Rangoon Parliament Dismiss Objections Over Project at Kyaikkasan Grounds

By Bone Myat 8 April 2015

RANGOON — An opposition lawmaker in Rangoon Division parliament has failed to get the legislature to intervene and stop a plan for commercial real estate development at Kyaikkasan sports track, Rangoon’s historic former horseracing track.

During a parliamentary session on Friday, Nyo Nyo Thin, an independent lawmaker from Bahan Township constituency, proposed to parliament that it vote down a plan to develop the Kyaikkasan grounds and its old stands, as she argued that the project had been approved without following transparent government tender procedures.

“The tender for the project was not invited properly or in line with tender policies adopted by the government. It is crystal clear that a group of individuals submitted a separate proposal to do a business project on the pretext of upgrading the Sports Science building,” she said, referring to the proposed project that includes an upgrade of a government building at the site.

Rangoon Division lawmakers showed no support for the objections that she raised in a letter to parliament, which was supported by urban planning expert Kyaw Latt, Lower House member Than Maung and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society.

Rangoon Division Minister for Economics and Planning Than Myint told the assembly that that he could not intervene in the project as the Kyaikkasan grounds fall under the authority of the central government’s Ministry of Sports.

Nyo Nyo Thin said she opposed the planned project after she had learned from a state media report on Jan. 3 that the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry had approved the environmental impact assessment for a real estate development project by a company named Kyaik Ka San Land Ltd.

The firm had been granted the right to develop the approximately 100-acre grounds and the old stands into a commercial business complex in a large-scale development project that includes an upgrade of the existing Sports Science building. Details of how it had obtained government permission for the project remain murky.

A representative of Kyaik Ka San Land company told local publication Weekly Eleven on Feb. 2 that the firm had discussed the project with Rangoon Division Chief Minister Myint Swe, the division parliament speaker and the division’s Minister of Economics and Planning Than Myint.

The approximately 100-acre ground, located in green surroundings in Tamwe Township, was originally built as a horseracing track during the British colonial period. During the rule of Gen. Ne Win, from 1962 to 1988, it served as a public assembly ground where state ceremonies were held.

In 1974, students rising up against Ne Win snatched the coffin with the repatriated body of U Thant, the Burmese UN secretary general, and took him to Kyaikkasan grounds. There they held a wake to honor him because the general had refused to grant U Thant a state funeral.

These days the track, which has fallen into disrepair in past decades of military rule, is a popular sports and recreation area for local residents.