Rumours and confusion abound over 11PM lockout laws

YANGON Region Minister for Security and Border Affairs Col Tin Aung Tun told press on 11 May that the government did not issue “any orders” to ensure that restaurants, KTVs and nightclubs close at 11pm. This comes amongst the NLDs “100-day plan” to establish rule of law in Myanmar.
The 11pm “lockout” clause is, in fact, a contractual stipulation applied to all liquor licenses issued to venues in Myanmar, the Global New Light confirmed with a number of industry sources.
The Myanmar Times reported yesterday that a number of venues on Tuesday night were forced to close in order to abide by the 11PM lockout rule brought about by police who threatened further action if their instructions were ignored, seemingly as a result of the Region Government’s crackdown.
The Myanmar Times quoted Police Major Thein Aung as saying that the 11PM lockout rule would be strictly enforced by Yangon Police as a part of the new government’s “100 day plan” to install the rule of law. This has created a public and media storm where it seemingly contradicts the statement made by the Region Minister for Security and Border Affairs.
The Security Minister further stated that rumours came about after meeting with the government.
Social media exploded with angst regarding the news, with many feeling as though the decision was contrary to the regional government’s aims, raising concerns over the potential negative effects on night-time trade.
“I would say that enforcing the early closure rule on the basis of cracking down on crime is about as useful as surgically amputating the foot of a patient with lung cancer,” said Yan Nyein Aung, a Yangon socialite.
Adding, “Crime, gang-related or otherwise, is not an issue at any of the establishments we (colleagues, friends) frequent. I applaud the transition of our country to a democratic system and wish our new government all the best but I feel this decision will do great harm to the nightlife and the people of my community.”
Chief Minister of Yangon Region U Phyo Min Thein earlier this week gave his vow that he would curb organised gang violence and other crimes in Yangon Region at a meeting focused on the regional government’s 100-day plan, citing a need for increased police presence.
If the 11PM contractual lockout is enforced there are concerns that the measure will not prove effective and may become counterproductive, considering the manpower and resources required to enforce the rule city-wide. According to UN statistics from 2012 Myanmar overall had 154 police per 100,000 people, a number considered to be alarmingly low. From September 2013-15 the European Union organised community policing and crowd management training courses with the Myanmar Police Force. The programme was cancelled earlier this year.

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