Rangoon (Mizzima) – Burmese Industry Minister Soe Thein says the government will transform the historic Ministers’ Office building where National Hero General Aung San and other Burmese martyrs were assassinated into a museum; the building will not be leased to be used as a hotel.
“We will not rent it to anybody,” he said. “We will convert it into a museum, and we will open souvenir shops and food shops. So when foreigners visit there, our country can get foreign income,” Minister Soe Thein told local media in Naypyitaw on Tuesday.
A few days ago, Myanmar Tourism Board (MTB) chairman Khin Shwe said MTB would help anyone who wants to rent the building to be transformed into a a hotel.
The building on Bo Aung Kyaw Road in Kyauktada Township in Rangoon was built by the British in 1890 as an administrative office of the secretary-general of the government’s ministerial department.
The building was the location where Burmese National hero General Aung San and his cabinet members were assassinated shortly before independence by a rival political group led by Burmese politician U Saw and the location in which the first Burmese flag was hoisted to mark Burma’s independence from the British.
“There are some ancient buildings that could be suitable to be used as hotels. We will rent them to be used as hotels. Like big castles in Germany. The castles are being used as hotels. A palace in Russia is transformed into a museum too,” Minister Soe Thein said.
After word got around that the 120-year-old Ministers’ Office building would be rented out, various political parties and artists objected to the idea through the foreign media.
The Attorney-General Office building on Pansodan Road will also be conserved, Soe Thein said.
There are 189 old buildings in the Rangoon area, according to local officials.
In early 2010, the former junta privatized more than 110 state-owned businesses including clothing businesses, food businesses, household appliance factories, electrical equipment factories, cinemas and other state-owned buildings. In 2009, a total of 260 state-owned businesses, buildings and land were privatized, according to the Myanmar Privatization Commission.
The Minster’s Office holds a special place in the hearts of the Burmese public. In December 1938, student leader Aung Kyaw was beaten to death in front of the Ministers’ Office building by British government police in a student anti-colonial demonstration, in addition to the location of the assassination of General Aung San and his cabinet members.
“We need to talk about these historic buildings to new generations. The Ministry of Culture should shoulder the responsibility to preserve the historic buildings,” said Han Shwe, the spokesman of the National Unity Party.