NUG to put military-owned land in Yangon on auction block

Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) says it will auction off 25 military-owned properties in Yangon to raise money for the benefit of the country’s people.

The NUG, formed in the wake of last year’s coup by members of the ousted government, announced the plan on February 24.

The properties, including two private hospitals owned by coup leader Min Aung Hlaing and his son Aung Pyae Son, are worth a total of around $2.5 billion, the NUG said in a statement.

“We are doing this to seize resources that they confiscated for their own benefit. We will use the proceeds to help their victims,” Tin Htun Naing, the NUG’s minister for planning, finance and investment, told Myanmar Now.

Much of the real estate up for grabs is land previously occupied by military facilities. This includes 10 acres in Yangon’s Yankin Township that formerly housed the armed forces archive and a nearly 30-acre parcel of land in Mayangon Township where the National Defence College was once located.

Together, these two properties alone are valued at well over half a billion dollars, according to the NUG’s estimates. 

“We have expert appraisers who can calculate the value of the land down to the square foot,” said Tin Htun Naing.

One of the largest properties is a 63-acre area near the military’s notorious Ye Kyi Aing interrogation centre in Mingaladon Township, valued at $309 million.

While most of this land will be sold to help pay for the resettlement of villagers whose homes have been destroyed by regime forces, the interrogation centre itself will be used to memorialise junta atrocities, according to Tin Htun Naing.

Some land will also be used to build housing for government employees taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), he added.

The NUG said it also planned to sell the Moe Kaung Treasure Hospital in Yankin Township and the Kan Thar Yar International Specialist Hospital in Hlaing Township. 

The former was opened by junta leader Min Aung Hlaing just last year, while the latter, located on Inya Lake and owned by his son Aung Pyae Son, has been in operation since 2017.

A report released by activist group Justice For Myanmar in May 2020 revealed how military leaders were reaping huge profits from their control of land in Yangon.

One project alone, the $330 million Y-Complex, generates $2 million annually for the military, the group showed. The Japanese-backed luxury real estate development is located on a 3.95-acre plot of military-owned land near Shwedagon Pagoda.

The NUG’s plan to confiscate land from the military was supported by some in principle, but seen as unrealistic in practice.

“I’m not saying they shouldn’t take the land back from the military, but it can wait. The real task at hand is to win the revolution,” said Kyi Myint, a veteran lawyer who was asked for comment on the scheme.

Tin Htun Naing responded by saying that the idea was to find supporters who are prepared to invest in the struggle to end military rule in Myanmar.

“We are inviting those who believe in the revolution to take a certain amount of risk. Entrepreneurs who believe in our cause should be valued more,” he said.

He added that those who win bids on the auctioned properties would only be expected to pay a certain percentage of the full amount until they are able to take ownership.

Zin Yaw, an army captain who defected to the CDM last year, said that the military owns far more land than the general public realises.

“If the NUG can expose these things, it will be a real blow to the generals. They are hurt most when their interests are harmed. I am sure they are quite restless now,” he said.

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