Development and Urbanization
The prospect of a mega-city in Myanmar was not considered by well-known volumes on mega-urban regions of Southeast Asia or Pacific Asia (McGee & Robinson (eds) (1995); Jones and Douglass (eds) (2008)). Indeed, until recently, most observers would be surprised by the possibility that Yangon will become a city of close to 10 million by 2035. Since the 2014 census confirmed Yangon is already a city of 5 million and growing rapidly, it is widely acknowledged that a mega-city is in the making .
Myanmar seems destined to follow the path of its Asian neighbors with a primate city urban system dominated by a mega-metropolitan region. Already reports of spatial and social disruptions associated with burgeoning informal settlements and new private sector projects are emerging.
Many studies already confirmed Yangons’s infrastructure systems are woefully inadequate for the existing population, not to mention the prospects of a rapidly growing urban population. Critics argue available public policies do not seem to be clear, comprehensive or fit for the tasks. A notable feature is that most of the large scale urbanization projects in Yangon and other Myanmar cities are driven by foreign governments or their representatives.
Using the experience of Manila, Bangkok and Seoul, this paper seeks to identify the key issues associated with the prospect of Yangon becoming the mega-metropolitan region of Myanmar, the consequences of a process driven by foreign investments and the policy alternatives that Myanmar could learn from its neighbors.