In Burma’s increasingly congested commercial capital, winning the affections of the public as a traffic cop is not easy, with widespread perceptions of the typical police officer as lazy, unfriendly and likely to demand “tea money” from motorists. For his part, Khin Myint Maung is doing his best to better his profession’s image, working at the junction of Dhammazedi and Link roads in Rangoon’s Bahan Township, where he is cultivating a growing fan base.
“We, passengers, car owners and bus drivers, love him,” Thu Thu, an office worker who passes through the Dhammazedi junction every day on her commute to work. “He is an extraordinary traffic policeman. He is always doing his duty actively at that junction, rain or shine, and he is very friendly. Some people offer him food, cold drinks and cash, not as a bribe but because they love him.”
That public love has gotten the attention of Khin Myint Maung’s colleagues and superiors as well, with the 25-year-old wining the Best Private Award for 2013, which was conferred by the Rangoon Traffic Police. Khin Myint Maung beat out 37 other privates among the 945 traffic policemen at 38 traffic offices in Rangoon, with the 38 finalists voting among themselves for the best of Rangoon’s best. The national police promoted him to corporal on Oct. 1, the 49th anniversary of the country’s police force.
“We are really proud of Khin Myint Maung. We train to produce traffic policemen like Khin Myint Maung, who performs his duties very well and also receives the appreciation of public,” Police Major Thar Htay of Rangoon’s traffic police force said.
The Irrawaddy caught up with Khin Myint Maung on his lunch break last week, where he talked about his dedication to the job and the public admiration that it has brought.
Question: When did you start policing traffic?
Answer: I joined in 2009, when I was 20 years old.
Q: When did members of the public start showing their appreciation for the job that you do?
A: They started to recognize me after one year of traffic policing experience.
Q: Why do you think you have so many admirers?
A: I always clear the road of traffic patiently and also work hard to fulfill this public service obligation.
Q: Many people say you are different from your colleagues. Do you want to comment on this?
A: We can see in every department and job that while some work actively with enthusiasm, others do not. But they all are doing their duty. I only want to say that.
Q: How many awards have you received?
A: I received the ‘Role Model Private Award’ by the Yangon Police Force in 2011 and the Best Private Award 2013 by the Yangon Traffic Police in 2013.
Q: Any theories on why you won the Best Private Award for 2013?
A: I think because I work hard and I never evade any duty.
Q: Do you think the public’s appreciation had anything to do with it?
A: Yes, I think so.
Q: How did you feel when you received the award?
A: I was happy because I sacrificed a lot. I work with great effort.
Q: Have you received any other awards?
A: Yes, I got the ‘7Day Hero Award’ from 7Days News journal in 2012.
Q: Some people dislike other traffic policemen. What do you think about that?
A: It is not only the traffic police. This happens everywhere. People will like those who do their jobs with good intentions and dislike those who work without good intentions.
Q: Why did you decide to become a traffic cop?
A: I am an Arakanese from Sittwe and when I came to Yangon, I lived with my uncle, who is a traffic police officer. I followed him.
Q: There is a perception that government employees often abuse their authority when it comes to serving the public. What do you have to say to that?
A: That may have been the case in the past but now Burma is changing and it is really rare now.