The Mon State Government will replace the ‘Bop Htaw’ statue at the roundabout near the Thanlwin [Salween] Bridge, the entrance to Mon State’s capital, Moulmien.
The Bop Htaw statue was erected in 2005 to coincide with the opening of the Thanlwin Bridge connecting to Martaban [Mottama] – Moulmein [Mawlamyine], in Mon State.
However, it was removed under the ex-junta Senior General Than Shwe of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in 2007. The statue was removed without approval from the local ethnic people during the middle of the night in 2007’s rainy season. The statue has been in storage at the municipal office near Basic Education High School No. 5, in Shwe Taung Quarter, Moulmein Capital. Upon its removal, the military regime then replaced the Bop Htaw statue with a large alms bowl.
“The Chief Minister has considered to remove the alms bowl at the roundabout in front of High School No.10 and replace it with the Hinthar. Mon political parties have also requested to reinstate the Hinthar statue,” said an official from the Mon State government.
The Mon word ‘Bop Htaw’, known as golden Hinthar in Burmese, translates to golden Brahminy Duck or Sheldrake in English. The bird is the national symbol of millions of ethnic Mon people, particularly those currently living in lower Burma.
Nai Ngwe Thein, Chairman of the Mon National Party (MNP), affirms the account of the “Bop Htaw” statue’s confiscation under the command of the SPDC government and its sudden substitution of an alms bowl.
“Each group of people have their national heritage symbols. Those symbols should be restored. I have heard that the state government will remove the alms bowl and replace it with the Hinthar,” said Nai Ngwe Thein.
In May, when the leaders of the New Mon State Party met with the Mon State government, NMSP’s vice-chairman Nai Hongsar talked with State Chief Minister about replacing the Bop Htaw at the roundabout. The matter has been considered by the chief minister and he will meet with leaders of Mon culture to discuss which direction the Bop Htaw will face, according to the Mon State Government Office.