A bronze statue of Burmese independence hero General Aung San has arrived in the Chin State capital Hakha amid concerns that it could face the same kind of opposition from local people that has been seen elsewhere in the country.
The statue, which was paid for with a 20 million kyat (US$13,000) donation from the company that built the concrete floor of the Chin State parliament building, replaces one that had a damaged base, according to Pu Zo Bwi, the chairman of the state parliament.
“There was a statue of General Aung San in the town before. It was built on a concrete foundation that got damaged, so we decided to get a new one,” Pu Zo Bwi told Khonumthung News, adding that it was unclear where the new statue would be placed.
“We are still looking for the right place to put it. I think we have two or three locations in Hakha in mind, but I can’t confirm this,” he said.
Statues of the independence hero and father of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi have attracted controversy in several states, where ethnic people see their presence as an attempt to impose a view of the past that ignores the feelings of Burma’s minorities.
This has led to protests and the arrests of activists who say the heavy-handed reaction only confirms their worst suspicions about the government’s intentions.
According to some, however, the problem could be avoided if the role of ethnic leaders was acknowledged alongside that of Aung San.
“We had three Chin independence leaders who signed the Panglong Agreement in Shan State. If we built statues of them to go with the statue of General Aung San, there would be no problem. But if we build just one statue, it creates a problem because then it is a political issue,” said Jacob Thang, who works for a Chin civil society organization.
Earlier this year, officials in Chin State’s Thangtlang Township abandoned a plan to erect a statue of General Aung San after it faced opposition from local residents.
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