The Irrawaddy

Lawmaker Says Ministerial Appointee Failed to Declare Past Work with George Soros

NAYPYITAW – Lawmaker U Soe Thane, who served as President’s Office minister under the previous administration, objected on Thursday to a ministerial appointment by President U Htin Kyaw, saying the new minister had failed to mention his previous work for the George Soros Foundation.

Speaking in Naypyitaw after Thursday’s Union parliamentary session, U Soe Thane told reporters that the new minister, current national security adviser U Thaung Tun, “did not mention his [previous] employment under George Soros,” adding that U Thaung Tun had worked as a consultant for the US investor and businessman. Soros has supported the Myanmar democracy movement in exile for over two decades. He visited Myanmar in late 2011 after the country’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy.

“As George Soros is a wealthy and influential person in America,” U Soe Thane said, “who knows what impact [U Thaung Tun’s appointment] might have on national security or relations between Myanmar and China?”

The lawmaker claimed that Soros had approached him during the previous administration about securing a ministerial appointment for U Thaung Tun, but then-President U Thein Sein rejected the idea because it had come from an American.

“If he [U Thaung Tun] was honest, he would have mentioned it on the second page of his curriculum vitae,” U Soe Thane said, adding that he was prohibited from sharing U Thaung Tun’s CV with the media, as it was shared confidentially with lawmakers on Monday.

U Thaung Tun, a former ambassador under the military regime, was appointed as national security adviser in January.

Regarding the presidential proposal for two new ministries, U Soe Thane said the ruling National League for Democracy had wasted much time, taking two years to establish them. He added that the new ministries must be effective.

Responding to Parliament’s request that he supply evidence to support his objections, he said, “I worked under the previous government and I know all about U Thaung Tun.”

He added that he had not had enough time to obtain evidence for his claim other than his own eyewitness account. He said he had requested corroboration by email from the US, but had yet to receive a response.

The President appointed U Thaung Tun and Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Tin to head the Government’s Office Ministry and the Ministry of International Cooperation, respectively, on Monday. Despite U Soe Thane’s objections, the Union Parliament approved the appointments on Thursday.