Myanmar President U Win Myint allowed the resignation of the Chin State minister for municipal works, electricity and industry on Thursday, following the regional Parliament seeking presidential approval to reshuffle three ministers earlier this month.
Salai Isaac Khen, the resigned minister, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that his resignation “showed accountability” for his failure to implement projects related to the Hakha urban city plan, Hakha market and Falam water distribution.
He said that he takes full responsibility even though respective departments under the ministry could not perform these tasks. The public has complained about the lack of success of these projects in particular.
“I was appointed as the minister and not elected, therefore, I believe taking responsibility is important.”
The water supply project was intended to access water from Lavia Dam, some 25 miles from Falam, and the water was to be distributed to households in Falam. This project was supposed to be completed in March.
However, there were issues with the contract and implementation. Za Thang, a Falam resident, told The Irrawaddy that no one knew about the contract made with the tender-winning Authentic Co. except the chief minister, municipal minister and company director. Furthermore, Za Thang said, the town elders later found out that the pipe installed in the project was not eight inches wide but six inches wide.
Za Thang said, “The municipal minister is a hard-working person who unfortunately could not go against the chief minister.”
Salai Isaac Khen was a director of the research and advocacy group Gender and Development Initiative Myanmar and a leading civil society member until he was selected to become a minister in the Chin State government in 2016.
His tireless efforts during his two years in the position were acknowledged by many, despite some objections to his performance.
He said he plans to continue his studies at this time, as he was preparing to begin a Ph.D. when taking the ministerial position. He will also resume work with Gender and Development Initiative Myanmar.
The Chin State cabinet reshuffle is still in process, as two other state ministers – social affairs and transportation – are slated to be transferred.