Yangon chief brushes off hotel project suit

The fight over the future of one of downtown Yangon’s most iconic colonial-era buildings intensified yesterday amid accusations of lying. The charge came only days after the Myanmar Lawyers’ Network had filed suit, for the third time, to block plans to turn the old Small Claims Court – the former headquarters of the Burma Socialist Programme Party – into a five-star hotel.

On April 3, the network applied to Yangon Region High Court to sue the chief minister for Yangon Region, the Myanmar Investment Commission and Flying Tiger, the development company, over their respective roles in the project.

Network advocate U Kyee Myint said the chief minister had lied when he said he had been instructed to proceed by the Union government, adding that the signing ceremony between the regional government and Flying Tiger had been broadcast on MRTV.

“The chief minister shouldn’t lie, we have too many witnesses. The project can’t start without his permission,” he said.

Chief Minister U Myint Swe told The Myanmar Times yesterday that the Union government had instructed him to issue the tender and had given permission to rent the court building to a private company.

“This has nothing to do with me. The instruction came from the Union government, and the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) issued the tender. I have nothing to fear from this case,” he said.

Advocates U Than Tin, U Kyee Myint and U Ohn Maung have sought to lodge complaints against U Myint Swe, former MIC head U Zeyar Aung and two private Myanmar-owned companies, Flying Tiger and Prime Residence, over the proposed hotel. The high court has not yet responded to their application.

MNL first applied to the high court in November 2013, and again a year later, under section 42 of the Specific Relief Act, but the case was rejected each time with no reason given.

Flying Tiger won a tender in 2012 to turn the building into a five-star hotel. Under the agreement, it will pay US$14.4 million for a 70-year lease, and the Union government will receive 7 percent of the income.

Flying Tiger managing director U Thaung Htike Min said yesterday that his company had commissioned Hong Kong-based Purcell to draft a conservation management plan, and now the renovation plan was complete.

“We’re now repairing the roof of the courthouse; otherwise the building will be destroyed. We’re acting with the approval of the Union government and the regional government, under a tender approved by the MIC. We have nothing to fear from the case,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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