Newly rebranded, Ma Ba Tha heads to Rakhine for philanthropic work

The controversial Buddhist organization formerly known as Ma Ba Tha has provided financial and food aid to cyclone victims in northern Rakhine State.

Two months on the 50-year-old widow, who had lived in the rundown camp for displaced people since Rakhine was roiled by communal violence in 2012

Infamous for staging anti-Muslim and pro-nationalists sermons and protests, Ma Ba Tha last month rebranded as a philanthropic group after the Sangha banned the “Committee for the Protection of Race and Religion” as it was officially called in English, from any further activity.

The newly renamed Buddha Dhamma Parahita Foundation joined other Buddhist organizations, including the Dhamma Wunthanu Rakhita Association, in donating K6.3 million and 3,000 viss of dried fish to cyclone-affected monasteries and to Rakhine residents in Maungdaw on June 6.

An additional K4.56 million and 3,000 tonnes of dried fish were donated for cyclone-affected monasteries and residents in Rathedaung township.

“I’m very happy to receive the donation for the 73 damaged monasteries in Maungdaw township,” said Maungdaw District Administrator U Ye Htut, adding that over 140 Buddhist buildings in total were affected by the cyclone.

After receiving the donations from the Buddhist philanthropic groups, U Ye Htut said it is important to preserve the Rakhine ethnicity and the practice of Buddhism in the area.

Northern Rakhine State is majority Muslim.

Ma Ba Tha gained a reputation for stoking fears that Buddhism in Myanmar is under threat from an encroaching Muslim population, and for espousing such sentiment in conflict-riddled Rakhine State.

However, figures from the 2014 census show that the Muslim population has held steady at around 4 percent nationwide, comparable to the results from previous censuses.

Translated by Thida Linn
Edited by Laignee Barron