Chin Locals Spoke out against Minister’s Responses in Hluttaw Session
19 September 2011: Local villagers voiced their disappointment over the responses of Union Minister Lt-Gen Thein Htay to questions raised by Chin MPs in Hluttaw session about road and bridge construction in Kanpetlet Township, Chin State.
In reply to Pu Mnai Naing of Chin State Constituency No. 10, Union Minister for Border Affairs and for Myanma Industrial Development Lt-Gen Thein Htay said a total of 123.61million Kyats has been spent for the regional development of Kanpetlet Township, according to The New Light of Myanmar on 14 September 2011.
The Minister said four bridges and roads just more than 76 miles long between villages in southern parts of Chin State have been constructed till the 2010-2011 fiscal year, with another 20million to be granted for the rest of the year.
However, the Chin villagers from Kanpetlet Township said that the local authorities led by Captain Win Han and Captain Aung Min under the instruction of ex-Brig-Gen Thura U Aung Ko forcibly collected money from each family in the villages in 2011.
“We were told that Thura U Aung Ko ordered each family to contribute 10,000 Kyats for road construction from Kanpetlet town to Hmukhimding via Kyindwe village. As we were still struggling from food crisis, it was not easy for us to give that amount of money. But we had no choice,” said a Dai Chin local from the township.
In the second regular session of the first Amyotha Hluttaw last Tuesday, Chin MP Pu Mnai Naing said only about 13 out of 117 villages in Kanpetlet Township have access to motor roads, with more than 100 villages relying on foot for travelling.
He also said every village is currently constructing urban-to-rural roads and inter-village roads on a self-reliant basis, asking if the government had any plan to provide equipment and assistance for construction of roads on a self-reliant basis and prioritize tasks for least developed rural areas.
The Union Minister promised the inter-villages road will be constructed in Kanpetlet Township within this year but admitted that the township development affairs committee has no sufficient fund.
Another villager from Kanpetlet Township complained: “Each family in the region was forcibly demanded 8,000 kyats on another occasion by the authorities under the instructions of Thura U Aung Ko for bridge construction on Mung (Hmolong) River.”
Earlier this year, a series of forced labour and money collection towards building bridges and constructing roads in Kanpetlet Township were reported by local villagers who got involved in the so-called ‘voluntary contribution’ for government-run projects.
“This frequently ordered forced labour had affected us a lot. The villagers were delayed in their cultivation work on their farm. And we didn’t know why we were asked to make financial contribution again and again,” said one of the Chin community leaders, who asked not to be named.
Reporting by Jeremy Hoipang & Thawng Zel Thang