Monday, January 6, 2014

Suu Kyi Slams Myanmar Government for Leaving Myitsone Dam ‘Hanging'

Suu Kyi Slams Myanmar Government for Leaving Myitsone Dam 'Hanging'

6 January 2014, Radio Free Asia

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has slammed President Thein
Sein for leaving the future of a controversial Chinese-backed dam
unresolved, accusing him of passing the buck to the country's next
leaders by suspending the project until the end of his term.

Chinese investors in the Myitsone dam, located on the Irrawaddy River in
northern Myanmar's Kachin state, are eager to see the project restarted
when a new government comes to power after the 2015 elections, which
Thein Sein is not expected to contest.

Construction on the 6,000 megawatt dam, located on the Irrawaddy River
in northern Myanmar's Kachin state, has been suspended since September
2011, when Thein Sein pledged months after taking office that it would
be halted for the duration of his five-year term.

Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy is expected to be
a key contender in the upcoming polls, accused Thein Sein's government
of ducking responsibility for the issue by leaving a decision on the
$3.6 billion project up to the next government.

"By … postponing the project by five years, this means the next
government will have to take care of it," she said in an interview with
RFA's Myanmar Service.

"It is as if they are saying, 'It is not our duty. We are not
responsible for this,'" she said.

She said the country's next government would be saddled with
responsibility for deciding on the project because of the failure of
Thein Sein's to settle its future for good.

If her party wins the 2015 polls, it will have "no other choice" but to
deal with Chinese investors to resolve the issue "because the current
government has left it hanging," she said.

"I don't like this idea because a government should be brave enough to
take responsibility."

She added that because many members of the current government also
served in the previous regime, "they are the same members as those who
agreed to the Myitsone project, and they can't say now that they have
nothing to do with the previous government's actions."

Controversial project

Thein Sein said in a monthly radio address last week since the day he
took office he had "not avoided responsibility" and "tried to act

The former military general had earned widespread praise for his
suspending the dam as part of a series of reforms carried out as Myanmar
began emerging from decades under military rule.

The U.S. $3.6 billion dam project, which would provide most of its
electricity to China, had provoked massive public outcry over the
widespread flooding and deforestation it would cause, as well as the
displacement of 10,000 ethnic minority Kachin villagers.

The project's investor China Power Investment Co. (CPI) has said it is
interested in restarting the project, raising concerns among local

Pushing late last month for a restart of the project, Li Guanghua, a top
official of the Myanmar subsidiary of CPI promised to work transparently
with Myanmar if it is resumed.

"We will inform the people about everything we do on this project," Li
told reporters at a press conference.

He said he hoped "the government that was elected by the people will
make the right decision" on whether to resume with the dam.

Aung San Suu Kyi has said she wants to run for president in the next
election, but provisions in the constitution bar her from taking up the
post on the grounds that her sons hold British citizenship.

Her party has pushed for those provisions, which some analysts believe
were written specifically to target her, to be amended ahead of the
polls, as well as for sweeping changes to charter.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who joined parliament two years ago after landmark
by-elections, faced strong criticism from local residents last year
after a committee she headed recommended the resumption of a
Chinese-backed copper mine that had been suspended amid mass protests.

Her committee had said the expansion of the Letpadaung copper mine
should be allowed to continue so as not to discourage future foreign
investment and provoke tensions with China, triggering outrage from
activists who called for a complete halt to the project.

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