Govt’s Decision to Build Pagoda in Hakha ‘Invalid’: CNP
17 April 2012: The Chin National Party (CNP) has urged the government of Chin State to call off plans to construct a Buddhist pagoda in Hakha, saying the decision was not in conformity with the constitution.
In a letter sent to Hung Ngai, Chief Minister of Chin State government, CNP said the recent decision of the State-level ministerial meeting must be reviewed and annulled on the ground that the involvement of State Secretary in the voting is ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.
The letter said the inclusion of the ‘appointed’ State Secretary as a voting member in State cabinet meeting is against provisions of the 2008 constitution. A copy of the letter dated 2 April 2012 was also sent to the President’s Office.
CNP points out Article 248 of the constitution, which defines the State government as including only the Chief Minister, Ministers and the Advocate General.
“We have learned that a vote by U Myo Aung Htay, Secretary of Chin State government, was counted during the meeting,” added the CNP’s letter signed by its Chairman Pu Zozam, who is also a member of the State Parliament.
Last month, the government of Chin State reached a decision to sanction the construction of a Buddhist pagoda in Hakha at a meeting attended by 11 State cabinet members, which include six Christians, four Buddhists and one adherent of local indigenous religion Laipian.
The proposal was put forward during the four-day meeting held at the Parliament Building from 24-27 February by Hung Ngai, Chief Minister of Chin State, and Colonel Zaw Min Oo, Minister of Security and Border Areas Development, both Buddhists, according to sources from Hakha.
The move has sparked fierce reactions from Chin communities across Burma and outside, who view it as inflammatory and unfair.
“This is unfair, unjust and undemocratic because they [government] make a decision easily to build a Buddhist pagoda while we, Christians, are still prohibited to obtain an official permission for construction of any religious buildings on our native land,” complained one of the Chin community leaders.
According to the decision, a government-sanctioned Buddhist pagoda is to be built on a scenic viewpoint overlooking Hakha town. But further details about the meeting or what the decision will entail remain unknown to the public.
Over 90 percent of the population of Chin State is estimated to be Christians. In the capital Hakha, Buddhist population is estimated at less than one percent, and are largely temporary residents posting as government servants or as Burma Army soldiers.