Incoming Karen State government will have to grapple with controversial development projects, CSOs predict

  • Written by Sa Eh Sue
  • Published in Karen State

Sa Eh Sue — Karen State's next government will have to deal with controversies relating to major development projects in the state, Karen State-based Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) predict.

The Karen Affairs Committee’s Secretary, Saw Kyaw Swar, told BNI that development projects will likely become a controversial issue.  “The issues of major development projects may become the biggest challenge for those MPs who will form the government. These issues include land and environmental issues,” he said

Saw Kyaw Swar also predicted that the next government may also have difficulties dealing with civil servants, many of whom are used to the ways of the previous regime.

Some of the major projects in the state are the Thai-Burma Asia Highway and the Hatgyi Dam project.  The dam project will involve Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise, Sino-hydro Corporation from China and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).  Other projects include the Myaingkalay cement factory and the Hpa-an Industrial Zone.

A total of 36 candidates from the National League for Democracy (NLD) ran in the election in Karen State. The NLD won the majority of seats in Karen State with 29 NLD candidates elected state wide.  

The Thwee Community Development Network’s chairman Mahn Thein Zaw told the BNI Election Newsroom that the main challenges for the upcoming government will be the economic development projects carried out by the previous government.  Issues relating to the lack of harmony with the public when excavating natural resources and companies failing to abide by rules and regulations will be a major concern for the government he said.  .He added that civil servants failure to abide by existing laws will likely also be a challenge for the incoming Karen state government.  

Ko Myint Aung from the '88 Generation Peace and Open Society group also told the BNI Election Newsroom that the upcoming government will have to handle the issues of farmers not receiving adequate compensations for confiscated lands in projects carried out by the previous state government.

Saw Khin Hla Myaing from Larkadaung Village tells BNI that the government has confiscated over 700 acres of land from his village and two other nearby villages in Karen State over the past 18 years.

 “I want the next government to work towards returning our confiscated land. Because we don’t have our land, we have to work as daily labourers and our children have to work in Thailand,” he said.