Bosses of Myanmar’s Controversial New Yangon City Project See Major Shakeup

By The Irrawaddy 5 September 2019

YANGON—The sole developer for the controversial New Yangon City project has seen some leadership changes, as two out of five directors have been replaced.

New Yangon City Development Company (NYDC) announced on Wednesday that Yangon Deputy Mayor U Soe Lwin has assumed the role of chairman, replacing Daw Nilar Kyaw.

Yangon City Development Committee secretary Daw Hlaing Maw Oo will be a new director of NYDC, replacing U Han Htoon.

Both Daw Nilar Kyaw and U Han Htoon are cabinet members of the Yangon regional government. The vice chairman and CEO of the company is Serge Pun, a property mogul and chairman of Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings.

The changes in the board of directors came 17 months after the formation of NYDC by the Yangon government to develop the site. The announcement said the reorganization was made by the regional government, without mentioning any reasons for the replacement.

On the west bank of the Yangon River, the 20,000-acre New Yangon City is still in its planning phase. Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein boasted that the new city would create 2 million jobs.

So far, NYDC has signed a framework agreement with China Communications Construction Co. Ltd (CCCC) in April last year for US$1.5 billion for Stage 1 infrastructural work, including two bridges, roads, power plants, water and wastewater treatment plants and an industrial estate.

The NYDC has submitted project details, including technical specifications, a financial proposal and business model of the first stage to the Union government for approval.

Last month, the developer chose Thailand’s PTT Group, comprising PTT, PTTEP and GPSC, for power supplies, and India’s Indraprastha Gas Limited and Gail Consortium (IGL Consortium) for natural gas supplies.

Despite NYDC’s push for the project, the new city has been a source of controversy since the beginning.

Town planners raised the alarm over the flood-prone location and the Yangon regional government was accused of abusing its power by investing 10 billion kyats (US$6.5 million) in the project without the regional parliament’s approval. Furthermore, CCCC has been embroiled in a number of controversies over its involvement in alleged fraud, corruption and bribery in many other countries where it has implemented development projects.

NYDC said it had carried out a flood-risk assessment (FRA) in coordination with Royal Haskoning DHV, a Dutch FRA consultant. Regarding the controversial Chinese firm’s involvement, Serge Pun told a public consultation forum that it would be required to stay on the right track when working with NYDC.