Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Criticism emerges over Rakhine National Day


Wednesday, 20 March 2013 12:57 Thein Hlaing

A Rakhine National Day will be set within six months, said officials from the committee for organizing the day; however, some in Rakhine State have criticized it on the grounds that the committee was formed by the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) office and most of committee members are from Sittwe, the state's capital.

Women participating in a traditional Rakhine ceremony grind thanakha, a decorative makeup, in Mingalar Taungnyunt Township in Yangon on April 12, 2012, on the eve of the Water Festival. [Photo: Mizzima]

“Our committee has announced that we will welcome written suggestions from Rakhine people all over the country to set the day. We will collect suggestions from Rakhine people and we will invite local and foreign experts on Rakhine affairs to attend the conference,” said Ba Gyi Kyaw, a writer and a committee member. “Then we will set Rakhine National Day according to experts’ suggestions and the date chosen will be put forward to the Rakhine State Parliament.”  

On February 28, three Rakhine State Ministers formed the 15-member committee to officially set the day. RNDP secretary Khaing Pyi Soe said that there is no hidden political agenda and that the only objective is to create the Rakhine National Day.

Chairman of the Arakan League for Democracy Yangon Region Hla Myint said that only the decision made by historians in accordance with Rakhine people’s wish is important and that the committee is unimportant.

“In 1989, we and the Rakhine historian Oo Tha Htun discussed the creation of Rakhine National Day and we chose the day in which Rakhine King Saw Mon founded the former Rakhine capital, Mrauk-U, on the 1st waxing of Tawthalin,” said Hla Myint.

In 1989, the ALD tried to officially set this day as Rakhine National Day but were forbidden by the former military junta, according to Hla Myint.  

According to the current Myanmar Constitution, the Rakhine State Parliament does not have the power to officially set the Rakhine National Day. Permission will need to be granted by central government, said Kaung San Shee, a member of the Rakhine State Parliament Law Advisors’ Committee.

“According to the constitution, regional parliaments do not have the power to designate dates to mark special days of ethnic minorities,” said Kaung San Shee.

The 1974 Constitution designated December 15 as Rakhine State Day, but even after the 2008 Constitution was confirmed, the government authorities and Rakhine people still celebrate the Rakhine State Day on that day.
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