Alcoholic beverages are regularly being smuggled up to Mount Kyaiktiyo, a sacred Buddhist site in Mon State that is also known as the Golden Rock after a massive boulder that sits precariously near the peak.
Mon MPs discussed the issue yesterday at a state assembly session in Moulmein. Several voiced concern over the number of individuals who had been caught red-handed in recent months trying to carry quantities of liquor along the pilgrimage trail, presumably to sell to thirsty devotees and tourists after they had made the hours-long hike to the summit.
The consumption of alcohol is taboo at Buddhist temples and sites in Burma. Noting this tradition, MP Zaw Zaw Htoo raised the question of whether or not the state assembly would designate Mount Kyaiktiyo as an alcohol-free zone.
In response, Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan said, “The sale of liquor and beer is already prohibited on the site. But when one goes there, they’ll find vendors selling all kinds of booze.”
He added: “Spirits are often poured into energy drink bottles, packed in cases, and then sneaked up the Mount Kyaiktiyo trail. Security guards conduct random checks on porters.”
He said anyone caught selling alcohol at the pilgrimage site would be prosecuted.
On 14 October, two individuals were arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment with labor for selling booze on the site.
Similarly, on 16 November, a man was arrested near the entrance gate to the Golden Rock when security guards found alcohol in his bamboo basket.