Rangoon (Mizzima) – Mizzima has learned that Burma's Asia World port, owned and operated by Tun Myint Naing, will be upgraded and expanded this year to meet international standards. Tun Myint Naing (a.k.a. Steven Law), the son of the late narco warlord Lao Sit Han, is on the US financial sanctions blacklist because of his close ties to Burma's generals.
Tun Myint Naing's port popularly known as 'Ahlone Jetty' is located in Ahlone Township on the outskirts of Rangoon and is an important center for Burma's international trade.
"We heard the port will be expanded to Kyimyindine Township and the total cost of the upgrade will be Ks. 40 billions ($US 40 millions) ", a source with close ties to Asia World told Mizzima.
Tun Myint Naing is considered by many Burma watchers to be a key crony of the Burmese military regime. Mizzima attempted to contact Tun Myint Naing for comment, however our calls were not returned.
When Mizzima contacted the Rangoon Port Authority for information about the port's expansion plans we were simply told that the "export and import of timber, cement and other construction materials are handled at this port".
Shop owners at three important markets located next to Asia World are concerned about the port's expansion plans. The Thiri Mingalar Vegetable Exchange, Sinmin Market and the Sanpya Fish Market are all likely to be demolished to make way for Tun Myint Naing's mega project.
When asked to comment on the port's expansion plans a frustrated store owner told Mizzima, "I have been selling vegetables in Thiri Mingalar market for five years, so I am settled here. Now a clerk from the municipal office told us that our market will be moved to a new place, but we don't know where. He also said that we had to pay money to get spots in the new market. We don't know what to do".
An officer from the Rangoon municipal body had a different view from the shopkeeper. He told Mizzima that the store owners may not have to move, because there has been no official word that Thiri Mingalar will be demolished.
The port's owner Tun Myint Naing also owns the Magwe United Football Club playing in the Myanmar National League (MNL). It is believed that he also controls several gold mines in Kachin State.
On January 25th 2009 officers from Burma's Central Anti-Drug Force seized 29 Kg of heroin on an internationally bound ship, just after it departed from the Asia World port.