Amidst Controversy, Myanmar Military Chief visits Coco Islands
Myanmar state media official website Myawaddy. Net reported that Chairman of State Administration Council Prime Minister Senior General Min Aung Hlaing visited Cocokyun Township and met with departmental personnel and town elders.
He was reportedly accompanied by his “wife Daw Kyu Kyu Hla, Joint Secretary of the Council Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo and wife, members of the Council, union ministers, Chief Minister of Yangon Region U Soe Thein, senior military officers of the Office of the Commander-in- Chief, Commander of Yangon Command Maj-Gen Zaw Hein and officials, met departmental personnel, locals and the town elders at the City Hall of Cocokyun Township in Yangon Region on April 09.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing highlighted that he had first visited the Coco Islands township known as Cocokyun Township on April 8, 2012 and the current visit was the 19th.
He explained the assistance provided by the Tatmadaw for the regional development
Importantly he said, “Coco trees grown in the regional naval headquarters in Cocokyun Township now will be fruitful within a few years’ time”.
“Operating cattle farming businesses systematically will be beneficial to the region. Only if regional businesses are successfully operated, will the region and locals earn income. As commodity production businesses based on agriculture and livestock farming will help the region develop, all are to make efforts for that,” as per Myawady.
The visit comes amidst reports in media that China is building a spy base on the Coco Islands. Irrawaddy believes that due to this factor the official media of Myanmar downplayed the visit of General Min Aung Hlaing focusing on the development works.
Myanmar military and government spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun has denied that the infrastructure build up has any military purpose and China has also rejected reports of Coco Islands as a “listening post” in the region.
As the Coco Islands are 55 kms off the Andaman and Nicobar there are concerns that Myanmar may allow the PLA Navy to use the facilities on the Islands for surveillance and tracking through satellite stations.
The reality of expansion of infrastructure on Coco Islands is evident, whether the PLA Navy will be permitted to use the same is a matter of speculation.
At the same time the Andaman and Nicobar Command would be evidently watching for signs of the same vigilantly and the issue may also have been taken up by the Indian government with the military led State Administrative Council (SAC) in Nay Pyi Taw.