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Rangoon-based charity group Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS) has urged government authorities to allow their hearses to be registered following the arrest of seven of their members in Pegu [Bago] late last month.
Seven charity group members in Tawi village in Pegu’s Nyaunglebin Township were arrested by local police on grounds that the hearses they were using were unlicensed vehicles.
Kyaw Thu, a well-known former film actor and director-turned-philanthropist who runs the FFSS, said the authorities should issue registration for the hearses to avoid similar issues in the future.
“As everyone should be equal under the law, the authorities should arrest everyone in the country who owns an unlicensed vehicle – including all the charities,” he said. “Then I would like to see if the government would be able to take responsibility for the services the charities were providing.”
Kyaw Thu continued: “There are cases of unlicensed vehicles donated to revered Buddhist monks and the authorities have issued registrations for them. They can do the same for charity groups. They can register the hearses and ambulances we use to allow them to provide a valuable assistance to the public.”
He said the majority of hearses used by free funeral charities across the country – except those in Rangoon – are unregistered because the organisations spend all their money on arranging funerals.
FFSS was set up by Kyaw Thu in the early 2000s to provide free funerals for families who cannot afford the expenses. A regular target of attacks from the Burmese junta, the organisation celebrated its 100,000th free funeral in March 2011.