What Country is Yangon inIn which country is Yangon located?
Not Burma's capitol anymore: The Yangon today
There is a Myanmar saying, broadly transliterated, that you go to eat in Myanmar, to Mandalay to talk and to Yangon to show off. Weapon Yangon. At the end of 2005, the army moved its headquarters to Naypyidaw, so the town can no longer even be described as the first address for illegally acquired property.
Today, many of the fracturing and high-rise villas in China's stilts are empty, their occupants are being called to the new capitol, and the government's long lines of cars, once a common nuisance, are now a rarity. Naypyidaw, which lies in the dry plain of northern Burma, has put a heavy burden on the country's financial situation and is expected to be at least USD 4 billion.
In Yangon, where pot streets, power outages and tares from old governments talk of conscious negligence, the effect is nowhere more noticeable. Current army leaders were always at odds with this "foreign" town, which was little more than a town when the British founded it as the capitol of sub-Burma after the Second Anglo-Burmese War in the 1850s.
The town of Naypyidaw is central to the land of Burma's monarch. It is also far from the two major threat to government and, as the general says, the most likely causes of the "disintegration of the Union": alien invasions and national uprisings. Delegates, both electees and appointees - 25 percent of the seating space is reserved for nominees - will gather in a building block in the House of Representatives that is scheduled for completion by the end of May.
This first meeting, which marks the country's democratic resumption after 48 years of junta government, will be another indication of Yangon's downfall. However, because of the city's mistakes in the public eye - its strangeness, its size of inhabitants and its position - it will remain the country's most important area.
Relocation to Naypyidaw has met with little response, both at home and abroad. Goverment workers who are obliged to move have been reluctant to do so, and there are currently few possibilities for nonconstruction companies there. Just a few messages - the Chinese and South Koreans - have gone out to the N, while the United Nations is still spread across Yangon.
At the end of last year, when the UN began looking for a large amount of offices to help with the integration of its agents, there was little debate about the opportunity to move to the new city. Without Naypyidaw, Yangon will remain the center of global commerce. The country's five million inhabitants are the biggest hypermarket and its main harbour, Thilawa, is only 25 kilometers away, as are most of Myanmar's manufacturing areas.
Many of the country's remaining people are in Yangon, and it is still the most pulsating town in Myanmar, the only one that could even distantly be described as world-class. They may be the deception that many in the world are expecting, but the specter of the election has at least compelled the army ruling to rethink its agenda. Now more attention is being paid to reassure the electorate in the run-up to the poll.
In Yangon, the most vulnerable of all cities to riots, one of the major problems is the shortage of power; the country's power supply is only 300 MW per diem, less than half of the country's population. Approximately costing $270 million, the pipelines represent a unique example of the generosity of the Lower Myanmar administration and should be operational in the third trimester of 2010.
Today the town is more of a hinterland stopover (with a short stopover at Shwedagon Pagoda, of course), with more investments in a broader array of accommodations and a revitalization of the city's colonies, it could become a self-contained area. Macroeconomic developments and opportunity are key campaign themes, and the new, mostly civil government's first actions should include comprehensive macroeconomic reform, making the country a more appealing place for both large and small sized investments.
When this happens, Yangon could change from a disintegrating reliquary to the hub of Myanmar's re-integration into the world economic system. The Myanmar Times in Yangon is published by Thomas Kean.