RANGOON — Burma’s biggest independent economic body, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), elected its new president and committee members, amid high expectations of change from industry observers.
In Saturday night’s election, U Zaw Min Win—a former UMFCCI vice-president, chairman of Myanmar Food Processors Exporters Association, and President of Myanmar Industries Association—was elected president over recent chair U Win Aung of Dagon International Co. Ltd and chairman of Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) holdings.
The UMFCCI’s members voted in its new executive body including the President, seven vice-presidents and other office bearers.
The newly-elected vice-presidents, leaders in different sectors of the business community in Burma, are: U Thein Han (Fortune International), Dr. Maung Maung Lay (Ni Lay Naing Co. Ltd), U Thaung Tin (KMD Group of Companies), U Hla Maung Shwe (Shwe Family), Dr Myo Thet, U Wai Phyo (Yatha Cho Co Ltd) and U Ye Min Aung (Ayeyar Hinthar Holdings Co. Ltd).
The Secretary-General is U Aung Kyi Soe, managing director of the Myanmar Liquefied Petroleum Gas Group Company, while joint secretaries-general are: U Aye Win, U Aung Khin Myint, Dr. Aung Thein, U Tha Doe Hein, U Kyaw Dewa, U Myo Thant and Daw Khine Khine Nwe, according to the announcement of the UMFCCI.
In the UMFCCI announcement, U Zaw Min Win said that the UMFCCI needed to amend the Chamber’s constitution to make it less ambiguous and to strengthen its affiliated associations. He highlighted the need for “good governance” and stated that he would not be striving for personal profit in his role as President.
“The UMFCCI needs to work closely with the new government to restore its reputation with politicians, the media, the general public and our affiliated associations,” he said in the statement.
There were some complaints that female members and young members of the wider business community were not represented in the new CEC.
“New members should not be the same as the recent committee; there should be more young business men. They should do more work after changing the members,” one businessperson, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.
“Current president U Win Aung is running Thilawa SEZ projects, so he and his group have been accused of making opportunities for themselves. This time, it should different from them,” the source said.
U Hla Maung Shwe, recently elected as vice-president among six others, told The Irrawaddy that the new committee may not include young people or well-known business people, as Chamber members had to register to vote in order to participate in the selection, which some may not have done in time.
“There are 195 candidates competing in the election this year. There may be some complaints as some candidates […] were not voted for by [all] members of the Chamber,” he said.
“But there are some new young business people who have now been made vice-president, like U Ye Min Aun and U Wai Phyo,” he said.
He added that the new committee will be criticized if its new members fail to reform the Chamber and provide new opportunities for the business community in Burma.
“New members are responsible for walking the government through their policies. We will need to work as negotiators between the business community and the government,” he said.
“U Zaw Min Win has no big businesses like U Win Aung, so the situation will change,” he added.
There is no information on when CEC members will hand the work over to the newly-elected committee.
The UMFCCI is a national, non-governmental organization representing and safeguarding the interests of Burma’s private business sector. It was founded in 1991 (as the Burmese Chamber of Commerce) and has about 30,000 members.