Speaking on Tuesday before the Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house of Burma’s parliament, the Paung Township representative argued that objections to the name represent narrow-minded bitterness.
The bridge, set to be completed in April, spans the Than Lwin River, connecting the Mon State’s Capital of Mawlamyine with Bluekyun Island. There has been significant opposition in Mon State to the name, with many arguing that Mon, rather than Burman history should be celebrated in the name. On February 9, the Mon State government decided to drop the name, and has yet to select a replacement.General Aung San was the independence leader of Burma, whose assassination in 1947 is understood by many to have accelerated the ethnic conflicts that have plagued Burma since independence the following year. General Aung San is considered the father of the nation and many major roads, bridges and other civil structures throughout the country bare his name. Yet for many, the agreements made between General Aung San and minority ethnic leaders remain broken promises.
General Aung San’s daughter, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, now leads the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party to which Mi Kon Chan belongs.
Mi Kon Chan urged the Union Government to honor General Aung San for his role as leader of the nation.
“The minority ethnic people should know the difference between a race’s leader and a nation’s leader. Most of the world’s countries recognize their national leaders. But narrow-minded people in this country are bitterly rejecting the name General Aung San.”
She added that General Aung San was assassinated once in body, and that the minority ethnic people are now assassinating him again in name. This, she said, would be shameful before the other countries of the world.
NLD Representative U Tin Ko Ko Oo from Belin Township, also spoke in favor of the name before the Pyithu Hluttaw.
Opposition to the name runs deep in Mon State government. Dr Aung Naing Oo, Deputy Speaker of the Mon State Parliament, said “This is a case for ethnic minority leaders. The Union Parliament should not get involved in the naming process.”
A group of Mon activists sent a letter to the President’s Office and to State Counselor Daw Aung San Su Kyi on February 20, saying that although they want to honor General Aung San, they believe the bridge should bear the name of a Mon leader.
Other civil society groups have also gotten involved. The Association of Mon Monks, the Mon Literature and Culture Organization, and the Mon Youth Organization sent their concerns to the President’s Office, as well as the Mon State government, and the Mon State Parliament on February 8 and 20.
When completed, the bridge will be 1759 feet long and 64 feet wide. Construction was begun in February, 2015 by the government of President U Thein Sein and opening celebrations will take place in April 2017.