By Kyaw Hsu Mon

U Zo Zam, chairman of the Chin National Party. Pic: Thiri Lu

What has the Chin National Party been doing lately?

Recently, I’ve been struggling with the problem that the border markers between Sagaing Region and Chin State have been shifted about 30 feet from their original place. The markers have moved 30 feet into Chin State and while this is seemingly a small issue it is one I am worried could escalate so I sent our secretary there to solve it. How can we achieve peace when these kinds of issues are still occurring? I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened during the time of the military government but this is an elected, civilian government. I’m not even sure senior government officials in Nay Pyi Taw know about it.

You must get complaint letters from Chin people. What’s the number one issue that people write to you about?

Before we got many complaint letters about religious issues but since April those letters have mostly stopped. Recently, near Mount Kennedy in Chin State, there were some soldiers who extorted money from residents and caused conflicts so I got some complaint letters from local people about it. From what I’ve been told those soldiers don’t want to accept the change that is happening in our country; they want to administer themselves. At the same time, the local authorities don’t know how to manage this issue. Another issue is that there still has been no elections to choose new local officials and this needs to urgently happen … the impact [of not appointing new officials] is the continuation of problems at the community level – some local officials who were appointed by the former government have become like little dictators. We don’t want these kinds of people.

What is Chin State Hluttaw doing then? Hasn’t it been working to resolve these issues?

The Chin State Hluttaw has no budget. I asked the hluttaw speaker whether he planned to call the hluttaw in the next year and he didn’t respond.

Many young Chin people head abroad to seek better job opportunities. How can we entice them back?

In my parent’s era, being in the army was considered a good profession; there were many Chin soldiers in military. Then we attended university to have a government job. But during the Burma Socialist Program Party-era, there were no job opportunities, even for graduates. It seemed like Chin people could only become police, teachers or staff in the cooperatives ministry – the jobs other nationalities didn’t want to do. There were few opportunities for Chin people ... [and today] there are still no jobs for us. Most Chin parents don’t have enough money to support their children to go to university. Instead, they send their children overseas to have good job opportunities.

The new government talks about poverty reduction and it is a good start. But how do you think we feel when a large five-star hotel in [the Chin State capital] Haka appears but not many of the jobs are for local people? We welcome investment in our Chin State but it needs to create job opportunities for young Chin people. We still have much natural beauty in the Chin hills and that means there is good potential for tourism. I think there are also good opportunities for investment in the garment industry, because Chin are good workers.

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