Minister’s Abrupt Resignation Raises Questions

By Htet Naing Zaw 2 August 2017

NAYPYITAW — The National League for Democracy (NLD) government announced the resignation of its electricity and energy minister U Pe Zin Tun on Wednesday, but the reasons for his departure remain unclear.

“He submitted the resignation of his own volition and he was allowed to do so,” said President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay, declining to provide further details.

The government’s official statement reiterated that the move was the minister’s choice.

Unconfirmed reports state that U Pe Zin Tun’s subordinates had filed a complaint about him to the Cabinet, citing his so-called “playboy lifestyle.”

An official from the Ministry of Electricity and Energy spoke to The Irrawaddy on the condition of anonymity.

“Before he became a minister, he had some issues with his social life. Some people have found fault with it,” he said, pointing out that U Pe Zin Tun was divorced and had not remarried.

However, he described the former minister as “an easygoing and generous man.”

The current Minister of Construction, U Win Khaing, will take the helm of both ministries. A new deputy minister will be appointed to the energy sector, and the existing deputy minister, Dr. Tun Naing, will oversee the electricity sector, according to the official.

A deputy director general within the electricity and energy ministry told The Irrawaddy: “U Pe Zin Tun rarely went outside [for inspection tours]. He only sat in the office. As he didn’t go outside, he could not demonstrate his performance.”

He also alleged that the minister showed favoritism toward the staff in the energy section, and spent much of his time in their office, rather than that of the electricity section.

The two were separate ministries under the previous government and were only combined after the NLD came to power.

U Pe Zin Tun had taken medical leave until July 31, citing multiple health issues, said the deputy director general.

U Kyi Moe Naing, chairman of the Lower House’s Electricity and Energy Development Committee told The Irrawaddy that he knew of the minister’s sick leave, but that the resignation was a surprise.

“His position will be filled, and nothing much will change. Previously, it was mostly the deputy minister who came and explained the electricity issues [to the Parliament].”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko