Taninthayi Region with the mission for socio-economic and regional development
Taninthayi Region in the southernmost part of Myanmar possesses natural beauties, valuable natural resources, and the Taninthayi Region government has reached the fourth year in its drive for multiple developments of the people and the region.
The following is an interview with Chief Minister U Myint Maung of Taninthayi Region:
Q: The main part of the development drive
A: Transport is one of the main sectors of the development drive. The other one is administration. As regards the transport, we are upgrading the Union highway for ensuring smooth transport. We are also concentrating on building and improving rural roads and intra-village roads. Then our attention will be on paving roads connecting the rural areas and the Union highway. The main goal is to narrow the gap between the rural and the urban. Our follow-up programs involve the task of further improving the education, health, trade sectors.
We have special development programs for roads and bridges. The region government increased the provisional amount of the budget for road transport. Between 25% and 26% of the budget is spent for the rural areas, with the goal of accelerating the regional development drive covering multiple sectors.
Q: Construction projects of the main bridges in Taninthayi Region
A: The region government is rebuilding the three main bridges — Thamoklutlut Bridge, Taninthayi Bridge and Pulontontone Bridge. Completion of the bridges will cut the travelling time between Dawei and Kawthough via Myeik. Pulontontone Bridge will become a land mark and tourist attraction of Kawthoung area in the far south. The three bridges will be completed in fiscal year 2019-2020. The targeted completion dates of the remaining bridges – Bawdikan Bridge, Minthanlonghlaw Bridge, Ohndawkan Bridge, in Bokpyin are in fiscal year 2020-2021.
Q: Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ)
A: Chairman of the Central Committee for Development of Special Economic Zones Vice President U Henry Van Thio and central committee members are working hard for the progress of the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The region government is also playing its role with might and main. Unlike the Thilawa SEZ, the Dawei SEZ lacks infrastructure, and it is its disadvantage. It has transport and electricity problems. There is only Hteekhee road which was previously built. But we will build more roads under the NEDA loan, and their standard will be really high. We will take into account the movement and migration paths of wildlife in building the roads. We hope to start the work in 2020 and complete in 2023.
After the completion of the road sector, we have to deal with power supply. The target dates for the completion of the power supply network are in 2021. The power supply project will be implemented under the ADB loan. We hope that investor interest in the Dawei SEZ will increase only after the completion of the road and power supply projects.
Q: Tourism development in the region
A: Myeik, Dawei and Kawthoung of Taninthayi Region have many differences, which create advantages as well as disadvantages for the local tourism industry. We have island tours, pilgrimage tours, especially to Shinkoeshin Pagoda. The number of visitors to the pagoda is increasing. It’s a common knowledge that our islands are almost in the pristine stage. Besides we are arranging sustainable tourism, alongside the conservation programs in developing the island tours. So, the approval of investments for the program mainly depends on their contribution to sustainable tourism. Some small hotels are under construction on the island. High-rise hotels are not allowed. We only permit resort type hotels that are environmentally friendly.
We want to ensure a clean and unspoiled natural environment. As we are going towards sustainable tourism we do not adopt programs just for short-term benefits, but we will only lay down programs that benefits and conserves the region in the long-run. Thanks to all these efforts, Dawei won the Clean Tourist City Award of the ASEAN presented by Brunei in 2020. Myeik also won the Sustainable Tourism Award of the ASEAN. The Union Government should issue legal measures for the systematization of our sustainable tourism. The public participation is also essential.
We won those two awards, thanks to the participation of the Government, the public and the NGOs. We will have to maintain this success. Unity and harmony between the Government and the people will ensure greater success of our sustainable tourism. Some islands have villages. The Government is conducting an awareness program for wastage management at the villages. It is teaching them to understand the dos and don’ts, with the help of civil organizations. We are enjoying the results of the coordinated efforts. We also have the community based tourism (CBT). Normally, hotel business needs a large amount of capital. The State and the region government are encouraging the CBT.
Q: Progress of community based tourism (CBT) in Taninthayi
A: We have three main CBT projects. Dawei has the Sanhlan CBT sponsored by the Government. Actually, it is a G plus P project. We have built a concrete jetty for the convenience of visitors. Myeik has the Donnyaunthmaing CBT. The region government is providing assistance for infrastructure development. Funds were allotted for a flooding jetty which will ensure transport facilitation. Kalonhtato CBT in Yaybyu is being implemented with the participation of INGOs. The CBT projects generate job opportunities, tourism knowledge and new experiences for locals. So, these are the goals of CBT.
Q: Socio-economic development of Salon (Mawkin) people
A: According to our list over 2000 Salon people still live in our region. For various reasons, their population is decreasing gradually. The population decrease is partly caused by dugs abuse and natural disasters, and they lack health knowledge. We are thinking from various angles for the safety of their life and traditions.
The State Counsellor gave us an instruction in connection with the matter in all seriousness.
The region government set up an annual fund of K 100 million for improving their health, education and living conditions to the best of its ability. First, the region government provides them with rice and fishing rods and boats. Beginning this year, the region government is conducting various courses for providing health knowledge to locals and midwifery course and other public health courses in Myeik. The courses are prioritizing the local youths. The related government bodies are giving practical lectures for three months and theoretical lessons for another three months.
Q: Undertakings of development affairs bodies
A: The region government allotted funds for the development undertakings. It is also providing all necessary gear for the development affairs bodies and enforcing the rules. Thanks to the harmonious efforts of the region government, the bodies, NGOs and CSOs, the region won two awards – the Clean Tourist City Award and the Sustainable Tourism Award. In the past, development affairs are relying only on the tax income, but they now have the fund annually provided by the government, apart from tax revenues in carrying out their work.
Q: Problem solving in connection with seized farmland
A: The region government is working in accord with the 52 land records principles issued by the State. It is accelerating the work to return the confiscated land back to the original owner. We are exerting more energy as the President has also urged us to find a comprehensive and fair solution.
Q: Education undertakings
A: The region government upgraded eight high schools, 21 affiliated high schools, 33 middle schools, 34 affiliated middle schools, 22 post primary schools, 17 primary schools and 13 affiliated primary schools totaling 148 schools during the fourth year. During the academic years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 it provided school text books, exercise books and school uniforms for students.
Q: Health undertakings
A: The region government collects all the public requirements and proposals during meetings at different levels, scrutinizes them and presented to the Union Government which fulfills most of them. But some of them can be dealt only through long-term plans.
Q: About the public services
A: Lack of comprehensive knowledge about the public services and programs among the local people in the past had generated difficulties. In order to solve this problem, the Government in office issued the Standard Operation Procedures (SOP). Public services become smoother thanks to the coordination between the people and the relevant departments. Especially, the departments must follow the SOP.
Q: Covid-19 prevention, and containment in the region
We are strictly observing the instructions issued by the President’s Office. So, we are urging people to avoid crowded places and gatherings. As we are bordering Thailand, we have laid down programs to systematically check and admit migrant workers coming back from the other country. We let them enter Myanmar only after the health staff have measured their body temperature and made necessary checks.
Q: Additional information
A: The region government has been realizing its pledges for socio-economic development and ensuring a corruption free administration. It adopted the Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) for every government body to precisely follow. This procedure has further cemented mutual understanding between the people and the government and facilitated the work. SOP can be obtained through mobile applications. We are also paving way for greater public involvement in the government functions and programs, as the success of a government depends much on public participation. (Translated by TMT)