Military Rejects Returning Yangon Stadium to the Public

By San Yamin Aung 16 August 2017

YANGON — Myanmar’s military said it has no intention to return a 13-acre sports ground and stadium in Yangon’s Hlaing Township to the public, when replying to a lawmaker’s question in Parliament on Wednesday.

U Aung Kyaw Kyaw Oo, a Lower House lawmaker representing Hlaing Constituency, asked whether there was a plan to give the property back to Hlaing Township residents during the parliamentary session.

Deputy Defense Minister Maj-Gen Myint Nwe replied that the [former] Ministry of Construction transferred the 13.754 acres of land including the stadium to the Ministry of Defense on July 30, 1991.

“Now, it is the only stadium used for trainings and competitions of the regiments and corps under Yangon Region Military Command. So, we can’t give it up back,” he said.

The Deputy Defense Minister added that athletic training was being held for military members there with the intention of winning international sporting titles for the country.

The department of Sports and Physical Education under the Ministry of Sports constructed a sports ground and stadium for residents in 1969 when Myanmar hosted the fifth Southeast Asian Peninsular Games.

The venue later held soccer matches between wards, townships, and schools in Yangon, as well as other sporting competitions and annual festivals.

The lawmaker claimed that the township had brought up seven elite national soccer athletes and one weightlifter in the past.

He said the military grabbed the stadium after security operations took the venue during the 1988 pro-democracy uprising against the then authoritarian rulers. It then leased the grounds to the Yangon United soccer club.

“A stadium is necessary for Hlaing. I would like to ask [the military] to give us other unused land in the township in order to build another stadium,” lawmaker U Aung Kyaw Kyaw Oo said.

The deputy defense minister said the military would take this into consideration if there were a request from the Ministry of Health and Sports for the unused plot in line with land requirements.

He added that there are only 13 township stadiums in Yangon’s 45 townships.

U Aung Kyaw Kyaw Oo told The Irrawaddy that he would ask the Ministry of Health and Sports to obtain land for a stadium for the township.

“It is no surprise that the military won’t return it. I expected that. But there is a large area of land that they own in our township that has gone unused. I will try to get them to give this as a substitute,” he said.