Deputy Minister’s Dismissal Sends Waves through Political Circles

By Htet Naing Zaw 21 November 2016

NAYPYIDAW — The purge of Dr. Tun Win, the deputy minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, has caused a sensation in Burma’s political circles.

In a statement released on Friday, the President’s Office announced that the deputy minister was dismissed from his duties, but it gave no reasons for the firing.

U Zaw Htay, the deputy director-general of the President’s Office, refused to comment on the matter.

The ex-deputy minister met the press at his residence in Naypyidaw on Saturday. He said he was dismissed not because of corruption or incompetence, but because of a disagreement with Dr. Aung Thu, the minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, and with U Win Htein, the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) central executive committee member.

According to Dr. Tun Win, he had a quarrel with the minister and the directors-general of his ministry in a monthly meeting over his proposals for the country’s agricultural sector.

He also argued with U Win Htein over a privatized seed nursery in Heho, Shan State. Dr. Tun Win tried to take back the nursery from its operator after he discovered the nursery had been inactive for four years. It is unclear what connection U Win Htein has with the nursery.

He said U Win Htein had then summoned him and told him in person to resign from his post, but refused to give a reason.

“I asked why, and [U Win Htein] said he had no reason, and he just told me to resign,” the deputy minister told The Irrawaddy.

U Win Htein refused to comment on the situation when asked by The Irrawaddy.

Dr. Tun Win said a President’s Office representative then came to him on Thursday with two options—to fill out a resignation form or to be dismissed for “weakness in coordination and administration.” He was told that he would receive compensation if he signed the resignation letter, but otherwise no compensation would be given. He opted for the latter.

“I replied that I would listen to the decision of the President. To my dismay, I found the announcement [of my dismissal] in Saturday’s newspapers,” said Dr. Tun Win.

Dr. Tun Win is a respected agriculturalist in the country’s industry, and was appointed by the NLD-led government to the position of deputy minister after the party came to power in April. He is the first high-ranking official to be dismissed under the new government.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko