In Person

Dr. Mya Wunna Soe: ‘We Do Not Have the Funds to Repair the Cars’  

By Thu Zar 30 November 2016

Photos of moss-covered unattended cars at Rangoon Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital recently went viral on social media. The cars had been donated by the Nippon Foundation to be used by government hospitals across the country.

It was not clear for how long the cars—more than 100 in all, emblazoned with Nippon Foundation stickers—had been left unattended in the hospital compound. The Irrawaddy noted that many of the vehicles appeared long unused, covered in rust.

The Irrawaddy reporter Thuzar interviewed the Ministry of Health and Sports deputy director general Dr. Mya Wunna Soe about the cars.

Can you tell me about the cars donated by the Nippon Foundation?

There are 101 cars in the hospital compound that the Nippon Foundation donated to be distributed to various hospitals. The foundation previously donated an additional 112 cars that have already been distributed and are in use as hospital ambulances. As for the cars currently in the compound, there were delays in the donation and permit application processes. On top of that, we do not have the funds to repair the cars, as many of them need new tires and batteries. We have requested a budget to repair them.

People said the cars have been there for years. Did you try to get a budget during that time?

Mainly, the donation and permit application process was delayed and those cars were at the port for about a year. The cars have been in the hospital compound for about six months and we are still negotiating with the Nippon Foundation over repair costs. We estimate that repairs may cost as much as 200 million kyats (US$150,000). The cars couldn’t be used right after we got them from the port. In order to use them as hospital ambulances, they need repairs and they also need to be modified and equipped with oxygen cylinders and more.

There is talk that the permits for these cars were sold off? What do you have to say about that?

Every department has fixed assets. We only have permits [for the import of these cars] and have not even applied for licenses. So how could we sell government permits on the market? According to procedure, we have yet to apply for licenses with the road transport administrative department.

Will the Nippon Foundation make more donations?

Yes, it has donated annually since 2013—70 cars in the first batch, 42 in the second batch, and the 101, which are in the hospital compound now. The foundation also plans to donate 42 more cars to be used as ambulances. We have already decided which hospitals will receive these additional cars.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko