In Person

Govt to Implement Recommendations on Rakhine Issue ‘Without Delay’

By San Yamin Aung 13 September 2017

YANGON— A new 15-member committee was formed this week to implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and a government investigation commission led by vice-president U Myint Swe, the President’s Office announced on Tuesday.

Both commissions—which were mandated to advise on fostering stability in the area—made recommendations in final reports submitted to the government last month.

A day after the committee’s official formation, The Irrawaddy spoke to chair of the Implementation Committee for Recommendations on Rakhine State, Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Win Myat Aye.

The President’s Office announced the new committee is responsible for accelerating the national verification process and ensuring “equal access to education and access to health services regardless of religion, race, citizenship or gender.”

The newly-formed implementation committee is also tasked with “fighting terrorism and eliminating drugs in the region as a priority.”

The implementation committee—co-chaired by Rakhine State chief minister U Nyi Pu—will also work towards improving rule of law, stability, harmony between the different communities, security, the economy, social affairs, basic infrastructure including the maintenance of ethnic villages, distributing humanitarian aid, and closing camps for internally displaced persons.

Other members include deputy ministers from the Office of the State Counselor and Ministry of Border Affairs, a representative of the President’s Office, and permanent secretaries from the ministries of home affairs, information, religious affairs, agriculture, transport, labor, education, health and sport, construction, and social welfare.

The committee will report its progress to the public every four months.

What will the committee do first?

Firstly, we will call a meeting [on Thursday]. All members of the committee need to examine in detail and clearly understand the recommendations [of the two commissions]. After that, we will begin implementations that are beneficial for the people and are possible with the reality on the ground, as fast as we can.

Will the committee accept and implement 100 percent of the recommendations of the two different commissions?

We will only know after all members examine the recommendations carefully and discuss what to do. We will prioritize those recommendations that match with the situation on the ground and benefit the people.

The government vowed to implement the recommendations as soon as possible. When do you think the committee can begin?

We have already started. Before the committee was formed, I visited ethnic minorities groups in Rakhine whose members were killed in recent violent attacks such as Hindu, Daingnet, Mro and Kaman. Those minorities have a lot of requirements including for education, health and employment. Only after we know their real emotions and needs on the ground, can we implement [recommendations]. We will meet with the people on the ground and discuss and negotiate with them. We will act based on their needs and without delay.

How will you cope with the volatile situation on the ground?

We want to speedily carry out recommendations that can lead to better conditions and stability in the area. We won’t do anything that could make the situation worse; we only try to benefit the people. There is some fake news out there but the committee will act with transparency and release only true news.

How long do you expect it to take to implement all the suggestions?

We will have systematic short-term and long-term strategies for implementation. Only after the strategies are drawn, can we know the time period. We will let everyone know our strategies once they are decided.

What is your response to the 29 political parties—including opposition party the Union Solidarity and Development Party—that signed a statement rejecting all recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led commission?

We are a civilian government and we will do everything for the benefit of the people. I don’t want to say anything about their statement. We know their concerns. We will implement the recommendations based on the situation on the ground.