Former Information Minister Surprised by USDP Membership Appointment

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 19 September 2016

RANGOON — Former Minister of Information U Ye Htut has been appointed as an auxiliary member of the once-ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) without his prior knowledge.

For the five months since the transfer of power from a USDP administration to a civilian-led government, Ye Htut has been in Singapore, where he is a senior visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).

“I didn’t know that I became an auxiliary member of the USDP, because I was in Singapore when the party held its annual meeting. I was informed of this when I visited for a while earlier this month,” Ye Htut told The Irrawaddy, referring to a research trip back to Burma.

In the party’s general meeting in August, ex-general U Than Htay, former Minister of Energy, became the party chairman, replacing former chairman and ex-President U Thein Sein.

Local daily newspaper The Voice reported on the formation of a USDP veterans group including U Thein Sein, U Htay Oo, U Aye Myint, U Thaung, U Soe Tha, U Loon Thi, U Tin Htut, U Myint Maung and U Khin Aung Myint. It was the veterans group that appointed U Ye Htut as an auxiliary party member.

“I informed the party that I was not able to be involved in the party’s activities while I am a visiting fellow. After finishing my tenure at ISEAS, I will decide on my future,” Ye Htut said.

Ye Htut’s affiliation with the party—formed in 2010—dates back to his membership in the organization’s predecessor, the Union Solidarity and Development Association.

“I am not a member of the party anymore,” he said.