Chinese Attack on Local Officials in Parking Spat Raises Questions in Myanmar’s Yangon

The arrest and swift release on bail of five Chinese nationals who assaulted a Myanmar police officer and local administrative officials outside Yangon at the weekend have angered local officials over foreigners being allowed to get away with breaking laws, police and regional lawmakers said Monday.

On Dec. 8, area residents complained to authorities that a Chinese national’s vehicle was blocking the entrance to a house in Hlaingtharyar township on the outskirts of the commercial capital Yangon. A fight broke out when residents complained to the men, with the five Chinese attacking the officer and officials, the sources said.

They parked the vehicle, blocking the entrance, said Major Khin Zaw of the Hlaingtharyar township police. When local residents talked to them to complain, they got into a fight. When the police and ward administrators arrived to calm them down, they physically assaulted them.

It resulted in minor injuries on both sides, he said. One police officer and five ward administrators were slightly injured.

Among the injured were Thein Tun, a ward administrator who oversees 100 households, and community leaders Tun Lwin, San Oo, and Myint Soe, who received minor head wounds during the fight, he said.

Authorities meanwhile apprehended the Chinese, who are legal immigrants in Myanmar, and charged them under Myanmar’s Penal Code for causing harm to public servants on duty and abetting the offense, Khin Zaw said.

They were later released on bail because of the nature of their crimes, he said.

They might be receiving treatments for their injuries, he added.

Khin Zaw noted that there has been an increase in the number of crimes, including fraud and property damage, committed by Chinese nationals living in the township.

Township residents have raised questions on social media as to whether Chinese citizens who live in the township’s FMI City, Myanmar’s first gated residential community, are really legal immigrants and whether they are involved in crime.

Situated about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of downtown Yangon, the residential complex houses almost 8,000 residents in 2,000 properties on 465 acres of land, according to a September report in the Myanmar Times.

The number of Chinese nationals in Hlaingthayar has multiplied, said Win Maung, a lawmaker who represents the township’s constituency in Yangon’s regional parliament. The number of Chinese-owned businesses is also growing in various sectors. Chinese nationals live in almost every neighborhood here.

The number of problems and crimes that they are involved in has also grown, he added. Chinese nationals are not strictly abiding by Myanmar’s rules and regulations.

Win Maung did not provide statistics on alleged Chinese crimes.

There are also complications in government policy, he said, adding that law enforcement officers and government departments are reluctant to take legal action against Chinese nationals involved in crime because they are foreigners.

Win Maung said the township is an agglomeration of industrial zones and that many foreigners who invest in and work for the various firms there live in the area.

He also said that neighborhood administrators and government departments are not taking firm action against foreigners who violate rules and break laws.

We are aware that there is corruption among neighborhood administrative officials and government officers, he said. As a result, they do not deal with crime properly. It makes the existing problems worse.

‘An ineffective bureaucracy’

Moe Moe Su, minister of Yangon region’s Ministry of Labor, Immigration, and Population, said authorities have recently conducted impromptu searches of Chinese nationals living in FMI City.

The landlord of the house where the five arrested Chinese nationals lived was charged for violating Myanmar’s immigration laws, he added.

We have charged the landlord under the Immigration Law, Moe Moe Su said. It is common knowledge that landlords are required to report information about the foreigners who live in their houses by submitting a document called Form C. Since he hasn’t done this, we have charged him.

Lawmaker Than Naing Oo, who has raised questions in the Yangon regional parliament about Chinese nationals living in the region, said a lack of enforcement of bureaucratic procedures has led to the problems.

If there are foreigners staying in the residential homes, it is mandatory that they report to the police and immigration authorities, he said. Township-level administrations should be informed through ward-level administrations. These problems have resulted because of an ineffective bureaucracy.

Labor rights activists said among the many garment factories and light industries in the Hlaingtharyar Industrial Zone, Chinese-owned operations generate most of the problems and disputes that occur in the township. The zone is one of the largest industrial parks in Myanmar.

The activists said they will monitor authorities to ensure that they take effective action against Chinese nationals who do not follow rules and regulations.

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Posted in Market December 9, 2019