Narinjara news

Gambling Schoolteachers of Burma

Sittwe, 11th November: The state employees, mostly schoolteachers in western Burma, have for some time been occupied with gambling in the form of what is popularly known as "Shay Htee" - an illegal lottery operation, according to our correspondent from Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State.

The lottery takes the winning numbers of the popular Thai fortnightly state lottery and the winners are decided by taking into account of the last three digits of the winning numbers. The Thai lottery has eight digit numbers on its face, the last three of which are taken into consideration for dividing the cumulative ‘stake’. The winning numbers are unofficially announced by those who surreptitiously run the ring from Rangoon.

The winning number receives a prize of kyat 52,000 for a laid bet of kyat 100; kyat 520,000 for a bet of kyat 1,000; the prize money therefore is set to 520 times the basic bet made. Many of the schoolteachers, mostly female, cannot be seen anywhere in the schools on the days of the ‘lottery day’.

A worried guardian of a school going kid from the capital of Rakhine State, Sittwe, told our correspondent that, the salary the teachers are given by the state is not enough even to buy a 50 kg bag of rice. For this reason it is not unusual for the teachers to wager on the so-called ‘lucky draw’ which in this case is actually a gambling ring named and run differently. Meanwhile, the students suffer the most as the teachers keep their time busy speculating on the Shay lottery instead of attending the classes regularly.

As the Shay Htee has become out of control reaching to every strata of the society, the leader of the ring - Ms Ma Moe of Kyebingyi Quarter of Sittwe - was arrested by the military intelligence last September. It is alleged that she had to pay an undisclosed large sum of bribe to the military intelligence officials for her freedom. Villagers in the area allege that, Ma Moe had not only links with the MI officials but also actually had partnership in running the business with some of the top level rich MI officials in the town.

Small Shay-hti gambling rings in every quarter of the towns of Rakhine State operate by regularly paying kickbacks to the police and MI personnel.

"Though the Shay gambling is not legal, its popularity in the ranks and files of the state employees including the army and police personnel will make it as popular and uncontrollable as before" said a retired judge in the town, "The state will have to shut its eyes to the operation of this ring because of the poor salary it pays to its employees which is not even enough to keep body and soul together, and rather quicken the people to get demoralized." #