Ministers' Building

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Yangon Secretariat
Native name ဝန်ကြီးများရုံး
Secretariat Building, Yangon.jpg
The Secretariat building in the early 1900s. Over the course of the building's later life the complex's grand cupola and 10 of 18 ornate towers on its left and right wings were demolished.
Location Botataung, Yangon, Yangon Region, Myanmar
Coordinates 16°46′32″N 96°9′57″E / 16.77556°N 96.16583°E / 16.77556; 96.16583Coordinates: 16°46′32″N 96°9′57″E / 16.77556°N 96.16583°E / 16.77556; 96.16583
Built 1905
Designated 1996
Ministers' Building is located in Myanmar
Ministers' Building
Location of Yangon Secretariat in Myanmar
Building in 2016

The Ministers' Building (Burmese: ဝန်ကြီးများရုံး; also called the Ministers' Office; formerly The Secretariat or Secretariat Building) was the home and administrative seat of British Burma, in downtown Yangon, Burma and is the spot where Aung San and six cabinet ministers were assassinated.

Location[edit]

The building is situated on 6.5 hectares and takes up an entire city block with Anawrahta Road to the north, Theinbyu Road to the east, Maha Bandoola Road to the south and Bo Aung Kyaw Street to the west. It is about one kilometer South East of Yangon Central Railway Station and 600 meters East of the Sule Pagoda.[1][2][3]

Construction[edit]

The Victorian-style building is made from red and yellow brick and constructed in a U-shape. Construction began in the late 1800s.[4] The central building was completed in 1902, while the complex's eastern and western wings were finished in 1905, at the cost of 2.5 million kyats.[5] Until 1972, the complex was called the Government Secretariat.[5]

The assassination of Bogyoke Aung San[edit]

This building is where General Aung San, the father of modern Myanmar, spent his working days. On 19 July 1947, during a meeting of the Executive Council at the Ministers Building, Aung San and six cabinet ministers were assassinated by a gang of armed paramilitaries. They had been sent by the former Prime Minister U Saw. This day is now commemorated as Burmese Martyrs' Day. The building is currently on the Yangon City Heritage List and completely abandoned.

Restoration[edit]

Two of the four towers on the corner buildings as well as the central dome collapsed during an earthquake in the 1930s.[6] The building has been vacant since the government was moved to the new capital Naypyidaw. The government debated whether to restore it and turn it into a hotel or museum. In 2011, amid national discussions on converting Yangon's colonial-era buildings to attract tourism, plans were made to convert the Ministers' Building into a museum, not a hotel.[7]

In February 2012, seven local companies and three foreign companies submitted a proposal to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) to convert the Ministers' Building into a Martyrs' Museum, culture aspect and theme park.[8] Anawmar Art Group will operate the museum under the guidance of historians, curators and the Yangon Heritage Trust.[9] The room where the assassination had taken place had been used as a Buddhist shrine until 2016.[10]

Availability to public[edit]

Currently, the building is closed to the public. However, each year on the anniversary of his death, General Aung San’s former office and the room where he and his cabinet were gunned down are open to the public.[11] On July 19, 2017, the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of Martyrs' Day. For the first time since the building closed, the Yangon Parliament House, located within the Secretariat compound and the Cabinet Meeting Room, was opened to the public.[12] The building saw 42,101 Myanmar citizens and 205 foreigners come to honor their fallen heroes. The national museum brought in original furniture and artifacts from the time of assassination that had been in the room. Articles included were labeled chairs that seated the fallen martyrs, fountain pens, pencils, keys, wristwatches, blankets, lighters, cigarette boxes, money and signed notes that they used daily. Ko Htwe, a bodyguard who was also assassinated, was also remembered with a marker of where his body fell after being shot.[13]

Visit by U.S. President Obama[edit]

In November, 2014, the United States President Barack Obama visited the building to honor the fallen. While on his tour of the building, Obama offered assistance with urban development and heritage protection. The president was accompanied Dr. Thant Myint-U, the Chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust.[14]

Wolfgang Laib Exhibit[edit]

Parts of the southeast wing of the building opened to the public on January 14 to February 4, 2017 for the art exhibit Where the Land and Water End by the German artist Wolfgang Laib. For the exhibit, Laib created one of his pollen installations at the base of the double spiral staircase but due to the conditions of the space it was only left up for the first two days of the exhibit. Also on display was one of his famous milkstones and a fleet of brass ships surrounded by rice. [15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Burma Under British Rule By Joseph Dautremer, p. 151
  2. ^ "Secretariat Buildings or Ministers' Building". Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  3. ^ Htar Htar Khin (31 October 2011). "Tourism official spurs old buildings debate". Myanmar Times. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Yangonite: Minister's Building". Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Chan Myae Thu; Aung Khin (2011). "Myanmar to lease colonial-era Ministers' Office in Yangon for business purpose". Eleven News. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  6. ^ "Colonial era buildings". Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  7. ^ Min Thet (28 October 2011). "Ministers' Office building will not be transformed into a hotel". Mizzima News. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "ဝန်ကြီးဌာန ရုံးဟောင်းများ၊ မြေကွက်များတွင် ဟိုတယ်နှင့် ပြတိုက်ပြုလုပ်ရန် နိုင်ငံခြား ကုမ္ပဏီသုံးခုနှင့် ပြည်တွင်း ကုမ္ပဏီခုနစ်ခုတို့ MIC သို့ အဆိုပြုလွှာတင်ထား". Weekly Eleven News (in Burmese). 1 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Secretariat building and meeting hall to be opened on 70th Martyrs' Day". The Global New Light of Myanmar. 10 June 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "70th Martyrs' Day observed". The Global New Light of Myanmar. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  11. ^ "Ministers' Building, home to the Burmese Martyrs". Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  12. ^ "New areas of the Secretariat open on 70th Martyrs' Day". Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  13. ^ "70th Martyrs' Day draws huge crowds to Secretariat". Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  14. ^ "US President visits historic birthplace of Myanmar's independence". Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  15. ^ "'Where the Land and Water End' Exhibition". The Irrawaddy. 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  16. ^ "Yangon's Secretariat re-opens for art exhibit". The Myanmar Times. Retrieved 2018-03-28.