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Myanmar Central Bank Vice-Governor Shot at Home in Yangon

The shooting comes days after the central bank issued a controversial order requiring all foreign exchange earned by citizens and firms be converted to local currency within 24 hours


Protesters rally in front of troops outside the central bank in Yangon shortly after the coup in February 2021. File photo: Reuters.

 

The deputy governor of Myanmar’s central bank was rushed to hospital on Thursday after being shot at her flat in Yangon, as anti-regime groups ramp up attacks on officials working for the junta, local media outlets said.

Some pro-military accounts on Facebook claimed that Than Than Shwe, 55, died just before midday on April 7, but army spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun told the media later that the vice-governor was admitted to a military hospital with “minor” injuries, Irrawaddy reported.

The shooting, by two men allegedly linked to an anti-regime group, comes just days after the central bank issued a controversial order requiring that all foreign exchange earned by citizens and businesses be converted into local currency at the official rate “within one working day.”

The order sparked widespread concern among the business community, who said it would hurt exporters and importers who depend on the US dollar for their livelihood.

Critics slammed the move as a bid for foreign currency by an increasingly desperate group of generals who have lost touch with reality while their troops face guerrilla attacks by People’s Defence Force groups that have sprung up in many parts of the country.

The economy has been hammered since the coup on February 1 last year, which sparked widespread protests and a civil disobedience movement that led to hundreds of thousands refusing to work for the government or even pay bills for services such as power.

The World Bank estimated that the economy had shrunk by nearly 20% last year and that millions of people are suffering because of lack of food and employment.

“The situation and outlook for most people in Myanmar continues to be extremely worrying,” Mariam Sherman, the World Bank country director for Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR, said in late January.

“Recent trends of escalating conflict are concerning – firstly from a humanitarian perspective but also from the implications for economic activity. Moreover, with a low vaccination rate and inadequate health services, Myanmar is highly vulnerable to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.”

Dozens have been pouring across the 2,000km-long border with Thailand almost daily in recent weeks in a bid to try to get work, keeping Thai authorities busy rounding them up.

 

• Jim Pollard

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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