Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Burma Military Regime Aimed to End Gambling in Society

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Banyar Kong Janoi

The Burmese regimes slogan is "the land of gold" it implies that no one is struggling in Burma.

The military-government controls every aspect of people’s lives in the country.

All major enterprises are state-own. To do business in Burma you need to have connects to the ruling generals.

The State also tries to control freedom of expression and social morals.

Last month, the regime began a crack down on gambling.

From inside Burma King Kong Janoi reports.

People are crowed in a coffee shop watching the Thai Stock market on satellite TV.

Their interest is not in the performance of the stock market, but in the random, final two digits of the share price.

It’s called to two digits lottery and the winner numbers are calculated in the last minute before the stock market closes. This happens twice a day.

Among them is 30 year old Nai Shwe Htay.

"The reason why I gamble is I am not happy with my low income. I am impatient and want a big amount of money at once. I want to get married soon and I need money for my wedding. Also if I get a large amount of money I can start my own business.”

Each month he gambles 24 US dollars in the hope of winning about 1000 US dollar but so far he has never won.

Gambling is epidemic among Burma's poor, people from the villagers travel to cities just to gamble.

Some go to the temple asking the monk what number will come up next.

If they run out of money the gamble their house, land and businesses.

Layi Mon has watched her neighbors ruined by gambling.

"She ended up committing suicide after she lost everything through gambling and couldn’t pay her debts. And another one her life was destroyed. She had to sell all properties in order to pay off her debt. Now she runs a small roadside shop selling food to survive.”

To address the problem the Burmese military has launched a crack-down on gambling.

The gambling law of 1986 aims to improve Burmese society.

Police have been told to arrest people found gambling. The maximum sentence is two years in Jail.

A public information campaign is also running. There are billboards and signs across the country saying ‘Work with us to wipe out gambling’.

But gambler Non Tama says the authorities and particularly the police are part of the problem.

"They always claim when they arrest people for gambling that they are doing their duty and helping society but in fact they are just looking for money. You can easily bribe them and get off all charges. It’s no big deal. So gambling is actually on the increase.”

Asia Calling tried to get a response from the Burmese police about these allegations.

We rang seven different police stations from the headquarters to local posts and no one was willing to talk.

In 2007 Transparency International named Burma as one of the most corrupted countries in the world.

Due to corruption and mismanagement of the country’s economy unemployment is very high.

The average annual income is less than 400 US dollars.

Hundreds of Thousands of people leave the country every year in order to find jobs in neighbor countries like Thailand.

In coffee shop in the Karen State, unemployed men are trying to guess the next number.

They write down digits and try to logically work it out.

Gambler Nai Mon says the government needs to address the root causes of the gambling problem.

"If people had jobs they wouldn’t gamble so much. I would be busy with my job and wouldn’t have time to gamble. If the government wants to stop the practice they need to improve the economy and focus on creating jobs and spreading the wealth around and improving the living standards of the general population.”

The Burmese military government decline to talk to Asia Calling.

However a lawyer who wants to be unnamed from Burma says this is the law that is good for society.

"When the people gamble, it can destroy public morality because after they lost every thing, they could become thieves and robbers so this law have to introduce to society."