Name : Moe Moe Lwin
Position : Director and Vice Chairman of Yangon Heritage Trust
Moe Moe Lwin received a Bachelor in Architecture and a post-grad diploma in Settlement Planning and Design from Rangoon Institute of Technology. She is also a holder of M.Sc in Urban Planning from the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok. She has served as the General Secretary of the Association of Myanmar Architects (AMA) between 2009- 2014 and currently as the Vice President (2). She has practiced architecture soon after graduation and co-founded Living Design architectural firm in 2001 as Partner Architect until 2012 before she joined Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) as Vice Chairman and Director.[paypal]
How did you become a board member of YHT?
When Dr.Thant Myint U first conceptualized to found an organization in order to protect valuable heritage assets of Yangon, he had discussed and received support from government and many others including AMA (the Association of Myanmar Architects). At that time AMA was preparing to publish the book named ’30 Heritage Buildings of Yangon’ and we had shared his vision and been willing to take part. So we helped in organizing the conference that was to launch YHT and laid foundation to start the organization. I joined the team as a board member and later started to work for full time, as both Director and Vice Chairman.
What are your main responsibilities?
My main task is to oversee operation of the Trust. What is the mission of YHT? Our mission is to advocate and develop clear and sustainable policy options regarding protection of urban heritage, engage with government, business and professional societies and local communities, communicate its ideas to the widest possible audience, undertake specific conservation projects, deliver technical knowledge and facilitate research and training.
Where does YHT receive its funding from?
YHT is a non-profit organization that relies on funding from international governments and organizations, and private contributions from individuals both inside and outside Myanmar.
What challenges did YHT face when established and how did YHT meet those challenges?
There were no organizations for urban heritage conservation when we first decided to establish YHT. We started off with a few local staff. It was kind of leaning by doing process. We had very little experience in subject of urban heritage conservation though we possess some technical knowledge and vast local knowledge on the city. So when we launched YHT, we held an international conference and invited experts to exchange their experiences and views on heritage conservation. We worked very closely with YCDC, Regional Government and respective departments to include heritage in the agenda of city management. Although YHT is an NGO, we were given chances to provide our ideas and concerns in YCDC’s procedures for Yangon heritage preservation. We also received support from professional communities and public in raising awareness on urban heritage conservation through news media and other programs.
Recently YHT launched Yangon Heritage Strategy. Can you tell me about it?
It is mainly how Yangon can be a great and modernized city in Asia by taking advantage of its own valuable city heritage. Yangon Heritage Strategy was prepared and written by YHT staff for over a year with financial and expertize assistance from local and international, in the area of urban planning and design, heritage management, financial, and so on. It represents the culmination of four years of experience, works, consultation and advocacy efforts. In this document, we put forward a vision for Yangon, as a city that is unique, livable and major economic and cultural asset for the nation, a strategy to achieve that vision and achievable sets of actions that could be undertaken in short term and longer term.
What are YHT’s current activities?
Currently we are working on distributing Yangon Heritage Strategy to target audience and general public. We will promote the action plans suggested in it and will work with government and other organizations, who show great interest and are willing to offer help, to step up to implementing stage.
YHT has started the blue plaque project in Myanmar. Can you tell me a little bit about it and how many blue plaques have you installed so far?
The blue plaque project was started since the second year of our founding. It is to highlight significant historical buildings and renowned city’s residents who played important roles in political, social and cultural history of the nation. The plaques are written in both Burmese and English and they draw attention to both local and visitors of the city and inform the known and forgotten histories of the city. The Royal Philips Corporation has partnered with us since the project started to honor key sites throughout Yangon by providing funding for historical research, manufacturing, and installation of the plaques. The first plaque was installed in mid-August, 2014 at City Hall. As of now, there are 13 heritage sites that have already been installed blue plaques.
How do you think cultural heritage preservation contributes to the economy of the country?
It is beneficial in economic terms in promoting tourism industry as it attracts international visitors. When people come to Yangon whether for business or other purposes, they would visit historic sites. The more they stay, the better it is for city’s economy. It will benefit not only the hotel businesses, but also other small local businesses in Yangon. It will be also greatly benefited to city as it promotes citizen pride to city residents, especially young generation and local visitors. It links city’s rich past and cultural identities to future. It will also create very attractive urban setting for creative business starters.
What are the future activities of YHT?
YHT will continue to promote and protect Yangon urban and cultural heritage. We will be working to widen outreach of Yangon Heritage Strategy and make the action plans to be able to come into practice. There are also projects planned to carry out in cooperation with some government ministries and international organizations.