Luxury shopping with Yangon first theme shopping street, offices, seven eight-story towers for condominiums as well as a five-star hotel. Dagon City One is one of the most prestigious real estate projects in Yangon, Myanmar largest metropolis. The nine-hectare mix-used development project is a joint venture between Myanmar and Hong Kong entrepreneurs.
Behind the project is Marga Group, a global syndicate with a focus on real estate development -which owns 70% of the shares- and the Wong Tung Group of Companies, an internationally-renowned architectural firm with expertise in urban design. The total investment is estimated to reach US$300 million with a completion date set for 2019.
Except that the project has drawn criticism from day one. Its sprawling development is in fact located a few steps away from Yangon – and Myanmar- most iconic building: the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The campaign against the project was mounted by Myanmar most influential monks from the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion – better known by its acronym Ma Ba Tha. The nationalist grouping, more famous for its violence and hatred campaign against Muslims living in the country, threw its entire support behind the campaign to halt the projects.
International news agency Reuters reported that the grouping threatened to organise nationwide protests if Dagon City One was to continue. Monks fear that Shwedagon Pagoda would be damaged and desecrated by the nearby commercial development.
The Government finally bowed to the monks demand and announced a week ago to scrap entirely all the projects around the Shwedagon Pagoda. “There were growing concerns among the people, monks, scholars and experts about the dangers of these projects to the Shwedagon Pagoda,” government official Zaw Than Thin said in a statement read out on national television on Tuesday night, indicated Reuters. The government spokesperson indicated that solutions will be found to compensate investors- particularly the Marga Group.
The five property developments had already been suspended temporarily last January for a month to let the Myanmar Investment Commission investigate, following complaints about the height of the construction project.