Mone Chaung Company, Veteran actor U Lwin Moe’s company, has cancelled a planned ecotourism business in Chin State’s Kanpetlet township amid backlash from local residents.
“I originally planned to build a hotel in Kanpetlet. I thought about doing this [ecotourism business] after being invited by an official from Nat Ma Taung National Park,” the actor said. “Since this is a remote area, there wouldn’t be any economic development within five years. We would need to attract tourists for this business to work. I tried to explain [this plan] to the local residents but they probably don’t understand the business model. It’s not their fault for wanting to protect their own people.”
In order to avoid any friction, U Lwin Moe said his company, Mone Chaung, will scout for other locations to develop the project.
His company had initially applied for permission to operate on 1,697 acres of land in Kyin Dway Group, Kanpetlet township. But after the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation called on the public to submit any objections before July 1, local residents signed a petition against the ecotourism plans. The Chin National Democratic Party, the Chin Progressive Party, the Chin National Front, and Kanpetlet Township Association (Yangon) also objected to the proposal.
In a statement, the Chin National Democratic Development Party claimed that the sustainability of the local population and their way of life would be strained if a private company is permitted to work such a vast tract of land.
Shein Gay Ngai, the former head of Khonumthung, also known as Nat Ma Taung National Park, said he invited U Lwin Moe to invest on vacant land in the hopes that the area could be responsibly developed with projects that would have an economic windfall on the community. He added that land in this area can only be leased, not owned by a private company, which would allow the government to retain some measure of oversight.
“[Their aim] is to provide a service by showing the natural beauty of this forest without harming it,” he said, adding that human settlements have only newly encroached on the forest area, leading to concerns that the environment could be destroyed through deforestation.
“So we plan to educate the public and turn this into a botanical garden,” said Shein Gay Ngai.
Local resident Salai Min Nyo insisted that the land was never vacant but was relied on by the local population through several generations.
“The land may be affected if large parcels are given to a private company. It can affect the village residents,” he added.
U Lwin Moe currently runs a tourism business in Shan State and plans to open a cinema in Chin State’s capital, Hakha.