Controversial Bogyoke Aung San Bridge opens in Mon State

Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan
Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan

Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan announced the opening of the embattled Bogyoke Aung San Bridge today. For months, the bridge has been a point of contention between the NLD and ethnic Mon people in the state.

“People can use Bogyoke Aung San Bridge from 5am to 10pm starting on April 27. May the development of Mon State and all Myanmar people be happy and healthy,” said Dr. Aye Zan wrote on Facebook.

In February, MP Mi Ko Chan proposed naming the bridge after Bogyoke Aung San, the founder of the Myanmar Armed Forces and father of Aung San Suu Kyi, to the Lower House of parliament.

The proposal drew the immediate ire of ethnic Mon people, who felt the name ignored their unique history and culture in favor of Myanmar’s Bamar majority.

Thousands protesters led by Mon nationals held demonstrations against the proposed name in February and March.

Even Mi Ko Chan’s father, Minister for Ethnic Affairs Nai Thet Lwin, criticized his daughter and the NLD for their tone-deafness.

The proposal to name the bridge after Bogyoke Aung San ultimately passed in the parliament, but the drama left the NLD bruised. In the by-elections earlier this month, the NLD lost to a USDP candidate. The USDP had opposed the naming of the bridge after Bogyoke Aung San in the national parliament.

The concrete bridge is 5,203 feet long and 28 feet wide and features a two-lane motorway that runs from between the state capital Mawlamyine and Chaungzone Township on nearby Bilu Island.

Construction began in February 2015 with a budget of over K59 billion.

The opening ceremony was scheduled for February but was cancelled because of the protests against the name. Instead, the fanfare was limited to a Facebook post.

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