The Thilawa Special Economic Zone


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Difficult issue for negotiation

Difficult issues for negotiation

1. Since there has never been relocation and resettlement process conducted according to the international standard in Myanmar, the PAPs also misunderstood about the process. The PAPs could not wait for the time to collect data and to prepare for Resettlement Work Plan. The majority of PAPs just wanted to start bargaining how much money they wanted and how much the project could pay them. During the process of consultative meetings, the majority of PAPs showed their frustration by saying that they expected to bargain/ negotiate as soon as possible (say within a week) and thought that it was no necessary to collect data or to prepare the Resettlement Work Plan as they could take some times.

2. Some PAPs sold their places (although they did not have legal ownership documents) to some businessmen behind the scene and kept living in the sold places. The businessmen behind the scene negotiated with some PAPs (who had sold their places to them) to ask for more compensation from the government. Hence, the compensation amount, which they had in their minds, was based on how much the businessmen behind scene had paid rather than the fair value. If the compensation amount was more than their agreed price, they agreed to share a certain percentage. Some businessmen who had bought some places from the PAPs came to the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee (TSEZMC) and asked how they could be compensated.

3. The project area, in 1996, was planned to be developed as an industrial zone by the joint venture company between the construction ministry and a Singaporean company. However, due to the Asian Financial Crisis and the economic sanction imposed by the West, the joint venture company could not continue its development. Hence, the PAPs in these areas were compensated and the land ownership had been transferred to the construction ministry since 1996. Although the amount of compensation then was very small, it was considered to be fair in 1996 as the place was a very far remote area from the Yangon city. Although the compensation had been paid and the replacement land for each PAP were given, the PAPs were not forced to move out of the project area (as the project development was not yet fully implemented) and they were allowed to keep staying and farming in their original places with the promise that they would move out of the project area once the project development got commenced. Hence, the ownership of the project area was already with the government since 1996. However, the PAPs claimed that they owned the land (although they no longer had legal ownership documents) because they were original settler and they had been staying in that place for quite some times. Hence, the most significantmisunderstanding during the negotiation process was that the PAPs thought they owned the land although they no longer had legal ownership document anymore. Then, the TSEZMC negotiated with the PAPs not to go down that road (i.e. the argument regarding whether or not they still own the land) as it would be very costly for them to claim at the court with lawyers, would take a long time and would have lower probability to win the case. It was suggested that compensation regarding relocation, crop losses, crop value for several years as livelihood assistance, and other assistance could be arranged instead of going down the costly and uncertain road.

4. Although the cut-off-date, after which the new entrants or the new houses build would not be entitled to any compensation, was properly and officially announced, most PAPs attempted to build more houses after the cut-off-date in order to get more compensation. Some new entrants also came to the place where the cut-off-date was already announced, with the expectation that they would also get compensated.

5. As per the Resettlement Work Plan, the compensation was categorized into different groups that include, but not limited to, relocation cost (cash), replacement land (non-cash), new house construction (non-cash), crop losses (cash), crop value for six years as a livelihood support (cash), assistance for vulnerable groups (cash), warrantee for employment (non-cash), income restoration program (both cash and non-cash), etc. However, the majority of PAPs are not interested in these different groups of compensation. They only wanted to get paid cash on lump-sum basis so that they could spend it immediately.