Myanmar Capital MapMap of Myanmar Capital
Myanmar's new capital
In 2005, the Minister of Information, Brigadier General Kyaw San, heralded the new "administrative capital", several years after the completion of its actuality. Thura Shwe Mann went one stage further in 2006 and declared that Naypyidaw would become "the capital of the country according to the new constitution".
But the location of the new capital was so secure and isolated that few seemed to know the size of the company, and even fewer had seen its expansion first-hand. There are not many Myanmar citizens who will speak openly about the actions of their famous oppressive regime, and while confidentiality is nothing new here, it is certainly quite impressing to keep the building of a 7,000 square kilometre capital under lock and key.
The people who have seen the building of this new mega-city, a place like nowhere else in this largely rustic, largely poverty-stricken country, are divided into two groups: those responsible for the funding, design and furnishing of the new capital and those involved in the laying of the tiles. Myanmar's most likely danger of changing regimes is within its boundaries.
A number of minority groups, which together make up about a third of Myanmar's 60 million inhabitants and make up more than half of its territories, are in conflict over everything from the mining and expulsion of raw materials to the quest for sovereignty. Serious threat from these different guerilla alliances, but also from a boiling community uprising, drugs cartels and the municipal democratic movements have directly influenced governance, municipal development and the move to Naypyidaw.
Naypyidaw's right-angled, open passageways and shallow open areas are engineered to contain masses of people and control the intrusion of enemies. 24 hour power is critical to the servicing of an automatic safety device, and segmental division allows the insulation and closure of certain districts. In addition, there is the omnipresent civilian force in the town, and Naypyidaw seems more like an extensive armory camp than a working megacity.
Naypyidaw blogger Siddharth Varadarajan described the capital as "the ultimative assurance against changes of government, a skilful piece of master planing that would vanquish any supposed "colour revolution" - not through armor and floodlights, but through geometrie and map. "Naypyidaw, a string of separate areas spread over several thousand kilometres, has no town centre and therefore no apparent place for demonstration.
If Yangon, home of one fifth of Myanmar's people, were again immobilised by protest, the Naypyidaw administrative centre would be intact.