Dawei Residents Oppose Land Law

Network Media Group

January 4, 2019

Projects proposed on land considered fallow by the government’s new law worry residents of Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region.

Locals are concerned after some investors applied for a large construction project on a beach located on a island in Tanintharyi Region.

“There are many fishermen in our region that depend on our islands. If a person or a company gets permission to develop it how will locals live and work there?” said U Aye Min, chairperson for Dawei Nationalities Party (DNP).

An application to develop a hotel and park on a beach in Kyauk-Twin, in Lounglon Township, was made under the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management (VFV) law.

Forty-one civil society organizations have demanded the VFV, enacted into law on October 29, to be abolished, saying it will result in the eviction of millions of farmers.

The total area recognized by the government under the VFV is 50 million acres, a third of the total area of the country. Under the new law, investors can apply to develop projects on this land.

The DNP released a statement opposing the VFV in Dawei region.

The area in Lounglon Township planned for development is the site of ancient Htaung-kwe temple. Locals from the region depend on fishing for their survival.

Members of the DNP have met with residents who expressed their opposition to the project, Aye Min said.

“If a private company gets permission to make a business there, they will cut down the trees. The environment will be damaged, and then there will be no protection from natural disasters,” he said.

Development under the VFV goes against the rights we were granted under a 2015 bylaw that protected our rights as ethnic people, including our heritage.