My­it­sone Dam protests will im­pact Myan­mar eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment: ex­pert

Myan­mar eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment: ex­pert

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Xie Went­ing

Acam­paign aimed at putting an end to the My­it­sone Dam project is re­port­edly to be held in Myan­mar's Yan­gon last week, which Chi­nese ex­perts said will ex­ert a neg­a­tive in­flu­ence on the South­east Asian coun­try's eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Politi­cians and ac­tivists, as well as civil so­ci­ety rep­re­sen­ta­tives will gather in Yan­gon on Mon­day to protest against the My­it­sone Dam, Fron­tier Myan­mar mag­a­zine re­ported.

In an in­ter­view with Fron­tier Myan­mar, U Aung Soe Myint, a leader of the move­ment, said that they had in­vited NGOs, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts from ev­ery state and re­gion of Myan­mar to join the protest. The group will also form an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to de­vise strate­gies to cam­paign against the dam.

Gu Xiaosong, an ex­pert on South­east Asian stud­ies at the Guangxi Academy of So­cial Sciences, told the Global Times on Sun­day that the protest is driven pre­dom­i­nantly by po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

"Some or­ga­ni­za­tions are in­cited by cer­tain Western forces which are try­ing to dam­age China-Myan­mar re­la­tions. It is not re­ally out of con­cern for the en­vi­ron­ment as they have de­clared," Gu said, adding that most or­di­nary ci­ti­zens who were in­sti­gated to join the protest have no idea of the real sit­u­a­tion.

The dam, which was sus­pended in 2011, has cost Chi­nese fi­nanciers and con­trac­tors dearly. It is one of the key is­sues to be ad­dressed be­tween the two coun­tries.

On March 14, when Myan­mar State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi met peo­ple in Pyay Town­ship in Bago Re­gion, she said that the coun­try's progress was very slow be­cause some peo­ple did not look at what they can give, only look­ing at what they can get. She called for this sit­u­a­tion to be changed.

She said that the govern­ment de­ter­mined projects from po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial an­gles, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on the of­fi­cial web­site of the State Coun­sel­lor's of­fice.

Suu Kyi also called on peo­ple to be open-minded about megapro­jects, in­clud­ing the My­it­sone Dam and other projects. She said that Myan­mar would face iso­la­tion if gov­ern­ments that come to power do not re­spect the agree­ments reached by pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions, the Myan­mar Times re­ported.

Ac­cord­ing to Gu, the dam will bring lo­cals prac­ti­cal ben­e­fits which have not been pro­moted enough among the gen­eral pub­lic.

Af­ter com­ple­tion, it could help fix Myan­mar's long-stand­ing power short­ages and cre­ate nu­mer­ous jobs for the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

As for the en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, Gu noted that China has amassed enough ex­pe­ri­ence in pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment when de­vel­op­ing large projects like this.

"These peo­ple are us­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns as a front to hide their ul­ti­mate ul­te­rior mo­tive," he said.

Fan Hong­wei, an ex­pert on Myan­mar is­sues at Xi­a­men Uni­ver­sity in Fu­jian prov­ince, told the Global Times pre­vi­ously ad­dress­ing the dam is­sue prop­erly con­cerns the Myan­mar govern­ment's cred­i­bil­ity and its abil­ity to pro­vide a healthy en­vi­ron­ment for for­eign in­vestors amid chal­lenges.

Al­ter­na­tives have been raised by the Myan­mar side since Jan­uary. Thaung Tun, chair­man of Myan­mar's in­vest­ment com­mis­sion, listed op­tions from scal­ing back the My­it­sone Dam or mov­ing it to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion to of­fer the op­er­a­tor an al­ter­na­tive project, Reuters re­ported.

Protest­ing against the My­it­sone dam project. Photo: EPA

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