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FDI projects in Mon State; a mix of positive and negative impacts

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The foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Mon State are not solely beneficial. They also negatively impact the lives of the people within the state, a consensus reached during a debate held by Guiding Star Mon Journal last Friday.

Under the title “Will foreign direct investment projects improve Mon State?”, Guiding Star Mon Journal organized the debate at Pine Khit Hall, in Zayjo Ward, Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, on March 25.

Will foreign direct investment projects improve Mon State?’ debate (Photo: MNA)
Will foreign direct investment projects improve Mon State?’ debate (Photo: MNA)

“If we want to have development, we have to invest. That is the right process. A win-win. If there are more projects, there will be more foreign or local investment along with economic development. We will see more job opportunities. The technology will also improve. It is necessary to invest. After the investment, if the projects cause negative impacts, we have to reduce the negative impacts as much as possible,” said Nai Ye Zaw, one of the debaters.

Nai Ye Zaw added that there would be fewer negative impacts if the companies involved were only allowed to proceed with projects after being inspected in accordance with the law.

The event attracted over 40 participants including representatives from Women’s Party (Mon), Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and several civil society organizations in the state.

The debaters were U Kyi Zaw Lwin (social development observer), Nai Ye Zaw (author and politician), U Maung Maun Zaw Htun (secretary of Mawlamyine Township Development Supporting Committee) and Mi Cherry Soe (head of Salween River Network Research Group).

Min Aung Mon, Mon State Hluttaw representative from Kyaikmayaw Township, believed that investment companies should only go ahead with projects if the locals accept them.

“When foreign investment companies come to our country, most of them reach out to the Pyidaungsu[Union] Government directly. However, if the government has wider knowledge and allows companies do their projects only in accordance with the law and the wishes of the people, the projects will be implemented and ultimately beneficial,” said Min Aung Mon, who also attended the debate event.

At the event, there was also a Q&A session between attendees and debaters. The discussed topics included the potential lack of progress due to public anxiety regarding development projects, the locals’ ability to terminate projects agreed upon by the government and investing companies, and the implementation of projects without the consultation with local people.

At the moment, there are two controversial foreign investments that were discussed at the debate event; the proposed coal fired power project by Toyo Thai Corporation in Parlain region, Ye Township, and the ready-to-operate Mawlawmyine Cement Limited (MCL), in Kyaikmayaw Township, by Thai company, the Siam Cement Group (SCG). However, the locals in the area are worried about the negative impacts from the projects and are opposing them.

Guiding Star Mon Journal previously held debates titled “How to prevent drugs spreading among the youth”, “Can the new government enforce a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement inking from all ethnic armed groups”, and “What progress can be achieved for ethnic nationalities in the 2015 elections?”.

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