February 27: The sacking in October of Burma’s prime minister and military intelligence chief Gen Khin Nyunt has not only shaken Burma’s ruling military clique, but it has also jeopardized plans to give Rangoon a major facelift before November 2006, when the junta is scheduled to host an Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, leaders summit. By then, Burma will be Asean’s rotating chairman.
Khin Nyunt and his military intelligence network spearheaded the move to build new condominiums and renovate old buildings in the capital, especially along Pyay Road, which leads from Mingaladon airport to downtown. After the general’s arrest, and his intelligence organization disbanded, several new condo projects along the road were aborted in mid-construction.
Diplomatic and business sources in Rangoon say that banks are no longer lending money to the construction companies responsible for the beautification drive, which was considered Khin Nyunt’s pet project. Others say the remaining generals have lost interest in the project-which is seen in the capital as a sign that junta chairman Snr-Gen Than Shwe couldn’t care less about hosting the summit.
The former Yangon City View Hotel, at 8-Mile Junction, which had been taken over by military intelligence, has also been abandoned and is in disrepair. The once imposing multi-story building, located next to the War Office on Pyay Road, now has boarded up windows, peeling paint and crumbling concrete. Security officials apparently feared the building’s top stories could have been used for attacks on the War Office or passing military motorcades.
Several businesses once run by military intelligence have been closed or changed hands. One, the Galaxy Club, a prostitute haunt, was said by a customer to have been taken over by a member of the United Wa State Army, based in Shan State, one of the world’s biggest drug producing and trafficking groups.