Rights Group Demands Sanction for Myanmar Energy Minster’s Family

By Hein Htoo Zan 22 May 2023

Justice For Myanmar (JFM) has called for Australia, Canada, the European Union, UK and US to impose sanctions on the family of Myanmar regime’s energy minister.

The Environmental Quality Management Co Ltd (EQM) consultancy firm is owned by Dr Ohnmar May Tin Hlaing, wife of the junta’s energy minister Myo Myint Oo. The family business profits from fossil fuel and mining companies operating in Myanmar, JFM said, in a “clear conflict of interest”.

Junta energy minister Myo Myint Oo’s wife Ohnmar May Tin Hlaing (left) and daughter Lin Hay Thi Oo.

JFM campaigns for justice and accountability in Myanmar and exposes junta-linked businesses.

EQM was registered in 2012 under the military’s proxy-civilian Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government. Ohnmar May Tin Hlaing owns it with her father U Tin Hlaing, who was a high-ranking civil servant.

The EQM website lists 87 projects, many for oil and gas companies that were mostly completed before the 2021 coup, and its clients include TotalEnergies of France, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh, Italian major Eni, Posco International of South Korea, PTTEP of Thailand, the Malaysian firm Petronas, Shell and Petroleum Brunei.

EQM delivered air and noise monitoring services for a polluting cement factory in Karen State controlled by the military-owned conglomerate, the Myanmar Economic Corporation, in 2018.

In 2016 the company prepared an environmental examination and management plan for Bo Aung Kyaw Port controlled by the military-run Myanma Economic Holdings Limited. EQM monitored air quality at the controversial, Chinese-owned Letpadaung copper mine in 2012.

Myo Myint Oo was appointed managing director of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) in 2014 by the USDP regime. He held the role until becoming the junta’s energy minister in August 2022.

The US, EU and Canada have sanctioned Myo Myint Oo but Ohnmar May Tin Hlaing and her father, an EQM director, face no sanctions.

The EU stated that Myo Myint Oo, “is in charge of enabling the investment and cooperation with foreign partners in the oil and gas sectors, which creates revenue for the State Administration Council [junta], thereby contributing to securing the financial needs of the military regime and to importing aviation fuel for the military which enables the military airstrikes against civilians”.

Their daughter Ma Lin Hay Thi Oo is studying in Australia.

She benefits from her parents’ business interests and should be investigated by the Australian authorities, said JFM.

In September 2017, TotalEnergies provided a five-month internship to Lin Hay Thi Oo.

JFM said Myo Myint Oo’s roles at MOGE and as energy minister and his wife’s business are a clear conflict of interest, raising serious corruption concerns.

Of EQM’s clients, ONGC Videsh, Posco and PTTEP remain in Myanmar, investing in projects that bankroll the junta’s military operations against civilians, JFM added.

TotalEnergies’ relationship with Myo Myint Oo’s family was particularly problematic, it said.