The Irrawaddy

Mon State Govt to Protect Heritage Buildings in Mawlamyine  

The First Baptist Church of Mawlamyine. (Photo: Tin Htet Paing / The Irrawaddy)

MAWLAMYINE, Mon State — In its efforts to conserve historic and colonial-era buildings in Mon State, the state government is working to form a conservation group by the end of this year modeled on the Yangon Heritage Trust, according to state lawmaker Daw Khaing Khaing Lei.

At the request of Mon State chief minister Dr. Aye Zan, officials of Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT)—an advocacy group founded in 2012 for heritage protection in Yangon—inspected heritage buildings in state capital Mawlamyine on Tuesday, she said.

“Our chief minister wants a group like YHT in Mon State to conserve heritage buildings in Mawlamyine. He has asked for technical assistance from YHT,” said Daw Khaing Khaing Lei.

The chief minister envisions a conservation group consisting of officials of concerned departments, experts and technicians, she added.

On Tuesday, officials of YHT, accompanied by officials of state government and archaeologists observed a 19th Century Buddhist monastery financed by ethnic Mon shipping tycoon U Na Ouk, the 120-year-old Yadana Bon Myint Monastery built by King Mindon’s consort Sein Tone, and the residence and tomb of the fourth daughter of King Thibaw, the last monarch of Myanmar.

Other heritage sites include the first Baptist Church in Mawlamyine constructed in 1827 by Adoniram Judson, an American missionary who spent nearly 40 years in Myanmar in the early 19th Century, the forestry office of the Bombay Burma Co built in 1897, a cannon built in 1827 featuring the emblem of British King Edward, and a watchtower built in 1912.

“There are a lot of Pyu, Myanmar and Mon artifacts here. Some of the colonial-era buildings are even older than those in Yangon. At U Na Ouk monastery, you can observe carvings, relief-work and sculptures in one place,” said Daw Khaing Khaing Lei.

At a meeting between Mon state ministers and YHT officials it was agreed the trust will submit recommendations to Mon State government by the end to this month, said its director Daw Moe Moe Lwin.

“We’ll decide where we should start from. As it is the local people who know their town best, they should also participate in the process. We’ll submit a report to Mon State government about conservation plans,” said Daw Moe Moe Lwin.

Mawlamyine was the seat of power while Lower Myanmar was under colonial rule, and therefore has a lot of colonial-era heritage buildings.

According to the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, there are more than 100 heritage buildings in need of conservation in Mon State.