Law­maker calls for probe into Dagon pro­ject land

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - – Trans­la­tion by Zaw Nyunt, Win Thaw Tar, Khine Thazin Han and San Layy PYAE THET PHYO ZAY YAR LIN

An NLD MP yes­ter­day called for the full re­turn, not just a 9-acre por­tion, of pub­lic land near Inya Lake ini­tially given to Marga Land­mark Co for the re­lo­cated Dagon City real es­tate pro­ject.

THE re­turn to pub­lic hands of more than half a plot of land given to Marga Land­mark Co for the re­lo­cated Dagon City real es­tate pro­ject in the wan­ing days of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment is not enough for MP U Maung Maung Ohn, who yes­ter­day called for more.

Nine of the 17.7 acres of pub­lic land granted to Marga have been re­turned to the gov­ern­ment, deputy min­is­ter for ed­u­ca­tion U Win Maw Tun told the Amyotha Hlut­taw yes­ter­day.

The land, near Yangon’s Inya Lake, was owned by what was then the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, but Marga ob­tained a per­mit to de­velop it from the Myan­mar In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion. The con­ces­sion came in Fe­bru­ary, sev­eral months af­ter the real es­tate firm’s ini­tial plans – for a lux­ury high-rise de­vel­op­ment in close prox­im­ity to Sh­wedagon Pagoda – ran afoul of Bud­dhist na­tion­al­ists, the pub­lic and even­tu­ally the gov­ern­ment.

But the new ar­range­ment lacked hlut­taw ap­proval, an is­sue raised by MPs ear­lier this year amid a broader dis­cus­sion of last-minute deal-mak­ing by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment.

U Maung Maung Ohn (NLD; Aye­yarwady 5) yes­ter­day said he would continue to ask ques­tions about what is planned for the area un­til he gets a de­fin­i­tive an­swer. For him, the 9-acre give-back, ten­ta­tively to be the site of a new re­search cen­tre, is not enough.

“I do not ac­cept it be­cause they will build hous­ing or de­vel­op­ment cen­tres, and there will be many peo­ple,” he said. “The fumes from the lab­o­ra­tory are not good in places with lots of peo­ple. It is not ap­pro­pri­ate to take the land for their own self in­ter­est … This land is for the stu­dents to do re­search.”

“Since the era of Gen­eral Aung San, this land has been given out with the aim of do­ing re­search on rice, teak and agri­cul­ture,” he con­tin­ued. “They have taken a state-owned as­set with­out re­port­ing to the hlut­taw and with­out trans­parency. I do not know what they are do­ing with it. I have asked be­cause I as­sumed that the state’s as­set is be­ing ex­ploited through the use of in­ad­vis­able power.”

U Maung Maung Ohn said a lack of qual­ity re­search was one fac­tor keep­ing the coun­try im­pov­er­ished, adding that he hoped to see as much of the 17.7 acres of land as pos­si­ble ded­i­cated to re­search fa­cil­i­ties.

Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, a for­mer re­gional MP who first pro­posed to the Yangon hlut­taw that the pro­ject be can­celled, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that the Dagon land re­lo­ca­tion was not trans­par­ent. The projects need to be re­assessed un­der the new gov­ern­ment, she said.

“This is sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy land,” she said. “I do not un­der­stand why the mil­i­tary owned that land. Those projects should be checked again by the new gov­ern­ment.”

In April, the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy was abol­ished as such and housed un­der the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

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