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Newspaper of the Naypyidaw Journal: The silence envelops Myanmar's capital
NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar - The street that leads to Myanmar's huge parliament house is 20 tracks across, well placed for army parades, but incredibly empty. Half an hour's car ride away, on the manicure alleys of this town, is another huge structure still under construction: a army monument that will be used as a cabinet by the country's commanding officers and regiments.
Opposite is a army school, further down are ranks of huts and a huge cemetery. 6 years after Myanmar dedicated Naypyidaw (pronounced nay-pee-DAW) as the new capitol, the town has remained strict and often inanimate, a pricey memorial to warlords who no longer reign, since the March regime passed control to the country's first civil regime in almost 50 years.
An attempt was made to make the town more humane. However, on most nights there is a gravelly stillness on Naypyidaw. Thant Myint-U, a Myanmar historicist, said the land once known as Burma has a long history of constructing new capital cities. Mandalay, the biggest town in the north of the land, was erected by King Mindon in the end of the 1850' s; his minders and courtly men were fighting against the "tooth and nail" scheme, Thant Myint-U said.
For Myanmar, one of the impoverished Asian nations, the task of constructing a new town in the middle of the Sugarcane and Ricefields was a major one. But Sean Turnell, a senior economist on Burma's economic development, has estimated it at $3-4 billion. One part of that was money spent in currency, Mr Turnell said, because troops were used for construction work, and various trade conglomerates did much of the work against intergovernmental franchises, primarily lumberjack franchises to large areas of clean forests in other parts of the land.
Naypyidaw's magnificent boulevard, fringed by bushes and blossoms, stands in stark contrasts to the livelihoods of the remainder of the state. Myanmar's decade-long insulation and maladministration under armed forces have made it much impoverished than its vibrant neighbours to the west and south. Colonels and their partners got wealthy, built villas and imported chic automobiles, but the remainder of the people failed to see the recovery that contributed to the creation of a centre layer in China, Thailand and Malaysia.
It is spacious and regulated, with evenly arranged lantern posts, cleared footpaths and green isles. It is unaffordable even for Myanmar. $3.75 a dish of roasted brown ice in a local food court, a full day's pay for a mason in town. Nearly all businesses that take place in Naypyidaw are connected with the state.
An executive in a hospitality here said that companies and non-profit groups are being urged to meet in Naypyidaw instead of Yangon, the nation's and former capitol. In fact, the Chinese authorities have even held bi-annual bi-annual sales in Naypyidaw for the mining of myanmar's North Myanmar genes, jades and jewels in rivalry to Yangon.