Oct 21, 2011

Myanmar minister says historic gov’t buildings might make nice hotels

British-era buildings as hotels? Khin Shwe, the chairman of the Myanmar Tourism Board (MTB), says Myanmar needs more hotels and old Colonial-era government buildings might make good conversion projects for businessmen.

As an example, he cited the 120-year-old historic Ministers’ Office building (where National Hero General Aung San and other Myanmar martyrs were assassinated) as a possible hotel conversion.

The building on Bo Aung Kyaw Road in Kyauktada Township in Yangon was built by the British in 1890 as an administrative office of the secretary-general of the government’s ministerial department.

“I don’t mean that we’ll do it now,” said Khin Shwe. “I mean people who are interested can submit proposals.” He said there are many older state-owned buildings that businessmen could look at in terms of conversions into hotels or office buildings.

The Ministers’ Office building was in use until 2009. He also cited the military headquarters building on Alanpya Pagoda Road in Dagon Township as the site of a possible hotel conversion.

Businessmen who are interested in such projects should submit proposals through the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism, he said.

“Anyone who’s interested can submit a proposal. MTB will help. But MTB is not authorized to make a decision. Nobody can guarantee that the government will approve proposals or not,” Khin Shwe said.

However, several political parties said they would object to any proposals to rent or transform historic buildings like the former Ministers’ Office building.

“We don’t have any intention of destroying the dignity [of the buildings], so we don’t want others to alter them. Whatever the idea is, we will object,” National Democratic Force leader Khin Maung Swe told Mizzima.

In December 1938, student leader Aung Kyaw was beaten death in front of the Ministers’ Office building by British government police in a student anti-colonial demonstration. The building was the location where Myanmar National hero General Aung San and his cabinet members were assassinated by a rival political group led by politician U Saw. The building was also the location in which the first Myanmar flag was hoisted to mark Myanmar’s independence from the British.

“We need to talk about these historic buildings to new generations. The Ministry of Culture should shoulder the responsibility to preserve the historic buildings,” said Han Shwe, the spokesman of the National Unity Party.

In early 2010, the former government privatized more than 110 state-owned businesses including clothing businesses, food businesses, household appliance factories, electrical equipment factories, cinemas and other state-owned buildings. In 2009, a total of 260 state-owned businesses, buildings and land were privatized.

Source: Mizzima