakhine Rehabilitation Enterprise Comes Under Fire

By Htet Naing Zaw 9 February 2018

The Union Enterprise For Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized by representatives of Parliament for its lack of cooperation with Arakanese members, lack of transparency and its centralization in Naypyitaw.

“Local people have never heard of the implementation of work by the UEHRD. Everything they want to do is controlled by Naypyitaw.

We want it to allow local people to participate together with political parties and local organizations to find better ways to implement projects,” U Aung Thaung Shwe, a Lower House representative from Buthidaung Township, told reporters in Naypyitaw.

The UEHRD was founded on Oct. 15, 2017. Dr. Win Myat Aye is the vice chairman and Dr. Aung Tun Thet acts as the coordinator. U Kyaw Myaing is the information officer.

Daw Khin Saw Wai, a representative of Parliament from Rathedaung Township, told the Irrawaddy that no Arakanese member had been appointed to the enterprise, although it was necessary to include locals along with parliamentarians, elders, academics and experts for successful outcomes.

“They never tell us what they are doing. For the interest of the local people, they need to work together with us and other local stakeholders,” said Daw Khin Saw Wai.

At a Lower House session on Wednesday, Representative U Aung Thaung Shwe tabled a motion calling for transparency and effective implementation of long and short-term projects for rehabilitation in Rakhine State, which was seconded by Representative Daw Khin Saw Wai. Both representatives are Arakanese.

However, Vice Chairman Dr. Win Myat Aye of the UEHRD told The Irrawaddy that he had been too busy to attend the Lower House session and had had to send a deputy minister instead. He also said he would respond to the motion as necessary when it is discussed and that people from across the country can participate in the UEHRD.

“People from the entire country are working together on it,” Dr. Win Myat Aye said.

He added that he had explained the work of the UEHRD to Rakhine State Parliament and CSOs and was willing to explain it again if there were still people who did not know how it works or who was involved.

However, Representative U Aung Thaung Shwe said the UEHRD was controlled by Naypyitaw and that Dr. Win Myat Aye only carried out the field work. He continued to say that he had tabled the motion, as there were no Arakanese members involved and that Naypyitaw had centralized the work.

As rehabilitation and resettlement in northern Rakhine State are linked with sovereignty and national unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty can be protected only when local people have a chance to enjoy security, the representative told the session.

Representative Daw Khin Saw Wai said that a rehabilitation project being carried out by the UEHRD planned to relocate ‘Bengalis,’ by a motor road, which would give them the upper hand in the event of a conflict.

“I have never gotten the chance to personally participate in the affairs of Rakhine State,” Representative Daw Khin Saw Wai told Parliament.

A similar motion calling for transparency in the rehabilitation of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in northern Rakhine was also tabled at Rakhine State Parliament in November 2017 and the motion was approved. Apart from the UEHRD, there are the Rakhine State Stability and Development Central Committee led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Rakhine State Advisory Commission led by Kofi Annan, the Rakhine State Investigation Commission led by a vice president and the Commission for the Implementation of Recommendations for Rakhine State led by Dr. Win Myat Aye.

“The acronym UEHRD is known by many people although they may not know it in its full form. People also have known the principles of it and what it is doing as its news reports are in print and broadcast media,” Dr. Win Myat Aye said.

Translated from Burmese by Myint Win Thein.