Tens of thousands of jade workers and dealers in Mandalay took to the streets on Tuesday to protest against forced relocation to a new jade market under construction in Amarapura Township.
Than Win, chairman of the committee for upgrading the existing gems market, said the relocation to the new market could cause difficulties for about 500,000 people including dealers and brokers such as transportation problem and poor security.
The protesters claimed that the proposal to build a new jade market was allegedly engineered by a jade company owner Soe Naing in collusion with the local authorities.
Some jade workers say the old market pays the Mandalay City Development Committee over Ks 100 million in taxes. They have also accused the mayor and committee members of appropriating the revenues as the money is never used for the good of the market, calling for Union government to investigate.
Regional Development Affairs Minister Aung Maung had tabled a motion in regional parliament saying that the new jade market (also called the jade garden) would be flanked by a hospital and a five-storey building for jade workers. He told reporters approval would not be sought from anyone.
Thein Aung Myint, one of the protesters said: “We are not protesting against the jade garden. But we’re protesting because we don’t want to move out of the old market. Regional parliament accepted the motion. So, we have to rely on Union parliament only.’’