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The under-pressure developers of a controversial US$30 million real estate project in central Rangoon say work will not stop.
Thukar Yadanar is the sole investor in Dagon City 2, which is set to be located in the foreground of the historic Shwedagon Pagoda.
For the past two weeks, a campaign led by conservative monk group the Association for Protection of Race and Religion, commonly referred to as the Ma-Ba-Tha, has agitated for its suspension, on grounds that building work could damage the ancient temple’s foundations.
Now, the monks say that have had a promise from senior government officials that the project will be halted within the next two weeks.
Thukar Yadanar maintain that they have the government’s backing to continue.
Thaung Htike Min, the construction firm’s director, said the company had to bid high to win the contract and questioned what the government could do to compensate the company if the project were scrapped.
“As of now, we have not been directly informed about any suspension, which is being spoken about on social media and reported by news journals,” he said. “We have all the paperwork, approval from the municipality and the regional government, and recommendations received by the Myanmar Investment Commission from 10 government ministries and also the Attorney General’s Office.
“Therefore we are implementing this project with their approval. We would like to know what the government plans to do about the money we have already spent and the satisfaction of our customers who have already bought property in advance as they trusted us.”
Thaung Htike Min added that the project will not include high rises nor utilise underground water that could affect the landscape and foundations of the nearby historic Shwedagon Pagoda.
Despite that, the Ma-Ba-Tha are counting on the support of Rangoon Division’s Security and Border Affairs Minister, Col. Tin Win and Regional Military Commander Maj-Gen Tun Tun Naung to have the project scuppered. The group says the two senior officials pledged top suspend the project ‘within the next 15 days’ in talks held on the sidelines of the Ma-Ba-Tha‘s 2nd annual conference held on Saturday.
Ashin Wirathu, a Ma-Ba-Tha monk notorious for religious conservatism and anti-Muslim hate speech, said that his campaigners would stand down during that 15-day period, but warned of the resumption of protest activities should the deadline pass.
“Firstly, we will give them 15 days but if our demands are not met or there is no guarantee for them to be fulfilled within the time, we will continue our activities including collecting signatures on a petition, and the distribution of leaflets and stickers. If the project resumes despite these actions, we will, in accordance with our six point plan, organise nationwide public rallies to strongly object the plan.”
Recently, the Rangoon Division parliament rejected an emergency proposal by MP Nyo Nyo Thin to reconsider the project.
Earlier this month, DVB reported that a proposal was to be presented to parliament urging a halt to a sister project, Dagon City 1, which is also located nearby the legendary pagoda.
If passed, the motion would call on the government to halt the development which is slated to include branded retail zones, international standard offices, a five-star hotel and luxury apartments. The US$300 million mega-project is being financed by Marga Landmark, a joint-venture of companies from Hong Kong, South Korea and the UK, and is situated on 22 acres of prime real estate – nestled between Shwedagon and Kandawgyi Lake.