As official Burmese census enumerators begin their task in earnest, Mon ethnic officials are conducting a head-count of their own. The program is intended to determine whether Mon National Race Representatives could be warranted in divisions outside of Mon State that have large populations of the ethnic minority.
The count is underway in Rangoon, Pegu and Tenasserim Divisions.
The 2008 constitution provides for National Race Representatives to be appointed in administrative regions that boast a “suitable population” of a single ethnic group. That representative is then “entitled to participate in the legislature of Regions or States”.
Currently, the only Mon ethnic affairs minister who exists outside of Mon State represents those in Karen State.
“The constitution provides that we can appoint a representative for the Mon population in a region if we have the numbers,” said Min Soe Aung, director of Rangoon Division Mon Population Survey Programme.
“Also recording a precise number of the populations in administrative regions will be helpful in introducing Mon curriculums and organising events such as the Mon National Day, and allow us to work together for social and economic affairs.”
The independent Mon population count began in Rangoon and Pegu Divisions in mid-2013. So far, 40,000 Mons have been registered across 40 townships in Rangoon Division.
Min Soe Aung believes there to be more than 60,000 Mon in Rangoon Division. However, he suggested that previous listings have identified Mons incorrectly and created a shortfall in numbers — ruling out a Mon representative in Rangoon.
This year, the program began in Tenasserim Division where according to Mi Kun Chan Noon of the Tenasserim Division Census Steering Committee, around 50,000 Mons have been counted across 10 townships so far.
The count will not effect Mon participation in the upcoming nationwide census.