Burma’s President Sacks Religious Affairs Minister

By The Irrawaddy 20 June 2014

RANGOON — Burma’s minister of religious affairs has been sacked for not performing his duties efficiently, while the chief minister of restive Arakan State has resigned, state media reported Friday,

In an announcement in The New Light of Myanmar newspaper that Religious Affairs Minister Hsan Hsint has been fired, President Thein Sein said the Constitution affords him with the power to force the resignation of any minister who fails to adequately fulfill assigned responsibilities.

“If he fails to comply, he shall be terminated from his duties,” states Section 235 of the charter.

Hsan Hsint has also been accused of misusing 10 million kyats (US$10,000) from his ministry’s budget for personal family interests, according to reports by Burmese-language media. The reports could not be independently verified by The Irrawaddy.

Before becoming the religious affairs minister in January last year, Hsan Hsint was a lawmaker for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), representing a constituency in Irrawaddy Division. He was also the deputy commander of the Rangoon divisional military command.

His firing follows a controversial raid on a Rangoon monastery by the state-backed Buddhist clergy that led to the arrest of five monks who will stand trial on Friday. Burma’s government is also facing international opposition to bills that call for restrictions on religious conversions and interfaith marriage.

On Friday, Thein Sein also announced in state media that the chief minister of Arakan State, Hla Maung Tin, would be allowed to resign of his own volition.

The resignation comes after a senior UN aid official said earlier this week that she had seen “appalling” conditions at camps for displaced Rohingya in the western Burma state.

“I witnessed a level of human suffering in IDP camps that I have personally never seen before,” Kyung-Wha Kang, the UN deputy emergency relief coordinator, said on Tuesday, following a visit to the camps last week.