Bob Carr: Well, as you know in the wake of the democratisation of Myanmar we're increasing our aid to the country and the people. I'd like one little bit of that aid to be protecting the urban architectural heritage.
I think the world has got a lot, a lot here to see and wonder at over years ahead. And I know that it happens in other developing countries, with the rush of development you see heritage destroyed and you spend the future regretting.
We want to help, we want to help in a very practical way. I've offered Thant (Myint-U) the possibility of an Australia heritage architect coming here, being based here as an advisor for at least a year and having people involved in heritage protection come from Myanmar to Australia. To look at heritage orders, interim heritage orders, permanent heritage councils, adaptive re-use for old buildings.
I think it would be a great gift for this country to have its history preserved. There's a lot in this for the world. You think of the area we have come from, which was a Muslim area, but had a synagogue, had a madrassa, a mosque, Hindu temples, a Jain temple,it's proof positive that cultures can live together side by side. You have an untidy overlap of cultures, not a war of civilisations. That's what thatcorner of old Rangoon represents.
Journalist: Did it surprise you that the condition that the buildings are in here?
Bob Carr: I expected that given the poverty of Myanmar, that the buildings would be pretty decrepit. But, it gives us an opportunity to assist the people of Myanmar to save these buildings now before they go in a rush of development, the way they have in other Asian capitals. Only to be regretted for decades after that they didn't save them.
In Australia, I'd like Australians to come here in the future and think well there's a bit of Australian aid money that saved these buildings and made old Rangoon such a lively interesting place, with theoverlap of cultures.
Journalist: There's quite a few poor people living in those buildings and we've seen in other countries, like Cambodia for example, a lot of issues around moving people that don't want to be moved. I mean, how do you grapple with the big change that's going on and what might happen to those people?
Bob Carr: I think if you have a proper heritage plan, it protects against the idea that everything has to be five star hotels, everything's got to be turned into expensive residences. You've got to have mixed use, that's one thing we've learnt, and I think having a good Australian heritage architect, who has been through all these arguments, be stationed here and offer advice in developing plans. But it is, it would be very attractive to continue to have a social mix, even as your restore the buildings.
Journalist: Does Thant Myint U have something to say about this issue?
Thant Myint U: Well, that's absolutely right. It's incredibly important to be very sensitive to the needs of the local community, to show it's not a negative about simply saving something, about moving forward.There should be jobs here, it should be part of [inaudible] generation effort, but as the Ministry said, having a central effort to preserving, conserving not just architectural heritage, but this amazingmulticultural, multi-faithlandscape we have in this city.
Journalist: Minister, you are now using Myanmar rather than Burma. What's the reasoning behind, it is that formal name change?
Bob Carr: Well,I'm taking the advice of our Ambassador here and I think the consensus is, within the country, within this country, that Myanmar is appropriate. Because there'll be sensitivities and I think, without making too big of an issue out of it, that we get the shift from the old use, which probably has colonial connotations, to the wording preferred within the country.
Journalist: Earlier, you spoke eloquently of the importance of this whole area in terms of the early twentieth century history. Could you just run over that again, what you actually, why you feel it's important to preserve it and I gather it's unique.
Thant Myint U: It's one of the last early twentieth century cityscapes that we have anywhere in Asia. As the Minister said, some of the Asian cities, other cities in the region have lost that architectural heritage, but in addition, also as the Minister says, placed incredible ethnic, religious, cultural diversity,you have thisright where we are. There are synagogues, Armenian churches, cathedrals, Buddhist pagodas and Hindu temples.
But to the Burmese people, the Myanmar people themselves, this is a very important historical landscape. This is a place, this is a landscape where the Burmese people learned to be modern. It's where they connected to the outside world. It's where the Burmese liberal tradition, the Burmese democratic tradition was first formed. Where our greatest writers, politicians and others lived and worked and I think celebrating that is also an important part of trying to conserve the architectural landscape around it.
Bob Carr: Thank you.
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