Man­dalay’s Maha Myat Muni Pagoda gets se­cu­rity up­grade

The Myanmar Times - - News - Kyawkoko@mm­ KYAW KO KO

AMID a spate of bomb scares in re­cent weeks, Man­dalay’s Maha Myat Muni Pagoda has added nine new mem­bers to its se­cu­rity team and trained 11 mem­bers of the crew in meth­ods for de­tect­ing po­ten­tial ex­plo­sive de­vices, pagoda chair U Soe Lin said on Novem­ber 29.

Pagoda chair U Soe Lin’s Novem­ber 29 an­nounce­ment comes af­ter mi­nor ex­plo­sions rat­tled four separate lo­ca­tions in Yan­gon last month, in­jur­ing no one. Po­lice re­port­edly have sus­pects in cus­tody but have yet to re­lease in­for­ma­tion on their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Three se­cu­rity squads have been as­signed to watch vis­i­tor en­trances. The 11 se­cu­rity guards trained by po­lice and the Min­istry of Bor­der Af­fairs in ad­vanced bomb de­tec­tion tech­niques will in turn train their col­leagues, U Soe Lin said. The ad­di­tion of nine new guards brings the se­cu­rity force to a to­tal of 53. They will add more if nec­es­sary, he said.

The pagoda’s se­cu­rity per­son­nel have been or­dered to keep an eye out for peo­ple wear­ing baggy clothes and car­ry­ing ex­tra pos­ses­sions. They have also been in­structed to pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the ar­eas were mo­tor­cy­cles, cars and slip­pers are typ­i­cally left unat­tended.

“We placed se­cu­rity all over the pagoda,” U Soe Lin said. “We gave them walkie-talkies to in­form oth­ers if they see any odd be­hav­iour. We are mainly con­cerned with keep­ing our pagoda se­cure, re­gard­less of the ex­plo­sions in Yan­gon.”

On Novem­ber 23, pri­vate se­cu­rity guards from all over Man­dalay Re­gion were in­structed by po­lice on best prac­tices for ex­plo­sives de­tec­tion at pub­lic places like shop­ping cen­tres and other com­mer­cial out­lets where they are typ­i­cally de­ployed.

“I no­ticed that the se­cu­rity guards are be­ing more care­ful than usual,” said a Chan Mya Tharsi res­i­dent. “Usu­ally, we can en­ter freely if we do­nate gold leaf to the pagoda. But now, we can en­ter only af­ter pass­ing their se­cu­rity sys­tem. It is very good that they are per­form­ing their tasks sys­tem­at­i­cally. The pil­grims are safe and they can wor­ship at the pagoda peace­fully.”

The first in a string of ex­plo­sions to rat­tle Yan­gon last month came on Novem­ber 17, when two crude bombs went off at Ocean Su­per Cen­tre in Mayan­gone town­ship. Three days later, four ex­plo­sions caused min­i­mal dam­age at Cap­i­tal Hyper­mar­ket in Daw­bon town­ship. Last week, small ex­plo­sions took place at a South Dagon im­mi­gra­tion of­fice on Novem­ber 24 and the fol­low­ing day at the Yan­gon Re­gion gov­ern­ment of­fice. No one was hurt in any of the in­ci­dents.

Last month Yan­gon’s Sh­wedagon Pagoda also had its se­cu­rity boosted. The Union min­is­ter for re­li­gious af­fairs said the ex­tra pre­cau­tions were put in place in or­der to pre­vent ter­ror­ist at­tacks, amid an up­surge in vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine State. – Trans­la­tion by Emoon and Khine Thazin Han

Photo: Kyaw Ko Ko

Vis­i­tors to Maha Myat Muni Pagoda in Man­dalay pass through a metal de­tec­tor.

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