Restoration on Siamese King’s Tomb Stopped for Further Investigation

By Zarni Mann 2 June 2016

MANDALAY — The Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) instructed a team carrying out restorations on Siamese King Uthumphon’s tomb to stop working until a further investigation could be carried out on the remains held inside.

Ye Mon, chairman of an MCDC subcommittee tasked with the investigation, said in a meeting with the team that the source of the remains discovered in the tomb has become a debate among historians.

“There is little proof that the ashes and the urn belong to King Uthumphon. Because we need to do a DNA test and other investigations, the work must stop during this process,” said the chairman, adding that the committee needed to ensure that the restoration was appropriate and that it would not affect Thai-Burma relations.

Win Maung, an architect leading the restoration, said the team was working to preserve the original structure and that the repairs would not affect country relations as the Thai Royal Treasury had funded the project. He added that the team had been informed of the DNA testing, but had been given no further details as to a time frame or who would conduct the costly test.

Win Maung added that they had stopped working as instructed, and would inform Sittagu Sayardaw, an influential abbot who had instructed them to restart renovations. Following pledged donations from the abbot, former chief minister of Mandalay Ye Myint approved the work in March before handing over his duties.

The work on King Uthumphon’s tomb, located near the famed U Bein Bridge in Mandalay Division, began in April after a two-year hiatus. MCDC had stalled the work with the intention of turning the four-acre Linzin Hill area, which houses the tomb, into a park.

The restoration team consists of Burmese and Thai archeologists, historians and experts, and has been provided with an initial budget of 40 million Thai baht (over US$1.1 million) from the Thai Royal Treasury.