၂၀၁၅ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲ Irrawaddy.org
INTERVIEW

New Arakan Chief Minister Mya Aung: ‘The President Trusts Me’

Mya Aung discusses ethnic conflict, the recent floods, his military predecessor and his plans for Arakan State.


Arakan State has had three chief ministers since the introduction of parliamentary rule five years ago. The first, Hla Maung Tin, was removed in June last year, reportedly due to poor management. His replacement, Maj-Gen Maung Maung Ohn, was a military appointee in the Arakan State Parliament who resigned last month to contest the state seat of Ann Township for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.

President Thein Sein appointed Mya Aung to head the state last month. He assumed office on Aug. 26 and his tenure will end early next year with the appointment of new chief ministers by Naypyidaw. In this interview, Mya Aung speaks to The Irrawaddy about his predecessor, ethnic conflict in the state and his pledge to work for the Arakan population.

What challenges have you faced since you became chief minister?

There are no difficulties. Plans have been laid down and projects initiated by the former chief minister. I am focused on implementing those projects. So there are no difficulties in that regard. We have some problems caused by the recent floods. People have suffered a lot, and we are working to help them, and having some difficulties in doing so.

You said you would focus on implementing the projects of the former chief minister. So is he still an influential force in Arakan politics?

It is not that there is guidance by Maung Maung Ohn. Plans were drawn up by Maung Maung Ohn. The plans he developed are good. He has plans for urban and rural development projects and public recreation spaces like gardens. We have to try to make those projects a success…I have to accomplish his projects because they are good projects, it is not that Maung Maung Ohn is giving me instructions.

Some have said that the tender process of some projects initiated by U Maung Maung Ohn was not transparent enough. Did he provide accurate facts and figures when he handed over the projects to you?

People have been repeatedly informed about those projects. There should have been complaints about those projects if people don’t like them. As there have been no official complaints, I would say that his projects are transparent.

Arakan State has been hit hard by ethnic conflicts. How will you handle any instances of ethnic conflict during your tenure as chief minister?

Arakan State has become stable now and we’ll introduce measures to make it more stable. There are no more problems with the Bengalis. (Editor’s note: “Bengali” is the government’s preferred term for Burma’s stateless ethnic Rohingya Muslim community, which is overwhelmingly concentrated in Arakan State). As we have already developed security plans, we’ll handle any incidents in line with the security plan and the law.

Arakanese people are happy that an Arakanese man has become chief minister in Arakan State. Do you think you will have the discretion to serve the interests of the state’s Arakanese people?

To be frank, I will try to fulfill the wishes of my people, as I am Arakanese. The Union government does not differentiate between military appointees and popularly elected candidates. I hope it will coordinate with us to the fullest possible extent.

What instructions has President Thein Sein given to you so far? Do you think the president will grant you the same authority he gave Maung Maung Ohn?

So far, the president has not given me any instructions. But he has appointed me because he has trust in me, has he not? There are so many people he could choose, and he chose me because he has trust in me. I am too low in rank to receive direct instruction from the president by phone. He may probably give direct instructions in the case of an emergency.

How will you handle the Bengali issue? (See editor’s note, above)

I will continue to do what is being done now. We will continue scrutinizing them according to the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Act.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

As I was officially appointed by the president, I will strive for the development of our Arakan State, according to the law, in line with the instructions of the Union government and under the influence of nobody.