Myanmar State Counsellor courts investment for strife-torn Rakhine state

23 February 2019
Myanmar State Counsellor courts investment for strife-torn Rakhine state
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended and addressed the opening ceremony of Rakhine State Investment Fair (2019) held at Rakhine State, Thandwe Township, Ngapali Beach, Jasmine Ngapali Resort Hotel yesterday morning. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi touted Rakhine state's "untapped" economic potential to investors Friday, but glossed over violence that has scorched the area.  

Rakhine, a vast stretch of arable land covering Myanmar's western flank, with off-shore oil and gas deposits and a long coastline, is also one of the country's poorest states. 

It has been scored by ethnic and religious conflict, especially in its restive northern region closest to Bangladesh. 

More than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border after a bloody army crackdown in August 2017.

The army is now also fighting the Araken Army group, rebels from the Rakhine ethnic minority, who are Buddhist. 

But in opening remarks to foreign companies at a Rakhine investment forum Suu Kyi gave an upbeat characterisation of the economic boon awaiting investors.

Much of the state's potential "still remains untapped", she said at the forum in Rakhine's Ngapali beach, which is far south of the conflict area.

She trailed the promise of tourism, manufacturing and specifically the oil and gas sector as "one of the shining assets of Rakhine State".

Participants from India, Japan, Korea, Thailand and China were in attendance -- the latter is building a massive port in the south of Rakhine and pipelines running through the strategically important state. 

Suu Kyi blamed the international community for focusing "narrowly on negative aspects related to problems" in the northern part of the state rather than the potential to uplift Rakhine through development.

Rakhine, she said, is brimming with opportunities and "warm and friendly people, all eager to be part of the development adventure".