Highlight text to annotate itX
In 2005, the military junta that governed Myanmar became an international joke when
they decided to move the capital from Yangon to a newly created city, named Nyapyidaw.
They spent over 3 billion USD to build this royal prison where everything looks glamorous
but there are nearly no people, making it a ghost town. There is only one local market,
two shopping malls and two movie theaters. Except for the downtown area, the rest of
the city is nearly empty. To opposition parties, this new capital was the military government’s
own royal prison.
The road leading up to the congressional building has more than 20 lanes, which makes it look
like a landing strip. The government also built numerous defensive emplacements around
the presidential compound. In an interview with Apple Daily Hong Kong, a local policeman
named James expressed his personal longing to move back to Yangon, simply because life
in the new capital is way too boring. Scholars believe that it was the military government’s
plan to reestablish its authority by moving the capital from prosperous Yangon to the
heavily guarded Nyapyidaw. Most of the buildings are built like castles and there is even a
city moat built around the entire administrative district.
Unlike the new capital, most antique buildings in the old capital Yangon are preserved due
to the nation’s long stagnant economy. According to Moe Moe Lwin, the Director of Yangon Heritage
Trust, Myanmar hasn’t had much opportunity to develop in the past few decades, meaning
antique buildings have been preserved. While modernization is a common goal for many global
cities, it usually comes at the cost of wide swaths of architectural heritage. Lwin says
that Hong Kong is a good example of a city with very few antique buildings remaining
because of rapid modernization.