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Monks vent fury after minister’s ‘We don’t need Ma-Ba-Tha’ comment

A file photo from 2015 of Ma Ba Tha supporters at the Thuwuna Indoor Stadium, Rangoon. (Photo: DVB)

The Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, commonly known by its Burmese acronym Ma-Ba-Tha, called an emergency meeting on Thursday as it issued a demand to Burma’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi to take action against the Chief Minister of Rangoon for comments he made about the Buddhist nationalist group.

The storm centers on a statement Chief Minister of Rangoon Phyo Min made to exiled Burmese while on a trip to Singapore recently when he said, “We do not need the Ma-Ba-Tha” [ma-ba-tha ma lo up par].

According to media reports, he made similar comments upon his return to Burma.

The Ma-Ba-Tha is an extreme pro-Buddhist organisation, headed by radical monks such as the fervently anti-Muslim orator Wirathu. It stands accused of fostering violence and anti-Muslim sentiment across the country.

The group said that it has sent letters to President Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor Suu Kyi demanding action be taken against the minister before 14 July.

On Thursday, Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein paid homage to State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee [Official monkhood body] Chairman Sayadaw Dr. Bhaddanta Kumarabhivamsa and other committee members at Bhamo Monastery.