March 21, 2014 00:00
By Phatarawadee Phataranawik
Although Myanmar's Culture Ministry and the Mandalay regional government have suspended the excavation of Siamese King Uthomporn's tomb in Linzingon Cemetery in Amarapura, the excavation team, said firmly yesterday that the project would go on whenever
“The Culture Ministry asked us temporarily to stop all projects related to the excavation and we need the cooperation of the governments of the two countries,” Mickey Heart, a veteran Myanmar architect and historian who founded the Yethaphanwint Association of Myanmar-Thai Relationship, said at the office of the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage in Bangkok.
The lack of authority of Thailand’s caretaker government to approve the mega-project and the uncertain political situation may put it on hold for a year.
Thai architect Vichit Chinalai of the YTPP said that at first this project was done on a government-to-government contract. But later the Culture Ministry of Thailand stopped working with the excavation team. Then early this year, the YTPP was established to continue the project.
However, there were arguments on the site. The Thai Culture Ministry recently said it was not sure the site had been proved to be King Uthomporn’s tomb, while the YTPP pointed out that there was a lot of evidence, including a monk bowl believed to belong to the king.
“Our project is to restore and construct the memorial monument and historical park. We recently found new evidence of a dozen Ayutthaya-style Buddha statues near the tomb,” Vichit said.
Heart added: “We also found ancient Thai characters under the Buddha statue and we believe that that location should be the temple.”
Myanmar Eleven reported that the excavation work and the construction resumed in early February but met with objections from some local historians and residents concerned about damage to ancient religious buildings.
“As the excavation is located on a prime location along Taungthaman Lake, the local government wants to develop the park and then a six-star hotel to promote the tourism business,” Heart said.
The project was halted last Friday, one day before the team originally planned to hold a ceremony to enshrine relics in the pagoda.
There was no representative of the Myanmar Culture Ministry joining the press conference. The YTPP’s team said they agreed to hold discussions with the governmental sector to find a solution.
“Both the Thai and Myanmar Culture Ministries should study the project together,” said National Artist of Thailand Sumet Jumsai, an adviser to Crown Property Bureau, which funded the project.