New State Counselor Ministry Proposed for Suu Kyi

By Tin Htet Paing 5 May 2016

RANGOON — A proposal from Burma’s President Htin Kyaw to form a new ministry for State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi was formally brought to the Union Parliament floor on Thursday.

A document outlining the “Ministry of the State Counselor’s Office” proposal was read out in the chamber by Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than, in which the president was quoted as saying “it is necessary to have a ministry to successfully implement the missions of national reconciliation, domestic peace, national development and the rule of law.”

The Speaker did not offer any indication as to who might head the new ministry and oversee its vague portfolio, but speculation has tipped Suu Kyi’s personal physician, Dr. Tin Myo Win, for the post.

Tin Myo Win, long a close Suu Kyi ally, has also been given a leading role in coming peace negotiations between the new government and ethnic armed groups. He is widely expected to head a new iteration of the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC), which Suu Kyi last week suggested would be renamed the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC).

According to a report in state-run media, the doctor’s new prominent place in Burma’s peace process was announced at Suu Kyi’s meeting with the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee, made up of government and military representatives, as well as non-state armed group signatories to the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement.

Aung Moe Zaw, chairman of the Democratic Party for a New Society, told The Irrawaddy that the new ministry was a “necessity” given the daunting challenges facing Suu Kyi, who has indicated that she intends to lead reforms on several fronts.

“I think that this new ministry is a necessity for those who are actually working for the country’s sake,” he said.

“She won’t have time to take care of every little thing as she has many [critical] works to do.”

Aung Moe Zaw said given that the proposed ministry would likely be closely involved in the delicate peace process, which Suu Kyi intends to lead, Tin Myo Win as trusted confidante to the state counselor would make for a logical choice.

If Tin Myo Win is confirmed to take the new ministerial post and peace negotiator position, his involvement would likely be similar to that of the previous government’s chief peace negotiator Aung Min, a Union-level President’s Office minister under the government of former President Thein Sein who also led the MPC.

If the proposal wins parliamentary approval, it would be the 22nd leadership position in the cabinet of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), which is currently made up of 21 ministries. Creation of the new ministry would appear all but certain, given the NLD’s commanding majorities in both houses of the Union legislature.

The speaker on Thursday welcomed input from lawmakers during upcoming deliberation of the proposal, which is scheduled for a parliamentary session next week.