NAYPYITAW — State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has bought more than 90 acres of land in the capital’s Ottarathiri Township for 700 million kyats ($444,000) for her Daw Khin Kyi Foundation to open a vocational training school and establish a forest.
Myanmar’s de facto leader filed the paperwork herself to buy the site from the Naypyitaw Development Committee.
The land itself cost 5 million kyats per acre and the land permit cost another 40 kyats per square foot.
“The land permit was granted about three months ago. The land was acquired in line with the law,” a source with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy in Naypyitaw told The Irrawaddy, denying rumors that the state counselor had confiscated the property.
Any non-governmental organization can apply to buy land for 5 million kyats per acre in Naypyitaw, the source added.
“Land is not given away for free. There is vacant land. The applicant must show valid documents and must fence the land immediately after buying it,” he said.
The Daw Khin Kyi Foundation confirmed the purchase. Spokesman U Thant Thaw Kaung said the foundation had planned to launch the project on Monday but has had to postpone it for several reasons.
“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will launch it next year. We can only say this much for the time being. It is not yet ready,” he told The Irrawaddy.
According to sources close to the foundation, a forest will be established on the 93 acres, which already has sparse tree cover, as part of an environmental conservation drive and that a vocational training school will open there. The school will teach landscaping to youth who have not completed their formal education.
“The leaders have not revealed the project because no preparation has been done on the ground,” the source said. “It is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s idea. But it is still an idea, and a lot of support will be needed.”
In response to widespread flooding across Myanmar over the past few years, the project aims to raise public awareness of — and disseminate knowledge about — environmental conservation through landscaping.
“There is a need to educate the public about the environment. But it is not a profession that provides livelihoods. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wants to create jobs that earn money and contribute to environmental conservation at the same time,” a source told The Irrawaddy.
Lower House lawmaker U Soe Moe Thu, who represents Irrawaddy Region’s Myaungmya Township, said his constituents appreciate the foundation’s work.
“We opened a mobile library in cooperation with the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation in Myaungmya and it has been a success. The hospitality training school has also been successful. The foundation finds jobs for those who complete courses at the training school,” he said.
The Irrawaddy visited the site the foundation has just purchased in Naypyitaw. It sits near Raja Thingaha Housing 2 and the Ocean Center and has yet to be prepared for development.
The foundation also plans to locate its headquarters on the site in the future.
Others who have bought up land in Naypyitaw include many of the top brass of the former State Peace and Development Council government including former Senior General Than Shwe, former Vice Senior General Maung Aye, former General Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, former General Thura Shwe Mann, former General and ex-President U Thein Sein and former Union Election Commission chairman U Tin Aye. Some of them also live there.
The U Thein Sein government established Raja Thingaha Housing 1 and 2 for its ministers, deputy ministers, union-level officials and directors-general.
The Daw Khin Kyi Foundation was established in 2012 by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in memory of her mother, Daw Khin Kyi, to improve health, education and living standards across the country.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.