Gov­ern­ment to crack down on il­le­gal ho­tels at Golden Rock pagoda

The Myanmar Times - - News - EI EI THU eiei­thu@mm­times.com

IL­LE­GAL hote­liers and guest­house own­ers at the iconic Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda are about to face con­se­quences, ac­cord­ing to a Septem­ber 12 state­ment from the Min­istry of Re­li­gious Af­fairs and Cul­ture.

Some ho­tels have ex­panded far be­yond their ap­proved size, the state­ment said, while other en­trepreneurs have been charg­ing ex­or­bi­tant prices for vis­i­tors to stay overnight in con­gre­ga­tion halls, a priv­i­lege orig­i­nally meant to be free of charge for monks and those on pil­grim­ages.

“It was in­tended for re­li­gious build­ings, like the con­gre­ga­tion halls, to be free of charge,” min­istry direc­tor U Aung San Win told The Myan­mar Times. “That is why we are im­ple­ment­ing a step-by-step re­sponse, like the state­ment, but have not yet de­ter­mined when we will de­stroy or take ac­tion against il­le­gal build­ings at the pagoda.”

Many re­li­gious pil­grims end up sleep­ing on the Golden Rock pagoda plat­form dur­ing peak sea­son be­cause some con­gre­ga­tion halls were il­le­gally turned into guest­houses, with prices too high for monks to af­ford.

Ad­di­tion­ally, bootleg toll keep­ers de­mand money from re­li­gious pil­grims along the road, pes­ter­ing them as they try to rest, the state­ment said.

Il­le­gal high-rise ho­tels have dam­aged the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and ru­ined views from the pagoda plat­form, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

The min­istry plans to make the con­gre­ga­tion halls free again, crack down on the toll col­lec­tors and take ac­tion against il­le­gal ho­tels.

The Yoe Yoe Lay Ho­tel’s own­ers, for ex­am­ple, were per­mit­ted to build 135 rooms in a 30-foot-tall (9-me­tre­tall) build­ing, but they in­stead built 241 rooms and ex­ceeded the height limit, the state­ment said. The min­istry will de­mol­ish the ex­tra rooms.

“We al­ready re­voked the ho­tel li­cence of Yoe Yoe Lay in Au­gust,” said Min­istry of Ho­tels and Tourism direc­tor U Myo Win Nyunt. “They did not get a con­struc­tion per­mit for the ex­tra 106 rooms. Then the Min­istry of Re­li­gious Af­fairs and Cul­ture will take fur­ther ac­tions.”

The Min­istry of Re­li­gious Af­fairs and Cul­ture and the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Com­mit­tee (Ma­HaNa) will lit­i­gate these is­sues, rather than the gov­ern­ment.

“It is best that the monks and pil­grims stay free of charge at the con­gre­ga­tion halls when they come to Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda,” Ma­HaNa gen­eral sec­re­tary U Sandi Mar Bhivamsa told The Myan­mar Times. “If so, peo­ple can make peace­ful pil­grim­ages with­out get­ting has­sled by money col­lec­tors and overnight trou­ble at the pagoda.”

Photo: Staff

Pil­grims visit Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda in Mon State, where tourism of­fi­cials plan to crack down on mis­con­duct by in­dus­try op­er­a­tors.

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