5,000 Expected to Join Protest over Matupi District Office

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Nearly 5,000 people are expected to turn up for a protest tomorrow over a long-simmering dispute about the proposed location of the new Matupi district office in southern Chin State.

For months, local residents have demanded that the new office be built at the site of the current office or elsewhere in the downtown municipal area.

The Chin State government, however, has already decided to relocate the office in Hpanai-Ngalai, a village eight miles away from Matupi town.

This will be the second protest against the move in less than a month.

“Lower house MPs, upper house MPs, members of the municipal committee, ward administrators, and local civil society organizations all agree that the Matupi district office should be built in downtown Matupi,” said Bu Hpwe, a local resident who plans to join the protest.

“Offices of other departments can be built at good venues in the downtown area,” Bu Hpwe added. “We already agreed and decided about this, but the Chin State government didn’t agree, so local people feel upset. That is why we are going to protest.”

Although a final decision hasn’t been made regarding the location of the district administrative office, surveying has already begun in Hpanai Ngalai.

Soe Htet, a municipal minister and acting spokesperson for the Chin State government, warned that opposition to the project could cause construction delays that would, in turn, jeopardize funding from the Union government.

On March 14, Tin Myint, the deputy minister of the Union government office, said that the government had approved 1.8 billion kyat (US$1.18 million) for construction of the Matupi district office. Protests over this issue have taken place in Matupi since January 5, 2019.

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