Aung Kyi to Head Govt-Linked Peace Think Tank

By Kyaw Kha 15 July 2016

RANGOON — Aung Kyi, an information minister under the previous Thein Sein government, has been appointed head of a new three-member “think tank” adjoined to the government’s re-branded peace secretariat, which includes various peace process veterans from the previous government.

The new “think tank” is an adjunct to a six-member “peace commission” created on July 11 under the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC), a peace secretariat—now chaired by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi—known under the previous government as the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), which facilitated peace talks with Burma’s various non-state ethnic armed groups.

The “think tank” also includes Min Zaw Oo, formerly the director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation under the MPC, and Hla Maung Shwe, another MPC veteran who is currently secretary of the “21st Century Panglong” peace conference. It is charged with advising the “peace commission” in furthering Burma’s peace process, and aiding in the design of NRPC policy.

The “peace commission” is chaired by Tin Myo Win, with Thein Zaw as his deputy, who was vice-chair of the Union Peace-Making Work Committee, the key peace negotiation body under the previous government. Ex Army Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo is the secretary of the commission. Professor Aung Tun Thet, an economic advisor to the Thein Sein government, Naing Ngan Linn, Rangoon Division social affairs minister, and Lower House lawmaker Aung Soe are also members.

Aung Kyi has served in the military and government administration for more than 50 years. He graduated among the 40th intake at the Officers Training School, and rose to the rank of major general in the Burma Army before being transferred to the Ministry of Immigration and Population, where he served as deputy minister from May 2006 under the military junta.

He was appointed as deputy labor minister in November 2006, during a time of increased pressure from the International Labor Organization, and was made labor minister the following year.

In October 2007, Aung Kyi was charged with conducting negotiations with pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, while she was under house arrest. He was the highest-ranking official in 19 years to have been given this brief, and met with Suu Kyi nine times up until January 2010.

Under the reformist Thein Sein administration, Aung Kyi concurrently served as minister of labor and of social welfare, before he was appointed information minister in 2012. He was replaced by his deputy Ye Htut in July 2014; according to a statement from the government, Aung Kyi was “allowed to resign of his own volition”—a phrase commonly used by the former military regime on sacking high-ranking officials.

Aung Kyi has published books on state building, politics and conflict resolution under the penname “Min Ba Htoo.”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko