Tanintharyi government fields community development concerns via public forum
TANINTHARYI Region is holding public forums where community members can weigh in on how the regional government’s efforts to promote development across a range of sectors, from gender equality to electricity, should proceed.
Dawei township held a forum on September 5 and 6 as part of the new regional government’s efforts to include community concerns when drafting development policies. The first forum as part of the strategy was held in Kawthaung township, and the third and final forum will take place in Myeik.
Dawei’s forum, which drew more than 1500 people, focused on tourism; electricity and industry; agriculture, livestock and fisheries; migrant workers; gender equality; youth; and socioeconomic status.
U Thant Zin, coordinator of the Dawei Development Association, said community’s input was submitted to the regional government office after the forum.
“The voices of the community can directly reach the regional government,” he said. “The advice and data provided by the forum will help [the government] draft economic and environmental policies.”
If the region draws up a wider development strategy, U Thant Zin is hoping the community can cooperate with development experts to help influence the policy.
“Some of the issues can be solved within the forum through discussion,” he said. “Some have to be solved by the regional government and some may need to be submitted to the central government level. So the forum can’t solve all the issues at once, but at least when it is finished the government can know what is really happening on the ground.”
U Wai Phyo Aung, founder of Dawei Active Youth, said the previous government rarely invited civil society groups to discuss specific issues.
“Once you know what is happening on the ground, it is easier to approach the issues and find out the solutions,” he said. “But the forum is just to allow the government to listen to community voices – drafting policies based on that advice will take time.”
Daw Lae Lae Maw, Tanintharyi chief minister (NLD; Thayatchaung township), said the regional government will finalise conclusions from six government committees – representing various government departments like mining and agriculture – that collected views from the forum. These conclusions will help the government draft the policies needed, she added.
“The forum helps the community participate in the regional government’s development process and it’s clear what needs to be done after listening to the issues,” she said, adding that while the regional government would be able to solve some of the problems or amend regional law, other issues may require the central government to amend national legislation.
Companies in some areas – particularly the mining sector – are not following existing regional policies, she said. The regional government intends to draft new policies to ensure that business follow the rules, she added.
Daw Yee Yee Htwe, secretary general of Dawei District Farmers Union, said the community had strong opinions on many of the issues.
“There are [already] laws on land use in the region but the community’s concern is how those laws are applied,” she said. Depending on the issue, the law can often be applied one way for a community, but quite differently for a company, she added.
Having made its voice heard on policy, the community will be closely watching how the government implements the recommended measures, Daw Yee Yee Htwe said.
A resort is built on Tizit beach near Dawei. The quiet beach is near the site of a Chinese plan to build Myanmar’s largest oil refinery.