You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Myanmar

  • Hunt starts for massive bell in Myanmar river
    Divers attached to safety ropes have plunged into waters south of Myanmar’s old capital as part of renewed efforts to retrieve a bronze bell that has been lying for centuries at the confluence of three rivers.
  • Planting rice traditionally in Myanmar
    Flooded paddy fields stretch along both sides of the highway leading to Myanmar’s capital where thousands of farmworkers, mostly women, uproot sprouts and then gently tap them on their feet to remove mud from the roots.
  • Kerry stayed at US-blacklisted Myanmar hotel
    YANGON, Myanmar – The U.S. says Secretary of State John Kerry did not break any rules when he stayed in a hotel owned by a tycoon blacklisted because of ties to Myanmar’s former military regime.
Advertisement

UNICEF defends renting from Myanmar general's kin

YANGON, Myanmar – The United Nations children’s agency has defended a decision to pay nearly $90,000 a month for its new office in Myanmar – a three-story house owned by the family of an ex-army general who was slapped with U.S. sanctions during the country’s dictatorship.

UNICEF said in a news release Thursday it carried out an “extensive search,” looking at more than 40 locations, before signing the deal.

Without mentioning the name of Maj. Gen. Nyunt Tin – whose family owns the property – UNICEF said he no longer holds public office and was not currently subject to criminal charges or international sanctions.

Nyunt Tin was one of the most powerful ministers under the former junta regime led by Than Shwe.

Myanmar, which only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule, has implemented sweeping changes since handing power to a nominally civilian government three years ago.

However, former generals, business cronies and druglords tied to the old regime still control many of the country’s most lucrative assets – including property – and continue to benefit financially as foreign investors and aid groups flock to the country.

Min Aung, a real estate agent not connected to the UNICEF deal, said while the price of rent had skyrocketed in part because of short supply, $87,000 a month for a 33,000-square-foot house was the steepest he had heard of in his 17-year career. He has signed several deals of $20,000 a month or higher.

It was not uncommon for former generals, their children or associates to be landlords, he said.

The news, first reported by The Irrawaddy website earlier this week, has sparked public outcry. The former general spent years on a U.S. sanctions list and served as a commander of the Irrawaddy region before being appointed minister of agriculture and irrigation in 1997.

He was fired in 2004 and charged with corruption and abuse of power, and had been placed under house arrest.

Advertisement