What was supposed to be a public forum on the peace process in Bago Region this week turned into more of a lecture when the question and answer portion of the event was cut.
The Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee of Bago Region’s September 12 meeting in Kyaukkyi township attracted a crowd of about 400 people.
“They [the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee of Bago] explained how the JMC came into existence and about the peace process. The ceremony ended after the [Southern] Command’s commander gave the closing speech,” Naw Ta Bee Thar, a local civil society representative told KIC News. “The question and answer session wasn’t included. The people who attended the ceremony felt weird because they had to leave after listening to the talks. [The JMC] should have given the public a chance to ask questions.”
Local MP U Tin Sann Oo, who is also the chair of the Bago Regional Hluttaw’s Ethnic Affairs Committee, blasted the JMC for failing to be transparent. He said that local residents had attended the event hoping to discuss local issues that are important for the JMC to hear and respond to.
Seven members of the 14-member Bago Region JMC attended the meeting, including the JMC chair, Major General Myat Kyaw, who leads the Southern Command, and committee vice chair Saw Lin Aung.
The committee members responded to allegations about their lack of transparency by noting that they have been meeting with the public every month.
“Question and answer sessions were included in the previous meetings. It just wasn’t included on the agenda this time,” Say Htoo Blad, a civilian representative member of the JMC told KIC News on September 13.
“People have been talking about the need to include the question and answer session. We will submit this [request] during the next [JMC] meeting.”
The Bago Region JMC was established in Taungoo on October 14, 2016. The committee is comprised of 14 members: five representatives from the Karen National Union [KNU], five representatives from the Tatmadaw and four civilian representatives.