RANGOON — An upgrade to an airport on the Shan State-China border proposed by the grandsons of former ruling general Ne Win has been denied by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), the department’s deputy director general told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
The Omni Focus Co. Ltd, run by U Kyaw Ne Win and U Zwe Ne Win, held discussions with the Shan State government—including Shan State Chief Minister Dr. Lin Htut and his ministers—on Oct. 27 regarding changes to the airport in Muse. Omni typically engages in business activities involving hotels, tourism, construction and transportation.
“We’ve received the proposal, but we’ve already informed them that the project is not possible,” deputy director general of the DCA U Ye Htun Aung said.
According to Shan State planning and economy minister U Soe Nyunt Lwin, no agreement or decision has been reached yet.
“As this airport project has been delayed since the previous government, we, the state government, couldn’t make a decision by ourselves. The Union government is responsible,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Muse, which lies on the border with China, has become one of the country’s biggest border trading points. Yet Muse’s airport has long been out of use, though there has long been talk of an upgrade.
According to U Soe Nyunt Lwin, military and security issues need to be considered in the project, due to its border-based location.
“The military’s agreement may be needed in order to upgrade the airport project and that’s why it’s been delayed,” he speculated.
The Irrawaddy called U Zwe Ne Win, but could not reach him for comment.
According to Shan State government representatives, in addition to the Omni Focus Co., Shwe Shan Pyay Co. Ltd, owned by former Shan State minister Sai Aik Pao, Htoo Co. Ltd. owned by U Teza, and New Star Light Co. Ltd. have also applied to construct a new airport in Muse.
While Omni Focus Co. applied for the permit under the new National League for Democracy-led government, the other three companies applied to lead the project under the previous military-backed government, said U Soe Nyunt Lwin.
Also proposed in the Oct. 27 meeting with Omni Focus were solar energy projects for rural areas of Shan State; further details are not yet known.
U Soe Nyunt Lwin said that the Shan State government would welcome the solar energy project if Omni Focus’s proposal is ready for submission.
“As for the solar energy project, it is green energy and our government has no reason to reject it. We would permit any company, not only them [Omni Focus], to put forward such an investment,” said U Soe Nyunt Lwin.