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2013 Myanmar Games

Land dispute muddies waters for Myanmar's SEA Games

Yangon - A land dispute over the yachting event venue for the South-East Asian Games to be hosted by Myanmar this year has landed three people in jail, reports said Sunday.

The Games starting on December 11 will be the Myanmar’s first time hosting a major sporting event, and marks the country’s "return to the international arena," the Myanmar Times reported.

But the weekly warned that the nation’s improved image was threatened by an ongoing legal dispute over a 30-acre plot of beach front land in Ngwe Saung, designated for spectators and competitors in the yachting events.

"Three brothers - Sein Than, Soe Lwin and Kyin Myint - have found themselves entangled in an legal battle that has already seen themserve a two-month prison term," the Myanmar Times reported.

They were found guilty on October 5 of trespassing and sentenced to two months hard labour.

"Those who trespassed were the Ministry of Sports," Sein Than told the Myanmar Times upon his release on December 5.

The brothers alleged they were forced to sell 10 acres of theirland in 1997 to the then-ruling military junta "well below the market price, as part of a regional development plan," which has now been included in the SEA Games complex.

The brothers attempted to reclaim the land in 2011, after a new elected government came to power and began to implement political reforms that led to the dropping of economic sanctions against the country that was under military rule between 1962-2010.

Although government has dismissed the brother’s claims, the dispute is not likely to go away, the Myanmar Times said.

The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has also shown interest in the case, the newspaper said.

"I don’t see any rule of law in the Ngwe Saung land issue," WaiHlaing Tun, a lawyer from the NLD who is advising the brothers, told the Myanmar Times. "The minister for sports is assuming that he can do anything he likes."




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