There is another case after Yayku. Ye Htut is responsible to clarify

Man Thu Shein
A scene of huge construction site in Yangon

The Deputy Minister of Information Pike Htwe explained to the Union Parliament on May 27 about the tender of the old YaykuBroadcast Station.

The Union Minister of Information Ye Htutposted the explanation of the deputy minister on his Facebook. What is more, he added additional explanation about the issue. Then, we can see that Ye Htut and Pike Htwe are the most responsible persons for the Old YaykuBroadcast Station tender issue.  

Firstly, it was difficult to analyse who is the most responsible for the Yayku tender issue. Now it is obvious that Ye Htut and Pike Htwe took responsibility for ShweThanLwin regarding with Yayku. Investigation has to be done for the case.

In fact, when the bribery cases are revealed by the media in the world, investigations are followed. What shall be done in Myanmar now? Ye Htut might know better than others since he usually points the international standards regarding with the fourth estate.

To be honest,Ye Htut and I have communicated by letters previously and I have written about him. This article is directly referred to him.

Just admit that the country faces defects

Dear minister, when the deputy minister Pike Htwe explained about the case, he did not explain exactly that the country would face defects due to the rules involved in the tender.

One of my close business acquaintances told me about his offer regarding with the Yayku tender as follow.

On 30 acres earmarked for the ministry, he will invest Ks. 50 B constructing 50,000people-hold-theatre and other media developing centers. He will construct the new Broadcast station as the ministers’ demanded. What is more, Ks. 200 B valued housing projects and business centers will be built. Then, the surrounding townships like South Okkalapa, North Okkalapa and North Dagon will be developed. Additionally, flyover will be constructed at Gadamar Junction to solve the traffic and flyover on the way to North Dagon for better transportation will also be constructed.  

That is just the offers from one businessman. It is obvious that there will be many interests the country would get if the tender rules do not limit as media or broadcasting experiences and construction experience or giving special privileges. Then, it would happen what the ministers demanded.

Please imagine how much the country will gain if so. At least Ks. 350 B including buildings that the ministers demanded will be belongs to the country. But for now, the country will gain only Ks. 50 B as tender rules are stated.

Therefore, the ministers need to confess that the country will defect Ks. 300 B in accordance with the tender. What is more, the state-owned media should declare about the defects and disadvantages.

This issue must be clarified to the public whether it is prearranged or not. If the issue is not clarified during the current government, it must be probed in the next government in line with the law. Then, Ye Htut must be accountable to explain and must take responsibility if there is any illicit arrangement.

Please show on public view transparently all tenders, leases, privatization agreements, and other agreements by the Industrial Ministry, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, and ten other ministries in this administration.

Can you guarantee, minister Ye Htut?

The deputy minister Pike Htwe explained thoroughly about the tender rule No. 13 and 14 to the parliament.

Rule No. 13 said “Do not transfer houses, stalls, offices and land to others.” Therefore, the tender winner will earn the income generated from the businesses located on the land.

Rule No. 4 said, “All buildings and centers located in the project areas must be related to the media industry.” Therefore, all buildings located in the project area cannot be sold to others like other housing projects, Pike Htwe explained.

He explained in detail only rule No. 13 and 14 to the parliament. He seems to mean that the tender winner must obey these two rules. What is more, he defended that ShweThanLwin has not bought the tender form yet. However, it looks like protecting ShweThanLwin since the deadline for tender application is not been yet and it highlighted the connection between Information Ministry and Shwe Than Lwin.

Regarding with Shwe Than Lwin, the Information Ministry has to explain to the public why Sky Net was allowed income tax exemption for three years; how much it paid the commercial tax to the country within those three years even if the income tax was exempted; and why the ministry did not take any action against when it transmitted from its channel offering cigarettes by the Sky Net water splashing pavilions during Thingyan?

ShweThanLwin is permitted to run alcohol, beverage and cigarette production and distribution. What is more, it gets hundreds of acres of land at the base of KyiteHteeYoo Mountain, and over 1300 acres of land in Ywarngan Townships in Shan State, right to create Sittaung Paper Factory Plot as industrial zone, and right to construct infrastructure like roads and bridges. What is more, it has right to run businesses on the state-owned lands. Can ShweThanLwin prove its all investments and incomes are taxed and legal money? As far as I know, it is listed only in the latest top 1000 tax payers list. We did not see it in previous years’ top tax payer lists. Only two or three companies under ShweThanLwin corporations of more than 20 Specific Business Unit might be involved in the list.  

There are many issues regarding with Shwe Than Lwin have to be solved not only in the current administration but also in the next government. Can the minister Ye Htut guarantee about that?

Based on the explanation by the deputy minister Pike Htwe to the parliament, can the minister Ye Htut be sure if the tender winner obeys the tender rules for media development after winning the tender? Are you sure the he will not take advantages running other businesses under the title of media projects?

Let me give the best example here. Take the example the agreement of Myakyunthar rest and relaxation area here which was re-signed under the current administration. The tender winner did not obey the rules involved in the agreement and now the project is running for business purpose instead of public domain land. The union minister Ye Htut is responsible to explain for this issue too since he is the spokesperson of the president and he answered frequently on behalf of the other ministries.

History of Myakyunthar

It was started implementing as a recreation zone in 1990. Lately, the income generation is not profitable and it was returned to the military.

Then, the military transferred it to Yangon City Development Committee in 2010 and then, transferred again to private businessmen to promote it as rest and recreation area. It was under former dictatorship when Aung Thein Lin was a Mayor.

The agreement at that time was the businessperson has to run projects relating with rest and relaxation for the public for 30 years. The former dictatorship has usually made 30 years agreement.

The businessmen opened water golf, vane and restaurants for the public recreation.

In April 2013, the new quasi-civilian government re-made the new agreement modifying that 60 years instead of 30 years. Sixty years means letting the businessmen doing business for the whole life.  

Worst of all, right to construct building like shopping centers which are nothing to do with rest and relaxation are legally involved in the agreement.

When the new agreement was signed, it wasn’t shown on public although it was for public rest and relaxation.

Now, business buildings are being constructed in Myakyunthar compound. Public can know how much it violating the rules and how much the country defects through the Facebook of Eleven Media Group. The EMG has posted the copy of new agreement of Myakyunthar. The worst factor is that they are running businesses under the title of “for the public” giving very low prices. It is the worst defect for both the public and the country.

What’s happening at Myakyunthar?

If one were to head inside Myakyunthar, they will find that it has transformed from a place where the public can come for rest and recreation to a place suffering from the damages of shopping centers constructions.

As soon as you enter, from where the water slide is, the whole portion of the land has plants rooted out, foundations has been solidly laid, racing to build multi-story buildings, big drains that are around 18 to 20 carved out; everything is being done as if the land is their private property.

When I say the foundations have been laid, I mean that they have set the foundation necessary to construct buildings with many floors. A three and a half story building has already been completed.

When I say that the big drains have been made, I mean huge drains that have been dug out from the soil by sending a backhoe in. It is in so deep that if you look at it from the road, you cannot even see the roof of the backhoe. It is wide as well. At some areas, they excavate up to 18 to 20 feet.

The area at the front of Myakyunthar, the place adjacent to the construction and the usual parking space and also the morning exercise grounds for the public has been turned into a messy work zone with bricks, nails, wood, other construction materials as well as workers bending iron and doing woodwork as if they own the land.

In addition to and perhaps the ugliest sight of all is the fact that they go into waters at the bank of Inya Lake to build their brick wall fence. After they get their brick wall done, they will dump land into the water within their fence and expand their area of land. To be precise, they are illegally claiming the land at Inya Lake.

The constructions at Myakyunthar are simply not for the rest and recreation of the public but solely for commercial use such as shopping centers, spearheaded by a trio of businessmen.

The very first construction at the forefront of Myakyunthar is by Mandalay Golden Wing Company under another company named Inya Palace Company. Other constructions located further in are from Magic Land Company and another business owner.

The illegal land claiming is being done by all three. These are all verifiable and factual truth happening at Myakyunthar.

To summarize, Myakyunthar is being disfigured from a land owned by the citizens into a plot of land for commercial purposes by having multi-level stories buildings such a shopping centers built.

Biggest breaches of the contract

On 10th of April 2013, Yangon City Municipality Committee and Private Companies announced the edition of the contract regarding renting of land within Myakyunthar Park which had a total of 24 terms.

Within those, I want to point out biggest breaches in contract that actions can be taken against, as far as even to shut down operations.

The paragraph (R) under section 7 for rules to be followed by the tenant explicitly states that “No claiming of extra land space whether in the water or by artificially dumping land into the water. The expansion of land area is disallowed.”

Now, all three undergoing constructions had undeniably and blatantly disregarded the terms and conditions of the contract.

In addition, paragraph (A) under section 7 also states that “The first phase of the construction should be done by 31/3/2015 and the opening ceremony held by 10th of May. Failure to comply with the conditions will result in confiscation of permit and voiding of the contract.”

Now is 27th of May 2015. Since none of them are finished, actions can be taken against them but nothing has been done so far.

In section 2 of the contract, it is stated that “The objective is to upgrade Myakyunthar Park into an international standard natural park and a recreation center as well as being a relaxation center for the public.”

After all that has been shown, the Municipal allowed the construction of shopping centers that has nothing to do with rest and recreation for the public. The objective of the contract and allowed operations in reality cannot be any more different.

The point is that, in addition to the building of commercial 3 and a half story shopping centers, they are doing so by breaking even more rules.

The loss of the Nation

The cost and the period of the land in the lease contract for Myakyunthar under the new government in 2013 cost the nation billions of dollars.

One acre of land was rented for approximately Ks 10 lakhs (1,000) USD per month with a lease period of 60 years.

The current going price for Myakyunthar, even if sold to you against your will, goes roughly around Ks 4 lakhs (400 dollars) per square feet. Since the total land area is 44.516 acres, the total worth can be calculated to Ks 800 billion (80 million dollars). This is calculated with the lowest possible costs.

Since the arrangement is that one acre only goes for 10 lakhs for a duration of 60 years, the nation will only earn Ks 32 billion (3.2 million) in total. Even if the rent was increased 10% per year, our nation cannot earn over Ks 50 billion (5 million). Also, allowing 60 years of lease might as well be for life.

I think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how much our country lost by giving away something valued nearly at Ks 800 billion (80 million dollars) at Ks 50 billion (5 million) to businessmen.

If the reasoning behind the low prices is because Myakyunthar is supposed to only be a natural park for rest and recreation, then the building of shopping centers should not be allowed but what the trio of businessmen are doing is just the opposite, paying the price of developing a natural park but building profitable, commercial shopping centers.

If the land at Myakyunthar were to be for commercial use, it is impossible to lease with these rates. At the very least, 1 acre will go for Ks 100 lakhs (100,000 dollars). Just look at the Vietnamese invested ‘Hoang AnhGia Lai” right opposite Myakyunthar which they had to pay, at minimum, 20 dollars per square feet.

It needs to be thoroughly investigated how much corruption occurred between the Municipal and related companies on the cost of the rent and the editing of the original contract.

Who is now operating at Myakyunthar?

 After the contract was completed and Myakyunthar was separated amongst many companies such as Magic Land, MGS, GSB, Inya Palace, Nay La Pwint, Ruji, Max Myanmar and Eden Group.

An authority from Eden Group has openly announced that they were permitted to only work constructional activities with the objective of building a rest and recreation center for the public but not for profit businesses such as shopping centers. If the public decided that group is only doing commercial and for profits construction, the group is willing to let their allowed portion of Myakyunthar to be taken back by the government.

Likewise, an authority of Max Myanmar, when asked, said that their legally allowed portion of the contract is the children’s playground, restaurants, resting rooms similar to showrooms and other works relating to rest and relaxation only. They denied all claims of constructing for profit and commercial buildings such as shopping centers and all works not related to the rest and recreation of the citizens.

He also said that Max Myanmar Company is working only on Green Zone project for public relaxation in Myakyunthar and if the people see any misconducts and if the public desire, they will renounce the permission.

Currently, constructions of high-rise buildings, complete with shopping centers, were located in the parts which were given Inya Palace Company and Magic Land Companies.Inya Palace Company is connected to Mandalay Golden Wing (MGW) U Aung Win. MGW has been allowed to work on several construction projects.

Diamond Inya Palace Condominium, Diamond Parami Business Center Project on Parami road, 27-floored Garden Kandawgyi Tower on Pho Sein Street, and another 21-floored tower project, Yankin Condominium Project on Saya San road, Bahan Service Apartment high-rise project near NgahtetGyi pagoda, MGW Inter-Continental Hotel in Mandalay, MGW INDIGO Resort (Bagan) near Bu stupa in Bagan were the projects MGW has been working on.

Even though MGW had permissions to work on many projects with huge capital, it did not appear on latest top 1,000 taxpayer list.

Another company building business buildings in Myakyunthar, Dr. Kyaw Win’s Magic Land Company, also was not included in the list. Magic Land Dr. Kyaw Win is linked to Game City businesses. Thirteen acres of land from Myakyunthar Park was given to Magic Land and the part the company got was the best and biggest plot. My point is, they only took advantages but did not reach to top taxpayer list.

Questions for YCDC

Don’tYCDC know it is not a just filling a pit but instead landfilling parts of the Inya Lake to expend their area? Or did they allow it knowingly? Why are no action taken against them? The photo evidences cannot be denied.

What is more, the regulation in the contract clearly stated the permission will be revoked if the projects are not completed by 31 March, 2015. Why are they allowed to continue?

Even though the contract was only for thirty years when it was signed under the previous government, why was it extended to sixty years under the current government? By whose order was it extended?

The intention of the contracted stated the plot was given for public amusement, but why were the companies allowed to build business buildings not related to public amusement such as shopping centers?

Were the permission and signing of the contract in such manner presented to the Yangon Regional Parliament? Were they presented to Union Government? To the PyidaungsuHluttaw (Union Parliament)? To Myanmar Investment Commission? And lastly, was it submitted to the President beforehand?

If the contracted was given only by an agreement on both sides and if the companies are allowed to continue even though there are violations to the contract and if a blind eye is turned without any actions, it can only mean one thing: corruption is involved.

If that is the matter, not only Myakyunthar but all of the contracts on public parks given to private companies must be publicized. If not, people will consider corruption is prevailing in the cases and national budget was misused. Does the president know these kinds of nepotism exist?

I remember the president’s promises and speeches

After the issues of Yayku broadcast station tender and Myakyunthar arose, I remember the promises and speeches of President Thein Sein.

U Ye Htut, please answer how different is the current situation from the president’s speeches.

In his first public speech, President Thein Sein said that he will prevent the country’s economy being monopolized by cronies.

He said it on first parliamentarian session on March 30, 2011.

“We expect a market economy where the government has limited regulation. The regulation does not mean we are controlling the economic freedom. We will be regulating the economy in order to prevent capitalists, wealthy businesspeople and cronies from monopolizing the economy,” he said.

Moreover, on 31 May, 2011, during the oath-taking ceremony held in PyidaungsuHluttaw (Union Parliament) building, the President said ‘it is important to be free from corruption to be a clean government and not to give advantages to acquaintances or not to create opportunities for relatives’.

“Our government must be an example of ‘Good Governance’. We must be a ‘Clean Government’. To become a good governance, proper management and administration are needed. We must have good intentions toward the people, protect the people’s interest and serve the public. To be a clean government, we must be free from corruption. Bribery can undermine the dignity of the country and the people. Therefore, it is necessary to manage ourselves or our departments to be clean of bribery. It is very important not to abuse the authority entrusted by the country for the advantages of the acquaintances or to create opportunities for relatives. We will be recorded as ‘Clean Government’ only if we can avoid them.” said the president in his inauguration speech.

Even though the president said so, the events in the four years of the government tenure raised questions.

Investigate and take actions

Look at the Yayku broadcast station tender case.

Which government has helped a private media business under ‘Media Development’ by losing 300 million USD from national budget?

In this Myakyunthar public park case, the loss of national budget in 60 years will be no less than 300 million USD. Nepotism economy is thriving. Corruption is spreading and becoming out of control. The situations lead to inflation and economic instabilities which in turn cause public economic crisis.

The poor economy causes from public discontents to political instability. U Ye Htut, the public is worried the blames may be put on the military for the offenses of corrupted officials and cronies.

Therefore, by taking the 50 million citizens as witness, I would like to ask for an investigation into the Yayku broadcast station tender and Myakyunthar Park issues just like in other democratic countries.