Burma’s Information and Health Ministers Step Down

By The Associated Press 30 July 2014

RANGOON — Burma’s ministers for information and health have been allowed to retire, state television reported Tuesday, in the country’s second cabinet reshuffle in two months.

The evening news read a statement signed by President Thein Sein announcing the resignations of Information Minister Aung Kyi and Health Minister Pe Thet Khin. An official explanation that a minister is permitted to retire is generally taken to mean a resignation under pressure.

No reason was given for the resignations. No replacements were announced.

Aung Kyi was part of the military group that continues to dominate the country’s administration even after elections brought a nominally civilian government to power in 2011. He has a reputation as a moderate and has kept a low profile. Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut has been more in the spotlight because he is also the president’s spokesman and is outspoken on public media.

Although Thein Sein’s government lifted censorship of the media after almost 50 years of repressive military rule, it has recently come under criticism for allowing the persecution of journalists through defamation and other laws.

Pe Thet Khin was a civilian doctor and also cut a low profile.

The last reshuffle in June saw the departure of the religious affairs minister, who was later charged with corruption and sedition. The chief minister for Arakan State, which is plagued by conflicts between Buddhists and Muslims, lost his job at the same time.

Violent conflicts between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims since 2012 have taken more than 280 lives, left more than 140,000 people homeless, and drawn sharp criticism from the international community, which believes the government has failed to crack down on extremists.